Part of Timothy’s task in working with the church at Ephesus is to seek out, help develop, and (by implication and Titus 1:5) appoint men to oversee the group. “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task”(1 Tim 3:1). Despite the fact that some people are improperly ambitious, Paul stresses that it is still good and appropriate for men to seek spiritual leadership. “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money”(1 Tim 3:2-3). Each of these characteristics implies a good man who has disciplined himself over a period of years to show that his faith is genuine.
His character is also shown by his role as a father. “He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”(1 Tim 3:4-5). God expects an overseer to have children who respect and obey their father. If those who know him best respect and obey him, then he is prepared to lead God’s people. Paul adds that “he must not be a recent convert”(1 Tim 3:6) and that “he must be well thought of by outsiders”(1 Tim 3:7), which both imply that he has some time in the faith under his belt.
This passage is intended to guide Timothy to the kind of character he should seek—and seek to develop—as he builds the leadership of the church in Ephesus. Character is not revealed in a moment, but over long periods of time in a variety of areas. No man is perfect, but we can all grow to discipline ourselves and lead our families well. Not all can be elders, but we can all strive to be the kind of example these verses describe.
------------- One Thing to Think About: Do these verses create an unrealistic expectation for me of the character of overseers?
One Thing to Pray For: God to continue to raise up men of character to lead his people