1. “A Christian Leader…Is Chosen by God”
The Context of the Letter
- Remember we are in difficult times as a church – be discerning; those who claim to be teachers are not always teachers of the truth!
- Remember the truths of the Gospel of grace you have been taught and hold onto them and live them out.
- Be encouraged – that just as the church in Paul and Timothy’s day faced seeming insurmountable obstacles for survival in the face of major change, God is faithful and he will prevail.
- A leader needs a mentor – a good leader is a person who is a follower – first, Jesus Christ, then others who are reliable and trustworthy. Is the person who is to lead you able to sustain healthy interaction with superiors and others in ministry (lay and ordained) and do they have some good close relationships? Lone rangers are not suitable for Christian ministry.
- A leader provides good references – Timothy had good references from Paul; ensure your prospective leaders can be recommended by those you trust for their faithfulness to the gospel.
- Value a strong believing home – in looking at leaders, have they had a good spiritual base? They may not come from a Christian home but do they have prayer support and a strong Biblical foundation?
- A single-parent family may not be a drawback to producing a leader – God was able to use Timothy’s mother Eunice even though she was the only believing parent. Plus, don’t underestimate the influence of grandmothers!
- Don’t look at outward appearances when assessing a leader – this applies not just to physical appearance but other categories such as demeanour and age – look at the heart. Seek out a leader who is in love with God and on fire for Christ and his kingdom.
- Be supportive where he or she has deficiencies as Paul asked the Corinthians to be with Timothy. Your new pastor (interim and permanent) will not only be the leader of the congregation but also be a part of it and will have weaknesses and needs. You will need to minister to him or her.
- Look for a good track record of pastoral care – you want a leader who has a heart for people and able to operate under the challenges of parish ministry.
2. “A Christian Leader…Is Gifted by God”
The Gift of the Spirit
- Look for a pastor who is aware of his or her spiritual gifts – ask them what their gifts are and how they use them. Good pastors have a sober estimate of their gifts – they do not hide them behind false modesty and they are aware of where they are not gifted and need the complementary gifts of others, ordained and lay.
- Discern what gifts you looking for in a pastor – this will come as you hear God’s word about where the parish is and where he wants it to go. What gift-mix in a pastor do you need in order to take you where God wants you to go?
- Search for a leader who is not ashamed of the gospel – who is willing to stand up for the truth within the church and wider society.
- Search for a leader who is open to the Holy Spirit’s power – and does not turn first to their own resources or efforts.
- Search for a leader who unites power with love and prudence – who leads from a position of self-giving and wise discernment of what to do and when in both personal and church affairs.
The Gift of the Gospel
- Search for a leader who is absolutely committed to the gospel of grace – there are a lot of “other gospels” out there – some patently false, but others half true with something to offer. Ensure that your pastor is firmly grounded in the grace of Jesus Christ in his or her faith and life.
- Look for a pastor who has a track-record of standing firmly for the truth and guarding the orthodox faith – who is not ashamed of the Gospel.
The Gift the Body
- Your leader will need company, support, and encouragement – as Paul did; stand by your pastor especially in the difficult times when there is discouragement and betrayal.
- Take the initiative in supporting your pastor – don’t hold back or wait for others to do something.
- Offer practical help – be a generous parish to your pastors and to each other.
3. “A Christian Leader…Is Called to Hard Work”
The Challenge to Hard Work
- Look for a leader who realizes the seriousness of the task – the importance and hard work of guarding the Gospel.
- Look for a leader who knows he or she can only do this by the grace of God – that strength to lead God’s people effectively comes from God through the power of the Holy Spirit not from his or her own abilities or charisma.
The Nature of Hard Work
- Look for a leader who is not afraid of hard work – who is dedicated to Jesus, is not always looking for the easy-way out and is willing to get involved personally in what needs to be done.
- Look for a leader who does not preach a merely “consumer gospel” – but one of deep commitment and service in all spheres of life – personal, church and community.
The Inspiration to Hard Work
- Look for a leader who keeps his or her eyes on Jesus for their inspiration.
- Look for a leader who has good role models to follow.
- Look for a leader who knows the power of the word of God.
- Look for a leader who has a love for God’s people and holds them in his or her heart.
- Look for a leader who will not give up on God and knows that God is faithful in the midst of our failure and weakness.
4. “A Christian Leader…Steers a Straight Course”
The Obstacles to Be Faced
- Ensure your leader has his or her eyes open with respect to the obstacles to be faced in ministry – leaders need to have a realistic view of the insidious nature of wrong teaching and its results within the church
How to Face the Obstacles
Teaching the truth:
- Look for a leader who “correctly handles the word of truth” - who is grounded in the Scriptures and orthodox belief and teaches the same.
- Look for a leader who is secure in who they are in Christ and so does not need to react defensively to those who disagree.
Dealing with wrong beliefs:
- Look for a leader who is able to balance avoidance of error with kindly correction – a faithful leader shuns an “argumentative spirit.”
Dealing with wrong actions:
- Look for a leader who avoids evil in his or her personal life and that of the congregation.
- Look for a leader who pursues holiness – a life which reflects God’s goodness and purity present within.
5. “A Christian Leader…Teaches the Truth”
What to Teach
- Ensure your leader knows that teaching and living God’s truth are inextricably combined.
- Choose a leader whose teaching is based on the Scriptures – who knows those Scriptures and loves them.
- Choose a leader who knows the purposes of Scripture - to lead us to salvation, to reveal the mind of God, to transform our lives; and to equip us for good works.
How to Teach
- Ensure your leader has the gift of preaching and teaching or is eager to empower others who do – preaching and teaching must have a central place in the life of a healthy congregation.
- Ensure preaching is done with care – to win over and not alienate and which appeals to the whole person.
- Ensure your leader is committed to the hard work and steadiness required in order to teach the truth.
6. “A Christian Leader…Is Called to Suffering”
The Nature of Paul’s Suffering
- Choose a leader who is aware that the call to suffer is integral to the gospel – especially where leadership is concerned.
- Choose a leader who is fully aware of the sources of suffering outside and inside the church - naiveté is not a virtue when it comes to knowing where suffering can come from, especially within the church and congregation!
Paul’s Attitude to Suffering
- Choose a leader who sees his or her ministry not as a job but as an offering of their lives to God – where undeserved suffering is seen not as punishment or failure but a gift of all that they are and have to God.
- Choose a leader who is willing to “die to self” and sees that death as a release from all that would diminish their lives and ministry for God – and worth the suffering involved.
Paul’s Response to Suffering
- Look for a leader who is willing to persevere to the end – who has a good “track record” of sticking with the task even when the going gets tough.
- Seek out leadership that looks to God for ultimate approval – and his verdict on their ministry, not that of others.
- Choose a leader who looks to Jesus as the model for enduring suffering – and thus has confidence in God’s ability to bring him or her through.
Paul’s Needs in Suffering
- Search for a leader who recognizes the need to work with a team and have a good support group - Jesus and Paul needed to have companions – so will your rector; ensure it happens.
- Ensure your leader is down-to-earth about his or her physical needs – lack of honesty in this area will cause needles additional suffering.
- Seek out leadership that values continuing study and personal development – and who don’t let the pressures around them prevent this from happening.
- Choose a leader who reflects the humility and vulnerability of Paul – who is not afraid to be open about his or her needs in the midst of the suffering and at the same time recognizes that a Christian leader is called to suffering.