In April, we started walking through 1 Timothy with our leadership team at Grace. We will walk through 2 Timothy and Titus as part of this exercise. I wanted to share our thoughts with you. For those who are not pastors or deacons, but who lead in some capacity in any arena of life, these books are a tremendous resource in Scripture. I encourage all of our leadership at Grace to take advantage of these notes geared specifically toward leadership or roles with much responsibility.
1 Timothy 1
Paul wrote this letter to Timothy and He did so according to the commandment of God our Savior. Paul was an apostle, who according to Peter had a similar role to that of an elder or pastor. God’s commandment was that His people should love God and love people (Matthew 20). It was also that His people should make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28). God’s command specifically for elders was that they should teach the whole counsel of Scripture and safeguard the people from false doctrine (Deuteronomy 33:10 and Deuteronomy 17:8-13, reflected in 1 Peter 5:1-8, Acts 6, Acts 20:28, and Ephesians 4:11-12). Paul wrote this letter to Timothy according to these commands, primarily according to the command to make disciples of all nations because Jesus Christ is our hope.
Paul referred to Timothy as his true child in the faith. He had selected Timothy and invited Timothy to travel with him. He trained Timothy to do the work of an elder according to the command of God. He was Timothy’s mentor and constant encourager.
Paul made Timothy an elder of the churches in Ephesus for the purpose of instructing certain men not to teach strange doctrine. We are introduced here to the nature of leadership in a sinful world. I think, perhaps, it has been ill defined in most places. We picture a leader as a war hero, the face of an organization, the primary person that does all of the work, or the one that everyone goes to for whatever reason. In contrast to this, Paul’s version of leadership was such that Timothy would instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines. He was there to be sure that, in the context of a sinful world, people would grow truthfully in Christ and to be sure that God was not misrepresented by false teaching.
The purpose for Timothy’s eldership in Ephesus was also to instruct those certain people not to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies because they give rise to mere speculation. Paul does not write that there is anything wrong with some speculation, but mere speculation benefits no one. The ministry of the leader is to be beneficial to the people. The leader is to be a servant for the good of the people he or she serves. For Timothy, it was to serve as their pastor and shepherd them in a meaningful way. He was not to get lost in hidden meanings, in myths or legends, or in doctrine that was contrary to the Scriptures. Timothy, and those others who taught in the church, were not to be concerned with teaching something new or revolutionary. They were to be concerned with furthering the administration of God, which is by faith.
Our goal as leaders is to further God’s administration by faith. In context, this happens primarily through the instruction of the pastors or elders from the Scriptures. For those leaders who are not pastors or elders, the goal is the same though every leader has a different role in furthering God’s administration by faith. This is why every local church needs both pastoral (or elder) leadership and lay leadership.
What does it mean, though, to further God’s administration by faith? The word administration (οικονομια) refers to management, particularly the ordering of a household. Leaders, particularly pastors in this context, are to teach others to order the household or the local church. It is an administrative term and refers to the leaders of the local church as managers who are given the responsibility of management. This is a challenging concept in democratic “Bible-belt” churches and an impossible one in hyper-democratic churches, though we do see the church affirming the decisions of the elders in Scripture (particularly in Acts 6). While there may be some democratic means, the Biblical design is that the leaders would manage the household of faith.
This administration is to be God’s administration, which means that God desires for us to operate according to His own instruction. Everything we do, we ought to be able to derive that practice from Scripture in some way. This applies to every event, every song, every ordinance, and every policy. Why? This thing is about God, not the leader.
Furthermore, the administration is to be by faith. What does it mean for this managing of God’s household to be by faith? First, we must define faith. Ephesians 2:8-10 says,
“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
We are saved through faith and faith is not from ourselves but is a gift from God so that we cannot boast. We were created in Jesus Christ for good works and those good works have been prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. To operate by faith, then, is to not boast in anything we have done, but to walk according to the gift God has given and in the good works that God has prepared ahead of time. God’s administration, which is by faith, is consequently an administration of mercy, of taking opportunity, of serving others, of humility, knowing that it is only by God’s gift that we can come into His household, let alone be managers. Furthermore, it means that managers are not more important than the rest of the body- they have simply been gifted, by God, roles as managers. Therefore, they are to be stewards, not owners or CEO’s. I don’t know if there will be management positions of service on the New Earth. The fact that these position are primarily positions of stewardship and not positions of authority on this earth says much about the nature of the pastor’s, the deacon’s, the teacher’s, the administrator’s, and the organizer’s role and about what God desires from all of His people as He calls them to service in any arena.