There are at least four modern types of leadership.
Some leaders are dictatorial; they see themselves calling
all the shots all alone. Some leaders are numerical;
they see their followers calling most of the shots through
voting. Some leaders are situational; they let the
circumstances determine which course of action he and his
followers will take. The fourth type is called
transitional; this leader transforms his followers by:
communicating a vision, establishing clear goals, setting a
good example, expecting the best from all, encouraging and
supporting all, recognizing good work, helping all to see
the group’s best interest, and inspiring all through his
integrity. So remember these modern types:
dictatorial, numerical, situational, transitional.
You will recall from previous sermons how we’ve seen that
the church in Ephesus, in 1 Timothy, is in chaos.
Paul’s earlier prediction that there would be elders who
would lead others away from the Gospel to follow false
teaching and to gain a following has come true. Church
leaders like Hymenaeus and Alexander had shipwrecked their
faith, and they were twisting Old Testament texts to lead
others astray. Yes, Timothy had a difficult situation.
We've seen how Paul skips his usual prayer and gets right
down to business ordering Timothy to tell members not to
teach another gospel and not to get caught up in the
heretics' falsehoods and idle talk (1:3-11). Then we
saw how Paul uses himself as Exhibit A to say that if Jesus
could save him, He could save everybody who repents.
The heretic's are claiming that they really have the 'inside
story' and it involves a special knowledge that only a few
can possess (6:20-21). Then Timothy was encouraged to
wage the good warfare as he lived up to his appointed task
to be the evangelist and to avoid the heretics. In
chapter 2, Paul instructs the members to combat the heretics
with a peaceful, evangelistic, and spiritual lifestyle.
Paul then explains how Christian women can contribute both
negatively and positively to the church. This brings
us now to chapter 3. Another safeguard for the church
in Ephesus against the false teachers will be having good
church leadership. So Paul spells out in detail the
qualifications of both elders and deacons. A Gospel
preacher about 70 years ago made this observation: "Any
group of men who are vested with the authority to oversee a
congregation of saints must be qualified in heart and life
to perform such responsible work. Too little attention has
been paid to the qualifications of elders. The elders
themselves have neglected these qualifications, and the
congregations have oftentimes ignored them. ... The
qualifications as given in the New Testament must not be
ignored" (Miller quoting Boles). Another elder made this
comment about 25 years ago: "Leadership does not depend upon
dominance, but suggests direction. The real
determining factor of one's leadership ... is 'to find out
whether anyone is following him.’... The masses will
respond positively and eagerly to humble leadership, but
they will act negatively to arrogant lordship. ... Men who
do not lead and inspire the church, and men appointed to
office without proper qualifications, are detrimental to the
cause of Christ. The Lord only knows how many churches
among us have been severely hampered by elders [and deacons]
who are incompetent, or who have no faith or vision"
(Miller). Another preacher gave this admonition about
10 years ago: "Qualified men who remain qualified do not
harm the church! Unqualified men who never qualify hinder,
yes, even destroy the Church! ... These qualifications must
be taught, understood, and practiced. The key to good
[leadership] is selecting only qualified men. So
simple, yet so violated" (Hodge)! All these brethren in the
past have urged us to look carefully at the qualifications
for church leaders. If we were to have a quiz, and the
question was: "Give five of the qualifications found for
elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3," could you have given
five? Let's look at these qualifications and notice
several aspects concerning them.
Now let's read the first verses of chapter 3: "This is a
faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop,
he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the
husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good
behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not
violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome,
not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his
children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does
not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of
the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with
pride, he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are
outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the
devil. Likewise, deacons must be reverent, not
double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for
money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure
conscience. But let these also be first tested; then let
them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise,
their wives must be reverent, not slanders, temperate,
faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one
wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For
those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves
a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in
Christ Jesus.” First of all, notice how both roles of elder
and deacon produce something noble. Paul states in verse 1
that those men who aspire to be an elder desire a good or
noble work. Indeed, it is a work which involves
oversight, guidance, direction, instruction, modeling,
support, discipline, teamwork, and communication. Now
look at verse 13 where Paul says this about the work of a
deacon: “For those who have served well as deacons obtain
for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the
faith which is in Christ Jesus.” We see here that
those who work as deacons obtain a good or noble standing
along with great boldness. The deacon’s role is one of
service, and God loves to see men who imitate Jesus and take
up the towel of service to wash others’ feet or do whatever
is necessary to advance God’s kingdom. So, the roles
of elder and deacon produce something noble.
