Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

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Spotting Bad Leaders - Growing Good Ones

1Timothy 3

Timothy found himself in a pickle. False teachers had come in and were fomenting dissent among the men and using freedoms in Christ to pull women off into their deception and rebellion. Some of these men were leaders in the church. He needed a strong hand to put this troubled church back on track - and to do that he needed strong but mature leaders.\r
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One of the problems with 1 & 2 Timothy is that we don't know what the exact controversy was. That's because Timothy is not an apology against false doctrine but a declaration against false teachers and a list of instructions for how to set things right with the people of the fellowship.\r
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So in this chapter he outlines his requirements for elders and deacons in the church. When looking at this we need to ask - as we did in the last chapter - is this a complete list of requirements and is this to be universally applied to all churches at all times?\r
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The answer to both questions, I believe, is no. However - there are a bunch of important values, qualities, and guidelines for leadership that we see here. These aren't requirement to keep people out but barometers of spiritual maturity to know who to bring into leadership positions.\r
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1 Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. \r
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Being in this troubled church you might just want to say "leadership? No way - look at all the controversy and trouble here - I'm just going to be attacked and questioned and hurt." \r
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"Anyone" has been translated as "man" but in Greek it is the word tis which is not a male pronoun. In that day, however, there were only male overseers.\r
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Being in leadership is a "noble task" says Paul. "It's a good thing" is really what it is saying.\r
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So, what is an overseer - or bishop - as it translated in some places. And is it the same as "elder?" For that matter- what's the difference between that and "deacon?"\r
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The word "overseer" is in Greek episkopee and literally means "overseer". The word "elder" as used in chapter 5 is presbuteros and means a leader - borrowed from the Jewish idea of elders being leaders. It actually comes from a word that means "old man" but although age can be a factor, it isn't always.\r
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Deacon is the word diakonos and originally was a function, not an office. It means "helper" or "servant." Paul refers to himself this way (1 Cor 3:5) and refers to Timothy in this way as well (4:6). By the time of this letter it was more than a function but a specific office.\r
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I'm going to make this pretty simple: Elders and Bishops are interchangeable - and deacons help the elders of a church minister to the body. Deacons are church leaders as well as elders - perhaps the distinction is that one focuses more on teaching and spiritual discernment and direction, and the other focuses more on carrying out the vision and functions of the church.\r
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So Paul has some things he wants Timothy to look for to get good leaders, rather than ones that put the flock at risk.\r
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2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. \r
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Paul gives us 15 qualities for a good overseer. Let's take a closer look:\r
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- Above Reproach - there shouldn't be any character issues that would call the leaders character into question. Having a leader that was convicted of embezzlement and assault and who cheated on his taxes - not a good idea.\r
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- Husband of one wife - best way to look at this: "a one-woman man." A promiscuous person should not be a leader. \r
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- Temperate - balanced, not extreme.\r
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- Self-Controlled - also translated "sensible." It goes along with "respectable." You could say "having a clear mind and that is not confused." Somebody with good judgment and common sense. \r
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- Hospitable - someone that doesn't isolate themselves from others.\r
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- Able to teach - someone who can refute false doctrine and teach about good doctrine. It doesn't mean you have to be able to teach like Chuck Smith or Charles Swindoll - but you can pick up a Bible and communicate its truth to others.\r
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Now we have four negative traits that should not be in the character of a leader:\r
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- Not given to drunkenness - this literally means not being addicted to wine. \r
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- Not violent but gentle - Violent comes from "to strike" so a leader must be one who is quick to use force over people, but gentle - treating others with patience rather than domineering over them. \r
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- Quarrelsome - not somebody that is quick to get into an argument. \r
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- Not a lover of money - not a greedy person (more detail on that in chapter 6).\r
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Verse 4 & 5: The idea conveyed here is that good management of God's church starts with someone who is a good manager at home - showing the same characteristics we just looked at. The leader should show compassionate governing, leading and directing. And his children should respect him and be respectful in general. It doesn't mean that if your kids act up you get fired as a leader - it means that as a leader you model good leadership at home and it should show through submissive respect.\r
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Verse 6: Putting a green Christian in a position of leadership invites problems. They need to be seasoned or they will be tempted by the enemy. "conceited" means "wrapped in smoke" - leaders who have not had much experience and have not suffered the painful trials of leaders will begin to think too much of themselves - they simply won't see clearly and are easily fooled. Pride is a trap the enemy often uses against leaders.\r
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Verse 7: Having a good reputation at home - it is also to have a good reputation to the world. Someone who acts all holy and gentle at church but is a tyrannical abusive dictator at work is not going to make a good leader.\r
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OK - now to the deacons.\r
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8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. \r
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- Worthy of Respect - this is different than for overseers (3:2). There, it means being diplomatic - but here it means to be serious. Deacons should take their duties seriously and carry them our diligently. \r
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- Sincere- means honesty without hypocrisy. \r
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- Deacons need to be unconcerned about wine and money to the point of not being addicted to either.\r
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- (verse 9) Deacons are to be spiritual people - who understand the gospel and stick to it in their lives. \r
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- (verse 10) again - they need to be seasoned before they are given the tasks of a deacon.\r
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11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. \r
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There are three possible interpretations here - the word "wives" can be used of "women" as well - and there is no "their" in the original. So it could either be referring to deacons wives, women in general, or deaconesses. Whatever the case - women in leadership roles are expected to be just as worthy of respect and able to handle themselves as the men.\r
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12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. \r
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Same as for bishops or overseers from above.\r
Though the jobs of deacons might not seem that "high" but kind of menial - God does not see it that way. In fact, in John 13 Jesus wiped the feet of His disciples and encouraged to do the same - being a servant leader means that no task is too small or less important. Mowing the lawn is an act of leadership as you care for the church.\r
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14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: \r
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Paul wanted Timothy to take charge of the situation until Paul could arrive. He calls the church "the pillar and foundation of the truth." We are God's support on earth for the truth He revealed in the gospel. What an awesome place and responsibility!\r
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He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. \r
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This is most likely a very early Christian hymn talking about Jesus coming to earth as a man, given power and witness by the Spirit, dieing for our sins and being raised from the dead and ascending into heaven - a fact that is now preached around the world and many people believe that truth!\r
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Conclusions\r
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1. Every church needs good leaders\r
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2. Good leaders don't fall off trees - they are grown slowly\r
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3. Who you are matters - no matter where you are (home, church, work, play)\r
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4. You can often spot a healthy church by the health and maturity of its leaders (and vice versa)\r
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5. Being a leader is a good thing - and you should pray about whether the Lord has a leadership role in mind for you - it may not be a recognized office, but it is leadership just the same. Don't wait for the title - just obey God wherever you are!\r
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