Foundations for Effective Leadership

Key Verse: “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”
—I Timothy 3:9

Selected Scriptures:
I Timothy 3:1-13;

AS THE APOSTLE PAUL BEGAN his journeys to find the people of God, one of his important duties was to help each new congregation attain effective and proper leadership. As he and Barnabas were returning homeward to Antioch of Syria, they made stops in every place they had established an ecclesia, and assisted each ecclesia to select elders. They had been in Derbe (Timothy’s hometown) where Paul was recovering from his injuries after being stoned in Lystra, as we read, “When they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch [of Pisida], Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”—Acts 14:21-23

The rest of the chapter tells of the stops they made in the other places they visited before coming to Antioch of Syria. The word ‘ordained’ in verse twenty-three is the Greek word kirotoneo which means to elect by stretching forth the hand. This was the procedure employed by Paul and Barnabas as they taught each congregation how to select elders.

Later, Paul advised his helpers, Timothy and Titus, about the qualifications each congregation were to observe in the selection of elders and deacons, as servants in the Church. These are given in our lesson in I Timothy 3:1-13, and in Titus 1:5-9. These qualifications are for a bishop—the meaning of the Greek word is overseer—and is equivalent to the word elder we employ for that office. “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”—I Tim. 3:1-7

We note that the qualifications for a deacon are the same, the principal difference being that an elder must be ‘apt to teach.’ Also, in the qualifications for a deacon, it is mentioned that he must “hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience,” i.e., keep hold of the deep truths of the faith in a clear conscience. (vs. 9) This is just as applicable to elders, though not mentioned because their aptness to teach must include this stipulation.

Finally, our lesson quotes an Old Testament law that the ox must not be muzzled who treads the grain (Deut. 25:4), indicating that a good elder is worthy of honor for the work he does. God appreciates effective and good leadership, and the congregation should also.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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