Next, notice how four broad areas are mentioned for both
groups. For the elders, we see this development: verse
2-3 talk basically about the elder’s character, verses 4-5
refers to his home, verse 6 talks about his experience, and
verse 7 refers to his reputation. For the deacons, we
see a similar development: verses 8-9 talk about his
character and experience, verse 10 refers to his reputation,
and verses 11-12 talk about his home. Many of the
qualifications deal with these leaders’ character. A
preacher made this observation: ‘Leadership begins with who
we are, not what we do. A lack of integrity among
leaders quenches the flow of the Holy Spirit and removes
God’s hand of blessing from the church” (Anselmi quoting
Russell). The home life of both elders and deacons is
very important. One commentator made this good remark:
"Any man, unable to govern his children graciously and
gravely by maintaining good discipline, is no man for
government in the Church. The principle is universal,
for potential skill in a larger sphere can only be indicated
by similar skill in a lesser sphere. The parallel
between Church and home brings impressive dignity to
Christian home-life, a dignity as imperative in the 21st
century as in Paul's day. The apostle is here dealing
with Church [leaders] in whom such a worthy home-life is
indispensable" (Gutherie). Some of the qualifications could
be called good habits, and these must be developed over much
time. Notice, that elder’s must have a good reputation
from outsiders while deacons gain their reputation from
testing. Verse 10 states: “But let these also first be
tested … being found blameless.” There are two
possible interpretations here. One may be: “Let the
deacons be given a certain job and then see if they can do
it blamelessly.” He is proven through on the job
experience. Another may be: “Let the deacons be me who
have endured persecution without denying Jesus.” He is
proven through his successful suffering for Christ.
Whichever interpretation you prefer, such testing will take
Here’s a third aspect. Notice how many qualifications
overlap. To illustrate this idea, notice either the
screen or the back of your bulletin to see the similarities:
Good behavior, hospitable
One wife, rules well
One wife (traits), rules well
Able to teach
Holds mystery of the faith
Not some things
Not some things
Good testimony without
Proven by testing
Both the elder’s and deacon’s character is to be blameless
(verses 2 and 10). The words in the original language
are different, but they both mean the same thing.
Under home life, there are many similarities. Both
leaders are to have only one wife, are to rule their homes
well, and are to have children. With regards to
experience, we see that both leaders know the Scriptures
well, are not addicted to wine, and are not greedy for
money. With regards to reputation, the elder is spoken
of well by outsiders, and the deacons have proven themselves
while being tested. It is pretty amazing to see this
much overlap for both the elder and the deacon! One
preacher noted: "It has been appropriately stated that every
organization is but the lengthened shadow of its leaders.
So it is among the people of God, for they have always been
profoundly affected by the caliber of their leaders.
It is a simple fact that prosperous and successful churches
are ones with richly qualified leaders. Churches without
competent leaders remain static, if they do not become
decadent" (Miller). Another preacher put it this way::
“Whatever the leaders are, the people become. As Hosea
said, ‘Like people, like priests’ (Hosea 4:9). Jesus
said, ‘Everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be
like his teacher’ (Luke 6:40). Biblical history
demonstrates that people will seldom rise above the
spiritual level of their leadership” (Luke quoting MacAuthur).
Think about it: if the leaders have a contentious spirit,
the congregation will become contentious; … if the elders do
not faithfully hold to the authority of the Word of God in
their own lives and in the operation of the congregation,
the congregation will not hold to it [as well]” (Luke).
Paul gives specifics in 1 Timothy 3 to show us that God
wants high caliber spiritual elders and deacons to protect,
feed, lead, love, and serve His flock!
Now here’s another aspect. Notice how the
qualifications present high standards. Let’s look at
each qualification quickly. First for the elders:
Blameless—irreproachable, unimpeachable, not a galaxy of
uncomplimentary rumors about him, spotless integrity.
Husband of one wife—not a polygamist, not a bachelor, not a
dictator because a dictatorial husband cannot make a good
Temperate (also applicable to deacon’s
wives)—self-controlled, self-denying, ever alert and
watchful over the care of the flock.
Sober-minded-- sensible, serious-minded, not shooting from
the hip but fair thinking.
