Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

The New Testament ‘Overseer’ Leader

In First Timothy Paul lays out a very clear list of qualities for Timothy to use in appointing overseers for local leadership.  This list is both descriptive and prescriptive, depending upon our application of it, as we think about the qualifications for Kingdom leadership.

1 Timothy 3:1-7
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

The Role of Overseer

Overseer; Bishop – ‘episkope’  –  one who inspects, oversees with the aim to help

• note that one can set their heart on becoming a spiritual leader; godly ambition vs selfish ambition

• “task” = “office” – emphasis on the work of an overseer, not upon the position

• Acts 20:28 – Holy Spirit raises up overseers for His Church

• Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5 – elders were appointed

• 1 Peter 5:1-5 – elders functioned as shepherds

• 1 Timothy 5:17 – elders are rulers; functioned as preachers and teachers

Qualities of New Testament Overseers

1) Above reproach
– blameless
– not just clean, but clean enough that they won’t even be accused

2) Husband of one wife
– probably refers to not having more than one wife at a time; that is, not polygamous
– note that this assumes the overseers are men

3) Temperate
– not controlled or influenced by intoxicants
– this could relate to drug use of any kind (i.e. alcohol, other addictive drugs)

4) Self-controlled
– sober-minded, sensible, prudent
– not controlled or influenced by anything other than a sound mind  (2 Timothy 1:7)

5) Respectable
– having good behavior, modest, admired by others

6) Hospitable
– able to make guests feel comfortable and at home
– Isaiah 60:11 – a promise for hospitality

7) Able to teach
– a skilled teacher of the Word;ability to pass on truth in a simple, easy to understand manner (2 Timothy 2:15, 24)

8) Not given to drunkenness
– not addicted to wine or intoxicating drinks to the point of loss of self control

9) Not violent
– not pugnacious
– not a fighter – probably related to physical violence  (see #11)

10) Gentle
– patient with those who oppose
– kind in relation to dealings with others, able to build harmony (2 Timothy 2:25)

11) Not quarrelsome
– not divisive or contentious
– builder of harmony rather than divisions or factions (notice the relationship to # 9)

12) Not a lover of money
– not covetous or pursuing a life built around temporal values
– free from the love of money; content with their economic station in life (Hebrews 13:5)

13) Manages his own family well
– proactively leads with diligence; cares for and watches over
– “family” = wife, children and household

14) His children obey him with proper respect
– children are under control; not rebellious
– children are obedient with respect for the authority of their parent

15) Not a recent convert
– not a novice or someone who is immature in their faith and therefore easily deceived
– someone with enough maturity so that they are not pursuing the position or power (1 Timothy 5:22)

16) Has a good reputation with outsiders
– a good reputation with those not yet in the faith; well thought of by others
– a good witness by word and deed

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