No Recent Converts

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. 1 Timothy 3:5-6

As many of you know, we saw verse six played out firsthand. In the early Mongolian church, there were very few believers more than five or six months old as believers. Still, some needed to step up and lead, lest it be run by foreigners for a long time. We noticed that it was very easy for the leaders to become “puffed up” and conceited when they stepped into the position of power, just like the Scripture states. We tried to come alongside and guide but it wasn’t always easy or practical.

This is where we stop and thank God for Scripture. The Holy Spirit guided Paul in writing this, knowing full well about the struggles new leaders face. It was a warning to us, and with good reason.

There is just so much wisdom in the Word of God!

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The Pastor and the Fam

4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 1 Timothy 3:4

This verse has certainly been abused by parishioners through the years. I can’t count the number of times that a pastor’s kid misbehaves, and this verse is recited. Often the verse is noted even after the child has left home and is living a wayward life.

Regarding the child who has left home and is wayward, people make choices. We can’t stop them from making silly and sinful choices. The pastor can certainly instill great ethics and morals, but ultimately the child must choose his/her own path. I’m not even sure why that is up for debate. Perhaps people are just looking for ways to bring down the pastor.

Regarding misbehaving children still in the home. Kids don’t always behave the way we want them to. As long as the pastor and his wife believe they are still in control of the child, then they should be given latitude. The pastor’s family lives in a fishbowl. Every action within the family is noticed, evaluated, scrutinized, and judged. Often foolish and spiteful parishioners say hurtful things to the family members.

Yes, there are times when the pastor may need to step away from the ministry to get his household in order. What would happen, though, if even 50% of the congregation was praying for the pastor and his family? I suspect that would make a world of difference in the peace and stability of the pastor’s homefront.

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Not a Lover of Money

not a lover of money. 1 Timothy 3:3d

If you look at the number of preachers – televangelists mainly – who have fallen because of the love of money, you’d be astounded.

We need money to exist; there’s no disputing that. But the world pushes us to want more. They say we don’t have enough. That’s what marketers do best. It’s in print and broadcast media, Hollywood, and Nashville. The temptation to want something better than you have is real.

Many men and women have been ruined by the effects of having a lot of money.

Pray for your pastor and his wife. Pray that they too will be content with what they have despite the constant bombardment of “not enough.”

A broader question, however, is this: do you have enough? Is what you have right now sufficient? Or do you need more? If so, why?

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Not Quarrelsome

not quarrelsome, 1 Timothy 3:3c

Not quarrelsome doesn’t mean the person cannot express an opposing opinion on a matter. It just means the person knows when to step expressing that opinion in public. Of course that’s not always as easy it seems. But when you have an ongoing sense that people are observing you because of your role in the church, it changes how you act – or at lease it should. It goes back to a topic we discussed earlier, self-control. Yes, you could argue with someone until the cows come home, as they say, but is it wise or prudent? Whose interests are you serving?

Even with moral and doctrinal issues, knowing when to drop a topic is as important as it is wise.

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Not Violent but Gentle

not violent but gentle, 1 Timothy 3:3b

There is a direct contrast between these two character qualities. Violence is a direct result of anger and frustration, someone who is out of control.

Kindness and gentleness are hallmarks of a believer. Kind people overlook insults and the unkind comments others make. They know how to calm a potentially hostile situation. It’s certainly a characteristic lay people should be aspiring to be as well. Kindness and gentleness is not at all a weak quality, but a strong one to possess. It’s easy to “blow up” at the smallest of offenses, but much more difficult to restrain yourself.

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Not Given to Drunkenness

3 not given to drunkenness, 1 Timothy 3:3a

Evidently, drunkenness was a problem in the early Church.

A lot has been said over the years in the American church about drinking alcohol. Is it wrong? Is it immoral? Is it right?

It goes to the concept of perception. If the circle of Believers you run around with believe it to be a sin and see you drinking wine, then you have offended that person – right or wrong. Even if you can quote scripture and verse about drinking alcohol, you are wrong because you know better. The point isn’t to lord your freedom over the head of weaker Believers. The point is, as it was in the previous verse, to teach. In this case it’s teaching by example.

The pastor in this case should “toe the line,” so to speak. And as you can see, this was merely addressing drinking alcohol, not the drunkenness that Paul wrote about.

Obviously we can’t go through life in fear of offending people who don’t believe as we do. If, however, what we do causes a weaker brother or sister to sin, then we have erred.

Do you now see part of the minefield pastors must weave through regularly. Yes, of course, they have complete freedom in Christ, but they also weigh their actions against offending a weaker Believer.

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Able to Teach

able to teach, 1 Timothy 3:2g

This attribute seems like a “no-brainer,” doesn’t it? Most in the ministry can teach, but does the passion to teach others come out? Sometimes a teacher has to be creative in teaching because certain concepts are tricky to explain. In this way, pastors need to approach the issue differently.

As you pray for your pastor and his ministry today, consider giving him a gift certificate to a book store. They need up-to-date resources and often consider it splurging when they have to dip into the family fund to buy it. Doing this also encourages your pastor, especially if he doesn’t get a lot of “warm fuzzies” from the people he ministers to.

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Hospitality

hospitable, 1 Timothy 3:2f

The man of God churches choose to be their elders should not have an anti-social personality. It doesn’t mean the person needs to be super outgoing either. Being hospitable merely means being able to open up your home or even getting together for coffee or a meal.

It’s probably meant as a reminder that if pastors are to make differences in the lives of their parishioners they need to get to know them as well. Even in today’s world, there are a few who would gladly retreat to their Bible studies for upcoming sermons and ignore the people they are serving.

As we all know the problem of pastoring and doing mission work is people. It would be a lot easier if there weren’t any people involved!

Quite.

Missions and the pastorate wouldn’t exist either.

Therefore a healthy balance between study and people needs to exist.

Pray for the time your pastor spends on the Word of God and prayer and with other people. Pray that he will not neglect one for the other.

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Respectable

respectable, 1 Timothy 3:2e

People may not like you or your beliefs, but they can certainly respect you. There is a flip side to that as well: they can agree with your beliefs (and be a fellow believer) but not respect you. Respect, of course, is earned. The pastors I’ve known have been respectable, well-liked individuals and have had good favor in the communities they’ve lived in. It’s the way it should be.

Evidently Paul thought this was a characteristic that needed to be included in this list because many had acquired some sort of reputation where they lived.

Pray for your pastor that he will be faithful to the Word of God and maintain a healthy relationship with people in his community.

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