When I go to a fast food restaurant I am usually looking at combos. You know, burger, fries, and medium drink for a “special price.” It does save money, but you realize as you are eating it that it is not quite up to par with the non-fast food restaurants. When we have a special night for going out to eat we will step it up a bit to maybe a Red Lobster, or Olive Garden or some place like those. When we step it up, we also step it up in price. You actually hold a menu instead of reading one on a lighted board behind the cashier. Both are food and both are good, but a basic difference in them both is preparation. As you look in the back of a fast food place, you will see a grill, a bun warmer, and some deep fry cages. They will basically cook every meal on those cooking areas and it will taste good (most of the time). You will get a meal. When you go to the nicer place you will see guys and girls in there with chef’s hats and the servers will come around and refill drinks or take dessert orders. It’s all food, but one is able to exist at their cost with the way they quickly prepare pre-made food. The other will cook the food from scratch and they will have a chef who has trained for this different level of food preparation.
Believe it or not, leadership is looked at the same way. In ministry all service is good and all service is needed. But not all servants serve at the same level in the area of leadership. Paul gave some specific instructions in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 about one area of leadership called elders. Different denominations look at this level of leadership and come from different vantage points. Elders can be paid staff members of a church, and elders can be those who are non-paid, but make high level decisions in the area of church polity and direction. It seems like the elder position can be looked at in many different ways, but one thing is sure. They must have their act together spiritually. In verses 1-3 Paul states the fact that if someone wants to be an elder or overseer, it’s good he wants to pursue it. Then he states a few “givens” for the position and the need for that person to have their life and family under control. Why under control? Common sense would say, “if you are able to be a fair and spiritual person in your home, then you will probably be that way in that position.” It just make sense that a man would have characteristics like temperate, prudent, respectable, able to teach, and many others if he is wanting to lead in the Lord’s church. In fact, Paul reemphasizes the point in verse 4 by saying “He must be one” and in verse 5 the common sense point is brought to the forefront. The must part has been compromised through the years by churches and people of political strength who replace those who have the aforementioned requirements. Why? It’s the nature of the beast. We tend to try to develop everything on our own with “insider” position taking and the result is chaos. Keep this in mind. Politics has been in the church since it’s beginning and we are no better off now. If we just applied the standard Paul lays out in these verses it would make straight a lot of the crookedness we have in church life today. I guess scripture is alive and relevant for today. Duh!!! One last thing mentioned by Paul in verses 6-7 is that the person shouldn’t be a new convert. In other words, not wisdom that anyone could bring to the table, but wisdom that is developed over time and circumstances. Service that has been weighed by time and consistency. Godliness that is known by all in the church and outside the church. OK! I’ll say it. He needs to be a Man of God!! Why mention this Paul? Because without the right people in the right place, the whole thing will fall apart like a house of cards. Leadership is not something acquired, but earned. For believers it is to be thought of with honor and for those in that leadership position, it should be protected at all costs. In the midst of all this position filling Paul was talking about, he always brought into the picture, the need for Godliness. That is the key! A Godly man will protect his witness and protect the ministry of the church. A Godly man will step in faith and strength and humbly follow God’s leading as he leads others. A Godly man is the “chef who prepares each meal to perfection” so that those who partake go away filled. He doesn’t think in combo ministry plans, because He knows that every decision needs to be a God-inspired decision. Now that is an Elder. Do you know any? Hold on tight to them, because their numbers are fading before our very eyes. Elders aren’t just combo meals that are sold at the cheapest price, they are the ultimate combo meal. Great food from wisdom, and great preparation to make it the best it can be.
The Pilgrimage continues….