Day 4

Above Reproach

from the reading plan


1 Timothy 3:1-13, Proverbs 11:13-14, James 3:1-12

BY Debbie Eaton

Text: 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Proverbs 11:13-14, James 3:1-12

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
– 1 Timothy 3:1, ESV

I’ve been blessed with wonderful mentors in my life—family and friends, co-workers and bosses, pastors and authors. But my greatest teacher has been my dad.

I learned from him at a young age that how we treat one another and the personal choices we make impact how we lead others. I witnessed the choices my dad made in his own life to love my mom and our family, lead and mentor young leaders, and serve those less fortunate. He loved well and led well. And he believed I could, too.

Ethical leadership in business, education, and government is important; but God sets a higher standard for those in church leadership because they teach, model, and mentor Biblical principles for the body of believers. They invite others to go with them as they go to Christ.

Paul himself experienced God’s grace and forgiveness, and it drastically changed his life and his leadership. He understood the importance of living by God’s standard, and God saw fit to give him great influence in mentoring others—even entire congregations.

In this heartfelt letters to Timothy, his “child in the faith,” Paul outlines the importance of how character shapes the effectiveness of leadership. Hypocrisy in the actions of leaders can have a profound and often immediate impact on the faith journey of others, destroying trust and calling into question the credibility of the church. Specifically, Paul calls deacons and overseers to live a life worthy of the “noble work” to which they have been called, plainly stating, “… if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5).

Let’s pause here for a moment and reflect on what a conversation might be like between Paul and Timothy if we transported them to the present day. Maybe they are sitting in a coffee shop, talking about life and the Gospel over a latte. Paul, the mentor, is asking hard questions of Timothy, the young leader. Paul’s questions reflect his love for Timothy and the Church—they provoke deep thought, genuine conversation and, above all, accountability:

Do you value and respect relationships?
Do you know your limits?
Do you welcome others?
Does your public life align with your private life?

As Paul encouraged Timothy—and as I was blessed to witness in my dad—a leader must live well in order to lead well. This means, first and foremost, a life that honors God and obeys His Word.

Friends, let us pray for those who lead in the church—that they would indeed be “above reproach,” but that they would be so by first submitting their lives to God’s Word, seeking to have the character of Christ. Let us also pray for one another as we lead, mentor and encourage others in our families, our workplaces, our churches and our communities. May all who lead in Christ’s name seek only to lead others to Him.

 

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Post Comments (55)

55 thoughts on "Above Reproach"

  1. AC says:

    This blessed me more than any day so far. My husband is an associate pastor and is preparing to take the role of the senior pastor who has led our aging church for the past 14 years. We are stressed to the max, but we have already seen God’s hand in it all. So thankful for a God who provides and equips! Here’s to praying that this church will become a praying church, that God will use my husband to lead them closer to Him and then out to the world. Praying for and supporting your pastor is more important that you can ever understand.

  2. Maria says:

    So fitting at a time like this when wee should pray hard for our communities and church and government leaders involvement in this country.

  3. Antimony says:

    “Hypocrisy in the actions of leaders can have a profound and often immediate impact on the faith journey of others, destroying trust and calling into question the credibility of the church”. So very, very true. Those who are most visible are watched most closely. And therefore damage/hurt the most people when they fall!!

  4. Kelli says:

    As soon as I started reading the devotional portion of our study today and the mention of "my dad" I immediately thought of mine, who is nothing like the dad described in the devotional. I don't think of my dad as a great father because of the wake of destructive consequences he has left for his children. My whole life, from the time I have any memory up until today, I pray for a dad that would simply love me without any strings or some twisted emotional game of bargaining for his affection and oddly, his affirmation. I pray for a dad who had a mind that was sound and a heart that wasn't dead. THAT dad currently does not exist for me, HOWEVER, the dad I was given, did point me to Christ, just in a much different way. It was Jesus who not only gave me my salvation that saved me from eternal destruction, He has continually sanctified my life and loves me without strings. Jesus has never ending affection for me and my life is affirmed in Him. Because of Christ, the way that I handle my dad's "legacy" has been for Jesus to fill the gaping holes in my heart. And in those times when i feel like I got ripped off in the dad department, I remember the ransom He paid for my life.

    I wish so much that my dad was a man that was was described in our Scripture today. Crazy thing is my dad's name is Paul and my oldest brother's name is Timothy. How's that for some irony? My grandmother named my dad for Paul the Apostle because she wanted him to be a pastor.

