Preparing for leadership
Scripture: I Timothy 4:1-16
Aim: To give some basic elements that should be present in those who are leaders in the church.
Golden Text: “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of those things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained” (I Timothy 4:6).
God gives Christian leaders to the Church of Jesus Christ in order that they may receive instruction from God and faithfully dispense that instruction to the people among whom they serve.
It is required of all “stewards” that they be faithful (I Corinthians 4:1-2).
This lesson focuses on the responsibility of the stewards (managers who are given a trust) of the “manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10). Notice the following points in this lesson.
I. The general condition of unconverted men is given (4:1-5). Here Paul points out that God the Holy Spirit has revealed that in the last days (which had already started when Paul was on earth) there would be a turning away from God and truth and a turning toward evil “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils (“demons,” vs. 1).
What a horrible thing!
First, men will speak lies in hypocrisy (vs. 2). Men will not follow obediently the truth, but will twist truth to encourage men to sin and disobedience to God.
Second, men will have their “conscience seared as with a hot iron” (vs. 2). They are cold, calloused, sinful and rebellious to God and truth.
Third, they forbid men to marry and eat certain meats (foods) contrary to the revealed will of God (vs. 3).
Fourth, they refuse to believe that all things are sanctified by “the Word of God and prayer,” disregarding truth (vs. 4-5).
2. The personal character and conduct of the Christian leader (4:6-15). First, he must exercise himself in godliness (vs. 6-9). This includes being “nourished up in the words of faith and good doctrine” (vs. 6). He must be a person of strong dependence on the Lord, and he must be a person of knowledge of the Word of God. This requires personal discipline, devotion and study.
Second, he must refuse to accept the false teachings of men (vs. 7-8a). Fables (false doctrines and teachings, see vs. 2-3) are to be rejected outright.
Third, he must not concentrate on bodily exercise, it is not as important as being “God like” (godly) in character (vs. 8).
Fourth, he must labor faithfully with deep dependence and trust in God (vs. 10). Only then can he be “an example of the believers,” to the youth and the whole congregation of Christians (vs. 12). Thus, he is to be an example to others in word (doctrines-teachings of the truth of God), in conversation (his manner of living day by day), in charity (love, for God, truth and men), in spirit (have a humble spirit of obedience toward God and of help toward men), in faith (be an example of one who truly believes and trusts God), and in purity (purity of life is absolutely necessary in order for one to be the help and example that God wants him to be—impurity is to be guilty of sin or sins, vs. 12).
Fifth, he must devote himself to reading, exhortation and doctrine (vs. 13). These things are necessary for the person who would be a faithful representative of God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. He must be personally growing by reading and studying. He must be careful to continually exhort others to be surrendered and devoted to the service of God. He must maintain faithful teaching and exhortation in the doctrine, the teachings of God, the Holy Scriptures. Not to do these things is to be uneducated in the things of God, unfaithful in ministering to people and unacceptable to God as His servant (that is a disobedient servant!).
The servant of God is called upon to not neglect the gift God has given him (vs. 14), to meditate upon the truths of God (vs. 15), and to keep himself faithful to the teachings (doctrines) of God. Thus, he will keep himself before God, and be a deliverer of those to whom he serves.