22nd July 2012

Double honour

The Bible talks about "elders" leading God's people – they're also called shepherds, overseers, pastors and bishops. But what is an elder? Firstly, he is a man called and gifted by God to lead the church (see Ephesians 4:11 and Acts 20:28); secondly, he is qualified – his character shows that he is ready for the role (1 Timothy 3:1-7); he's also a man of courage, knowing that the buck stops with him, which is why the apostle Paul says to Timothy that it's "a noble task" (1 Tim. 1:3).

So, an elder is a man picked by God (not by a vote) to lead the church into world mission. Jesus builds his church – he is the chief shepherd – but he chooses elders as his 'under-shepherds'. That's why the apostle Paul goes on to say that "elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour" (1 Tim. 5:17).

Elders should lead humbly, casting vision and setting the course, praying for God's people under their care, caring for them, guarding, guiding, correcting – even confronting when necessary, preaching and teaching, being fair and eager to serve.

We live in a society that is almost allergic to authority! Our culture doesn't seem to value it. We see authority often abused, and so we stop valuing and trusting it. But that's not God's view of authority – he does value it: in fact he created it for our protection and good! God places elders in spiritual authority over us and then says that when they direct the affairs of the church well, we are to respond with "double honour" towards them.

What does this mean, practically? We see from 1 Timothy 5 that it means we support them financially – elders work really hard and "the worker deserves his wages", as well as in prayer, showing encouragement and support, honouring with our words, submitting to their authority (Hebrews 13:17), and not entertaining an unproven accusation. However, if an elder sins, Paul takes that seriously, saying he must be publicly rebuked.

It's never to our advantage to have burdened and stressed leaders; if we have healthy, happy elders, we will have healthy and happy churches. Good elders bring great security to their churches. As PJ Smyth says: "A church can operate without a building, without tea, without a manner of ministries, but it can't operate without elders… You can't have healthy, vibrant churches without healthy, vibrant leaders." (The World Needs More Elders)

Verses: 1 Timothy 5:17-25

Food for thought:

  • How often do you pray for your leaders?
  • Do you find it difficult to honour elders? Why/why not?
  • How can we, here in Hastings, express "double honour" towards elders?

Santino Hamberis

Posted by Santino Hamberis


29th April 2012

Lead, mighty warriors!

The Church needs leaders at every level – leaders who love God and love the church, who obey God, who desire to make a difference and are daring and diligent. The 'qualifications' for leadership are in one sense quite simple: it's not about Bible college, intellect, looks or being a gifted public speaker. Biblical leadership starts with leading yourself and leading your family.

All of the leadership attributes Paul writes about to Timothy are inward, character issues – matters of the heart, rather than external qualifications or appearances. When God picked out Gideon, He called Gideon a "mighty warrior", even though Gideon had been hiding away in a winepress and was the least of his family, the last person God should have chosen, by human standards. But God picked Gideon because He picked Gideon. He chose to love him, and He has chosen to love us.

We are all called to be part of God's mission. Desiring leadership is a good thing. The leadership attributes described by the apostle Paul are ones we should all be growing in. In order to reach our town and the surrounding areas and do all that God has called us to, we need more leaders – those who are temperate, self-controlled, leading themselves and their families well. Let's all step up, like the "mighty warrior" Gideon, and see what God will do!

Verses: 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (see also Judges 6:11-14)

Food for thought:

  • How are you leading yourself and your family?
  • What practical steps can you take to grow in the leadership attributes described in 1 Timothy 3?
  • What has God put in your heart to see or to lead? What are you doing in response?

Paul Mann

Posted by Paul Mann


1st April 2012

Equal but different

This morning we looked at one of the more contentious passages in the Bible – verses that don't seem to fit with our 21st century Western culture or that some of us simply may not like!

The apostle Paul is writing about issues that can hinder prayer and worship, and because men and women are different, he deals with different issues: for men, he is writing about anger; for women, it is modesty with proper submission. For both, it's about the heart – it's about worshipping God, raising holy hands in prayer and putting aside things that can be a distraction.

Following on from this, Paul begins to write about church leadership. In setting out male eldership, he isn't drawing on the conventions of the day or the lack of educated women at the time or anything like that. Instead, it's the paradigm of creation – pre-fall creation – to which he looks: the differences between men and women were part of God's original design. We were designed to be equal, but different, complementing each other.

Male or female, we are all created in God's image. Let's pursue God and become all He has created us to be.

Verses: 1 Timothy 2:8-3:2 (see also 1 Peter 3:3-4)

Food for thought:

  • Do any of the issues in this passage hinder your prayer and worship?
  • Do cultural values or personal preferences shape how you interpret the Bible?
  • What practical steps can you take to grow in who God has called you to be?

Paul Mann

Posted by Paul Mann










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