1 Timothy 3: The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
When I read this list I find it easy to get lost in the dos and don’ts. I want to whip out a measuring stick and check religious leaders against it, maybe even catch ’em in an item they DON’T do in the list. Heck I kinda wanna extend that to ALL Christians, not just leaders.
But something else struck me harder this morning. I feel the list asks a general question: How well does the leader LOVE? Do they love God? Do they have a healthy love for themselves? Do they love their neighbors?
If the answer is yes to those the rest of the list will fall into line. Now no matter what there is going to be failures and imperfections in a leader but if the getting the love aspect right is the focus (that is a relationship with God) the alignment of their actions will be true and pure.
I say this because as Christians (myself included) we can so often focus on what people are or are not based on what we should and shouldn’t do. “He’s not a Christian, he swears too much!”, “She can’t be a leader, she does drugs!”, “He is transgendered he can’t love God!”
Now does that mean I think an alcoholic, embezzler or adulterer should be allowed to run a church? Not nessisarily. But if we forget love and the hope that comes from that love, we loose everything. It may be worth a mention that the very first leaders of our faith were murderers and extortionists and the first congregations were made up of drunkards and prostitutes.
When our church leaders show the love of Christ (by adhering to the list) they attract others to Chrsit. When that happens Christ puts His love in others. That love transforms and when that occurs that list can seem a little less daunting.