(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),1 Timothy 3:5(NASB)
Some of Paul's important teachings to the Christian Church regarding elders, deacons, and those that are called to oversee church congregations and Christian fellowships, are recorded in this little book of First Timothy.
Paul writes an extended discourse on the character and constitution of those who desire to become elders in the local church of God. Such a man should be humble in their service and blameless in their lives. They should be faithful in their marriages, "the husband of one wife." This does not prohibit a widower or even a divorced man from getting remarried, as that would conflict with other Scriptures, nor does it require single men to get a wife. Whether married or otherwise, an elder should be a 'one-woman man', who displays loyalty to his wife, and is a man of integrity.
Elders should be temperate in their behaviour, sober-minded, hospitable, and able to teach sound doctrine. They should not be addicted to wine, nor should they be violent, quarrelsome, greedy, or covetous. Other eldership qualities in Paul's list include being gentle in disposition, gracious in demeanour, and living a life that is a good testimony to Christ, and one that honours His name.
A long and comprehensive list of qualities and qualifications which Paul considered so important in church leadership, are clearly laid out in this passage of Scripture. However, Paul interjects his eldership treatise, by asking an interesting, yet simple question, which could shed light on the suitability, or otherwise, of any man seeking to fulfil this role, "but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?"
Caring for the church of God is the role of every elder, and Paul points out that the man who is unable to manage his own domestic circumstances and gain respect from his wife and obedience from his own children, is hardly equipped to gain respect from others, implement biblical discipline in a Church congregation, or provide leadership in the wider family of God.
Paul is making a valid point that appropriate management in a man's home-life, is likely to translate into expedient leadership within the body of Christ. Many of the qualities that are found in a successfully run household, are the same characteristics that will translate into appropriate leadership within the Church of Christ.
Wise, kind, and careful leadership at home, should be the mark of every Christian family. Children should be taught to obey both of their parents in the Lord, for this is right in the eyes of God. Fathers should not provoke their children to anger, but bring them up in godly discipline with respect for others, and for the Lord. Those that desire to be elders should be loving husbands to their wives and not be bitter against them. Each man is called to love their wife, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for her.
No one in an eldership role should have double standards. They should not behave one way at home and try to clean up their act when they are transferred into a position of authority within the Church. Indeed, the qualities that are listed for elders in this passage, should be the standard that all believers seek to emulate.
May we all study the qualities and characteristics that Paul expects from those that are overseers within the Body of Christ, and seek to reflect every godly attribute in our own lives, both at home and in the wider community. And may each of our lives be honouring to the Lord, Who died to pay the price for our sins, so that we may become a living testimony of God's saving grace and sufficient strength to all with whom we come in contact.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the clear, biblical guidelines, on the role of elders and overseers in the Church. I pray for all who are called into Church leadership, that they may endeavour to live godly lives as outlined in the first book of Timothy. Grant them wisdom and grace to manage their own households in godly fear, and translate the practice of loving leadership in their homes into caring supervision of their congregations. Keep them from the many fleshly pitfalls that could harm their testimony, and may all Your children seek to live godly in Christ Jesus, to His praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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