“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me……they too will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
John 10: 14, 16b
1 Timothy 3: 1-8
Leaders in public office seem to be loved and loathed in equal amounts. A Leader can be adored and praised one day and disparaged the next. The truth is that their impact on public life can be huge so accountability and good character are essential. Leadership in the Church is certainly not exempt from this burden. In fact, considering the truth and import of the Gospel, quality of leadership is an imperative. The Gospel is counter cultural in its truth and leads to a transformed lifestyle that is different from that which is seen in the world. The Christian leader should reflect this truth; their lives should tell a story, the Gospel story.
In today’s passage Paul is laying out the characteristics of such a leader. If we recall the context that Paul is writing into (we looked at this in my last two blogs) we will be able to see some key issues that he is seeking to address. There are ten qualifications that Paul details (can you identify them?). Notice that these qualifications focus on the quality of the character and lifestyle of the leader not on specific duties. Their lives are to embody the message that they are to proclaim. The ‘overseer’ or bishop (vs. 1) was an individual who looked after the community as a whole. By the end of the first century the word had come to denote a particular office of leadership and may have been allocated to an individual in a leadership team or indeed a person who had responsibility for an area with a number of churches. In St. Aidan’s Anglican denomination Bishops are viewed within an apostolic succession connecting to the early Church. We can follow this growth of leadership from Christ Himself as He appointed the Apostles, Peter as the rock for the Church (Matthew 16: 18) and then gave the Holy Spirit so that the Church grew. We must never forget that Jesus alone is our Shepherd and our only High Priest (Hebrews 7: 22- 8: 2) but clearly He has given roles and gifts of and for leadership.
Those who ‘set their heart’ on such a role ‘desire a noble task,’ (vs. 1), they are ‘set apart’ for this service and make vows before God. They are however simply part of the Body of Christ with a specific role, they are to imitate the Lord Jesus and seek to guide His people in His will and whilst doing so witness to the truth of God (vs. 7). As we will consider on Sunday each member of the body needs one another and belongs to one another so please pray for and support your leaders (Romans 12: 1-8).
To Ponder: Why do you think the character and lifestyle of the leader is emphasised rather than specific duties? Can defining the duties of the overall leader hinder or even muzzle their effectiveness for the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 9)?
Pray: Through your Spirit, heavenly Father, give these your servants
grace and power to fulfil their ministry. Make them faithful to serve
and constant in advancing your gospel in the world. May they follow the
example of Jesus Christ your Son, who washed the feet of his disciples,
and set the needs of others before his own. May their life be disciplined
and holy, their words declare your love and their actions reveal your glory,
that your people may walk with them in the way of truth and be made
ready for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom, with you and your
Holy Spirit, belong glory and honour, worship and praise, now and for
A prayer from my ordination service – please pray for all Church Leaders.
Praise: The Servant King
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCAdWs-ZyEk
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.