    I was also extremely fortunate to have powerful and grace-filled women in my life, two AMAZING.AMAZING.AND.MORE.AMAZING (did I say AMAZING?) grandmothers (Esther and Jessie) and a mother (Grace) (again, these names :-)) who remained steadfast in their faith, in spite of having a son (son-in-law) and husband who was bent on destroying everything good in his life. They taught me so much about leaning into Jesus, putting my hope in Him and drawing strength from His Word. Jesus is the Great Psychiatrist and Physician. We all reached out for the hem of Jesus' garment – just a touch of His goodness, His power and His love overwhelmed all of the bad stuff that was happening in our home. Finding an escape from my dad gave new meaning to going to a prayer closet (literally).

    The environment I grew up in was not ideal, but in large part, because of it, I came to know Jesus as my Savior. God works in mysterious ways! I'm so glad He does.

    *********

    Lord Jesus – I lift up my dad to you today. I lift up all dad's who struggle like my dad does. Please reveal yourself to them, restore his (their) heart and mind and save his (their) soul while there is still time. I pray that you would place someone in my dad's life that can talk with and minister to him and that would point him to You. I ask that you would open his ears and soften him so that he would clearly see you as his own personal Savior. Help my dad.

    I thank you for Grandma E and J and mom this morning. Thank you for continually strengthening them to care for me and my brothers and sisters. Thank you Jesus that they were excellent stewards of your Word and obedient to the call You placed on their life to plant eternity in my heart and lay a solid foundation of truth and to continually point me back to you, always. They ALWAYS pointed me back to you and, although I went stomping and kicking sometimes, mom and grandmas never wavered in their response that You were the solver of all of my problems and struggles. I praise You for their influence over my life.

    I thank you for my great husband, who is loving, solid and dependable. I thank you for his Godly leadership in our home. I ask that you would bless him today as he works and influences people you strategically place in his path. I praise and thank you for my husband's continual faithfulness to guide and direct our children and grandchildren to you.

    I also pray for my Pastor, Assistant Pastors and Elders of my church today. I pray that You would continually empower them to point and lead others to Christ. I pray that they would be good stewards of all that has been entrusted to them.

    In Christ's Mighty and Holy Name and for YOUR GLORY,
    Amen

    1. Linnea says:

      Thank you Kelli for sharing this. It is so encouraging to see the beauty faith has brought to you and your family despite the enemy's desire for destruction!

      1. Kelli says:

        Hi Linnea – I'm so glad you were encouraged. Hopefully, this finds your faith strong – we must remain steadfast for Jesus! Have a beautiful Sunday! Kelli

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    3. Liz says:

      I prayed this prayer with you today; lifting all of them up. Our prayers are heard! If I were you, I would be prepared to receive. Remember, in Gods timing and His mysterious ways. <3

    4. Angie says:

      Thank you so much for that. I was just telling my friend how disappointed I was about my dad and you know what. I’ve never even prayed for him the way you’ve just done above. Not that the prayer would change him or it might. But just knowing that I have forgiven him and that I know my life is still ok. Because I do have other great examples and leaders around me

  5. kay says:

    I thank God for using Debbie to inspire us to lead. But ladies, please pray for me also, I am confident that I have developed an intimate relationship with Christ, but I find it difficult to live a godly life when the people around me, most specially my family think and act differently from Biblical values, they are drunk, gambler, always gossiping, arrogant, lustful, do not respect elders, and elders do not respect the young ones. I would have thought this is normal if Jesus did not find me and brought me closer to Him. I always pray for them, it's the least that I could do because I am young and when I try to correct them, they just seemed to brush off the idea, saying they are old enough to know what's right from wrong, I do not have to tell them otherwise. Honestly, I don't know what to do, I love counseling others, mentoring them, leading them to Christ, (my schoolmates, my friends) but this, it's hard not to get affected by the actions and words of your loved ones. They leave me drained, how can I lead others to Christ when I can't lead my family to Him? If it's possible then? Is it hypocrisy? I'm asking for your counsel. I'm asking for help. In Jesus name may He use you, to speak on behalf of His Word. Amen.

    1. Kimberly says:

      Yes, Kay you can be effective in ministering to others even though your family members haven’t responded as you have hoped. An old saying came to mind, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.’ In our daily walk with The Lord we are often blessed with the opportunity to plant seeds of our faith through righteous living and loving others. It may be months, years until those seeds produce. One may plant the seeds, another may water the seeds, but ultimately the person has to decide how he or she will respond to the call of the Holy Spirit. Their choices are not a reflection on you. I would encourage you to continue to intercede for them through prayer. Continue to live a righteous life, allowing the Holy Spirit to shine through you even in a difficult environment, and continue to love them even when you don’t understand their choices. One thing that I have learned in my own personal journey is that God is so patient, so merciful even to the ‘worst’ of us. Keep the faith. Kay, I will be praying for you and your family.

