So in 1 Timothy 3, the first seven verses lay out a list of qualifications for elders in the church. And I am going to spend the next two weeks unpacking this list. I am going to address each quality one at a time. And I want to go slow through this list for three reasons. First, we need men with character in our homes, churches, businesses, and world (including government and politics). Second, I want men, young and old, to be inspired to be men of greater character (this includes my sons). Third, we need to sharpen our character regularly against the grindstone of God's Word (this includes me). So my goal with this list is threefold: develop, inspire, and sharpen men.
In verses one through seven, we will identify fourteen qualifications. I know there are more in Titus, but this is not a study in Titus, so we will not reference those. But before I read this list, let's clarify what a qualification is. Qualifications are proficiencies in process or completed that make someone suitable for a job or activity. For example, when you are looking for a job, there is usually a list of qualifying factors that an employer declares before you apply. These qualifications are told to you beforehand, so if necessary, you can qualify or disqualify yourself.
And for a second, I want to address the disqualification issue because I think Christian men are really good at disqualifying themselves. If disqualification were a qualification, most of us would be very qualified. I believe this is especially true when it comes to spiritual leadership. But instead of so quickly disqualifying yourself when I read this list, I want you — that's every man listening — to hear each of these qualifications in the aspirational sense. As we work through the list, I want you to reject the voice of disqualification and embrace the aspirational spirit of that quality. I want you to aspire to it. Because I think Paul has three intentions for this list. I think he gives this list to Timothy to disqualify some, qualify others, and inspire others.
So here are the 14 qualifications for leaders in the church:
Therefore an overseer must be 1 above reproach, 2 the husband of one wife, 3 sober-minded, 4 self-controlled, 5 respectable, 6 hospitable, 7 able to teach, 8 not a drunkard, 9 not violent but gentle, 10 not quarrelsome, 11 not a lover of money. He must 12 manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must 13 not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be 14 well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. — 1 Timothy 3:1-7
So you did it, didn't you? You disqualified yourself as soon as I read one of the qualifications here. You might have even done it more than one time. Stop doing that. For our study, I want you to stop doing that. Okay? The nature of this list draws attention to our sins. That's what it's intended to do. It draws attention to our shortcomings and aspirations in five different areas.
Public character.
Marital commitment.
Personal attributes.
Leadership acumen.
Faith development.
And, fellas, we will never be perfect in all these areas. If we could be perfect, there would be no need for Jesus. But we are not perfect. We are fallen men, redeemed by Christ. We are moving from one degree of glory to the next, learning how to develop in each of these areas every day. And we shouldn't disqualify and dismiss but aspire to do better. Now there might be something you have done in this life that will disqualify you from church leadership forever. But this doesn't mean you are disqualified as a child of God or that you cannot be used differently in the church. And it definitely does not mean God doesn't want to use us for impact in this life. It might only mean that you can not bear the title and role of leader in the church as Paul intends here. So we shouldn't turn our back on the aspirational nature of this list because it can and will impact how we live in these five areas of our lives — our character, commitment, attributes, leadership, and faith. So let's get after it.
ASK THIS: Which item on the list do you feel disqualifies you from leadership in the church?
DO THIS: Aspire to grow in this area.
PRAY THIS: God, I want to be the man you desire me to be.
PLAY THIS: Better Man.