1 Timothy - Being a Pastor/Christian leader

Background

1 Timothy offers practical and pastoral advice from the aging apostle Paul to a young pastor named Timothy working in the church at Ephesus. More than a decade prior to writing this letter, Paul had first met Timothy in Asia Minor during his first missionary trip. This epistle gives us the most explicit and complete instructions for church leadership and organization in the entire Bible. This includes sections on appropriate conduct in worship gatherings, the qualifications of elders and deacons, and the proper order of church discipline.


Make sure that your followers are grounded in the right teaching

1 Tim 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

1 Tim 1:3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer…

The responsibility of a leader is not only to impart the right teaching to the followers but also to make sure that wrong teachings are weeded out. In the church there may be some who believe in deviant teachings and out of ignorance and over-zealousness may want to spread these teachings to others in the church. The leader has the responsibility to ask them to stop.

Having said that, a leader should avoid foolish arguments with these people that lead to nowhere.

1 Tim 6:20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.
Paul is not saying that trying to discuss with the false teachers and convincing them of what is right is godless charter. Earlier on in chapter 1 Paul had emphasized that we need to instruct these false teachers in love and a good conscience. If you don’t have these, and only want to “win” in an argument, then Paul calls these “godless chatter” and “meaningless talk”.

1 Tim 1:3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer… 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.


Pray for your followers

1 Tim 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people…
If God has placed people under our care, we should not stop praying for them. While we could do our best to nurture them, there is only so much we can do in the natural. When we pray, God works in the spiritual realm and works in areas that we cannot see.

Paul was always praying for the church that God had placed under his care.

Eph 1:15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.


Live a life beyond reproach

1 Tim 3:2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

1 Tim 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

As a Christian leader, our followers are constantly looking at us as examples. Satan is also constantly targeting God’s leaders because he knows that the flock will be affected if the leader falls. Therefore, it is crucial that the leader live his life beyond reproach. This is not to say that a leader cannot sin. Leaders are all too human but if he tries his best to walk right with God, He will ensure that the leader does not fall.


Pay attention to those with physical needs

1 Tim 5:3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.

As a Christian leader, our attention is not only on our followers’ spiritual needs but we should also pay attention to their physical needs. The life of Jesus showed that He frequently met a person’s needs at both levels. Jesus would heal the sick and feed them in addition to preaching the message of salvation.


Full-time Christian workers should be paid

1 Tim 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

There are people who leave their secular jobs to totally devote themselves to God’s work. Paul teaches that these people should be paid. However, they should guard themselves from greed, especially when they compare with their peers outside who are doing secular jobs. Paul knows that these temptations will come and warn Timothy against them.

1 Tim 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.