Hospitable—opens home to others, all are welcome, their
homes become refuge places for spiritual safety.
Able to teach—shares the Word and shows how to apply it,
does not champion tradition but the truth, he explains
rather than coerces.
Not given to wine—They show good habits, not bad ones, and
they will bend over backwards to keep another member
Not violent—a spiritual soldier but not a physical one, not
contentious, no Diotrephes (see 3 John).
Not greedy for money—no money-grabber, one who loves Christ,
others, and spiritual blessings more than riches, tries to
turn money matters over to others (especially the deacons).
Gentle—goes against our culture's idea of powerful
leadership, not harsh or stern but considerate, puts service
Not quarrelsome— not contentious, not desiring strife, not
easily angered by trivial matters.
Not covetous—generous, the Lord's sheep comes before the
Lord's money, more interested in saving souls than saving
Not a novice—not a recent convert, not an inexperienced
member, one who has growth and maturity.
Good testimony of unbelievers—out in the community,
respected by those who know him, admired by fellow workers.
Here are the qualifications for deacons.
Reverent—serious, respected, honorable.
Not double-tongued—sincere, not shifty, not deceitful.
Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure
conscience—stands for the truth, not double-minded,
The wives of deacons are serious, dependable, not
Someone has rightly noted: “These qualities are qualities
EVERY Christian should posses and be striving for. The
leader is one with whom these qualities are evident in his
life. Being a real leader is more than having a title;
it is being able to inspire others to follow you. ...
Character, reputation in the community, and the home life
all can have an impact on our ability to lead” (Anselmi).
To this listing could also be added those given in Titus
chapter one. "God wants spiritual, dedicated,
reputable, capable men leading His people. ... The demands
made require a personality of the highest quality" (Miller).
Another aspect is this: Notice how often we can misuse these
qualifications. Some members ignore these
qualifications when it comes time to select new leadership.
They view church leaders as politicians. They think a
certain brother will represent them and the agenda they wish
to be pushed. So, they put practical politics above
Paul's qualifications. Some Christians think that only
some of the qualifications need to be met. They think:
“Here's a good ole boy who is the best available that we've
got, so we need to give him a chance.” Isn't this
elevating popularity over spirituality? And then there
are members to who almost take these qualifications to
extremes and see them as “rules” rather than as character
traits and practical safeguards. They will often argue
like this: “Well, Bro. Green doesn't have a serious bone in
his body. So, he surely isn't worthy of becoming an elder.
After all, each of the qualifications must be met 100% in
order for a brother to serve us!” Could jealous, envy,
or character defamation be behind such statements? Doesn't
this sound much like church legalism? One preacher
made this good observation: "All qualities listed must exist
in each elder to an appreciable degree [not to perfection].
The strength of elders is in number [not in each
individual]. What one lacks; another supplies"
(Hodge)! So let's be careful and not misuse these
qualifications. Let's practice Jesus' Golden Rule and
remember the beam in our own eye when we are evaluating
candidates to serve as elders and deacons.
Here's another aspect to consider. Notice how this
leadership type differs from modern types. The
qualifications for elders and deacons in Timothy sure don't
sound much like those found in the four modern types do
they? This shows us that elders are not dictatorial,
numerical, situational, or even transitional. These
qualifications are uniquely suited for one who desires to be
a spiritual shepherd and who proves himself worthy to be a
convicted servant. These are men who have their minds
on this above rather than on the things of this earth.
These leaders are men who have a passion to help us all be
more godly, more Christ-like, and more prepared so that we
can all inherit heaven together! The writer of Hebrews
admonishes us in 13:17: “Obey those who rule over you, and
be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those
who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with
grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
Bro. Coffman made this good remark: "Probably the greatest
class of men on earth today are the elders and deacons of
churches of our Lord throughout the world. Their work
is that of constant service and study, not in some ivory
tower, but in the boiling crucible of daily life, where the
word of God and its application to pressing human problems
are their constant daily concern. ... Surely such men are
the servants of the Most High" (Coffman). The church
in Ephesus needed good leaders to help them get back on
their feet. The Holy Spirit has set the standards
high. Elders have a noble work and deacons obtain a noble
standing. To our beloved elders and deacons here, we
appreciate all that you do!
If you are not a Christian, today can be your day of
salvation. If you need the prayers for restoration or
strength, God has big shoulders! Come take Jesus' hand right