    2. Linnea says:

      Dear Kay, I struggle with this so much thinking there is no way God can use me when my family is in shambles. I am not in a position of leadership per say but I have always desired to be used by God day by day. This year I found out my 28 year old daughter is a heroin addict. This brought me to my knees and I was convinced I needed to hide this and never let anyone know and I was convinced God could never use me again. But God's grace is greater than all my sin. He has taught me that by me giving up all control to Him and letting him carry me He will bring me to a place of safety and peace (Deuteronomy 1:29-31). His grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9&10) in fact, for the sake of Christ I am content with weakness, insults,hardships,persecutions,and calamities – even heroin! It has been amazing to see how God is using this in our lives….. Out of the blue I have been asked to speak to student groups and share my faith. Even though Satan desires to crush me, God is using even the evil of heroin for His Glory!!!!
      I am not ashamed of my daughter. I believe God is healing her and will bring her to Himself in His timing. Please be encouraged and know that God is using you every moment and He will carry you above all the heartache and keep you safe and secure! God can handle your family- their salvation is not based on your actions! God is using you in ways you cannot see just by you trusting and abiding in Him.
      Praying for you!!!!

    3. Kelli says:

      Hi Kay – DON'T GIVE UP. I live and work in places that have a "mixed bag" of people who can be very challenging and difficult because I don't know what else I can do to reach them and I often feel like throwing in the towel. And… as I write those words about throwing in the towel, the word surrender comes immediately to my mind. Surrendering the people and the places to our Jesus – it's up to Him to fix these things that trouble us. I often think of these circumstances as God's refining territory….refining of ME (and hopefully them). Stay true to what you know is the truth. God sees you and your effort to be a witness for His sake.

      Lord Jesus – please help Kay as she goes about her days with you. Lord, I pray that in the midst of what appears to be messy situations and messed up people, I know that you are a God of order and redemption. There is not one person too far away from your grasp and I ask that you would get a hold of these folks that Kay is concerned about. Make it easy for her to see you in the midst of it all. Help her to draw strength and encouragement from your never ending well of wisdom and truth. In the places that she has opportunity to help and minister to people who are receptive to her, I ask that you would cause these areas to flourish with hope and healing. And for those areas that seem hopeless to her and cause confusion, invade those places with your Spirit and restore what we see and think is lost. Renew Kay's strength Lord – help her to know when and when not to speak and guide her every step of the way. You placed her here – refine her and help her to do what is best and in keeping with your will. Amen.

    4. Christy says:

      Kay, I love that you are seeking to lead a life that is pleasing to Jesus. It’s difficult when those closest to you make choices that are hurtful to themselves and others. Remember that we are in this for the long haul. You may not see change in your family for years and years. But remain faithful and humble. Be filled with the Holy Spirit and Word of truth. Your relationship will have ups and downs. Sometimes you will be giddy in love with Jesus and sometimes you will be dry and feel dead inside. Keep going back! Keep keeping on. Make sure when you leave home to choose a community of people who seek the Lord with integrity and passion. You make your choices and no one else’s. You can pray that God will soften your family’s heart. And you can choose to love and forgive no matter their actions. That will speak more than any amount of condemnation. I pray that you will continue in your pursuit of God and bringing Jesus to your friends. Life is a journey. There are no short cuts to God’s will and it will be hard sometimes, but it will ultimately be the most beautiful experience.

  6. kubrenna says:

    This post made me think of all the great leaders I have/have had in my life. Those people who live their life to point others to Christ jumped straight to the from of my mind. There was no doubt about their commitment. Thanks for sharing your Dad with us!

  7. gailwallace55 says:

    Great post! Just wanted to add a note to say that there is no male pronoun "he" in the original Greek manuscripts in the verse quoted at the top of the post. In fact, the masculine pronouns that appear in many English translations of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 are entirely absent in the Greek. You can check this out for yourself here: http://biblehub.com/lexicon/1_timothy/3-1.htm

    1. Marilyn says:

      Thank you for sharing this, Gail. I'm wondering if the same is true for the phrase "husband of one wife." The footnote in my ESV Study Bible says it translates "of one woman man." Could this also apply to women being married to one man? In light of yesterday's reading, I'm curious…

      1. gailwallace55 says:

        Yes! This is usually translated into English as “the husband of one wife”, but there is evidence that it was an idiom – one woman man – that referred to faithfulness in marriage. Here is a great article on the whole passage. http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/p

  8. Kimi says:

    I think verse 11 is what hit home most for me today. "not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything"…it's so easy to fall into gossip when you're surrounded by it. Lord help me to keep my closed in these times.

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