Loving and Leading in The Home and Church
God’s Word clearly describes seven general qualifications for servant-leaders in Christ’s Church outlined in the above Scripture focused on mature faith, personal character and Godly relationships:
1) The husband of one wife (v. 2). For most of church history this meant no polygamy or divorce. Polygamy is still strongly rejected but many churches have chosen leaders who have been divorced and remarried. While subject to interpretation, when we look at the strong teachings regarding marriage, family and relational servant-leadership in God’s Word, I think the first church and, for the most part, the church throughout history interpreted it correctly and excluded those who have been divorced from elder and deacon roles. This does not preclude divorcees from other service in His Church with all servant-leadership rooted in humility and love above all else. When pastoral, preaching and teaching roles are separated from these spiritual leadership roles then churches could possibly interpret these roles as still being available and filled by divorcees.
2) He should necessarily be an older person as the Greek word for elder, presbyteros, (Titus 1:5) literally means an older person or advanced in years or life (v. 2 – overseer or bishop). With first century life expectancies likely shorter than ours today as well as younger marrying ages, we are better off to apply the principle as to a stage of life rather than a specific age based on the other requirements listed below, in particular that of maturity in the faith and servant-leading our families. In other words, an elder may have fully grown and married children and even had grandchildren by their late 30s or early 40s. That stage today would likely be 10 – 12 years later. These ages are a guideline not a mandate.
3) Ability to teach and lead or shepherd – ability to teach is specifically mentioned and scholars agree that a key role and definition of an overseer or elder is shepherding – (v. 2).
4) Personal maturity and behavior – must be mature and disciplined, above reproach, in his own behavior personally, relationally, financially, and spiritually, including the husband of one wife – see 1) above (vv. 2-3).
We continue with the qualifications for those who desire a good thing, i.e., to be a servant-leader in Christ’s Church. In order to attain to these positions in His Church one must…
5) Be mature in the faith – strong in his faith and not a young believer so he is not prone to pride and easily lured away by the flesh and the world (v. 6).
6) Have a good testimony in the community – reputation here is not by façade or hypocrisy but must be clear evidence to others in the community and church of a life well lived (v. 7).
7) Be able to relationally servant-lead his family – he must be one who lovingly and consistently serves and leads his marriage, wife, and children in line with Scriptural teachings on authority. He must set before his family a good example of servant-leadership. If he can’t serve and lead his own family then how can he lead Christ’s family? (vv. 4-5).
Far too often, leaders in churches are selected on qualifications 2) – 6) as they are applied to their workplace or community, or even within church functions and programs, but only lip service is given to the marriage relationship and the relational servant-leadership required in the home. This has been confirmed over and over again by pastors, elders, and deacons—not to mention their wives—as I have spoken on this topic.
From here we continue to lay the foundation from God’s Word and apply it to…
The Marriage–>Family–>Church Leadership Connection
When we do not elevate the relationships of marriage and family as God’s Word prescribes, we fail to put in place the very relationships and related lessons needed to teach love, humility, and relational servant-leadership—all required to build Christ’s Church on the apostle’s teachings and on Him as the Cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Based on my studies and the context of Scripture regarding these qualifications, there are several teachings and implications that we should take to heart to develop the loving relationships and relational servant-leadership in our homes and then in His Family, The Church:
1) Understanding of and obedience to Christ’s model of leadership as the submissive, humble servant’s heart that leads to an invitation of influence – this is True Authority that doesn’t change from the family to the Church to the workplace or culture.
2) Relational servant-leadership is learned through the most important and intimate of relationships, that of marriage and family, as we’ve learned throughout these posts.
3) God’s Word places a priority on managing (serving) those in the family/home, with no emphasis on cultural or business acumen or savvy (implied in the common trade or business emanating from the home in Jewish culture but never taught to supersede the relational priority of the family).
4) Marriage/Family management or relational servant-leadership must be a priority factor—along with maturity in faith, age, and experience as well as teaching and serving others in the church and community—in choosing servant-leaders (Elders, Pastors and Deacons) in Christ’s Church.
We must be honest with ourselves and with others if we are going to apply God’s Word to our lives, homes, and to Christ’s Church. Otherwise we will continue to prioritize cultural success above Kingdom fruit and look much more like the world rather than influencing them to know and become like Christ!
In The Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis has veteran tempter Screwtape reveal a little secret about human beings: we are incurably idealistic. “Do what you will,” he warns, “there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.”
We have mastered the art of loving and leading “from afar” in community and systems, such as corporate or governing relationships (including the church), all the while neglecting to be obedient to God’s Word to love and lead first in the most intimate of relationships—marriage and family—which reflects Christ and His Bride, The Church!
Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – God’s design and desire for a healthy community and fellowship of believers has always been that it flows from the loving relationships that begin in the marriage and family…in our homes.
Love and Lordship…Action Item(s) –
- Read the Scriptures in this article. Ask The Spirit to show if you are applying and maturing in relational servant-leadership in your home in line with His Word.
- List the qualities where you are applying and growing as a Godly leader in your home.
- List those qualities where you are falling short and/or need to focus your attention.
- Humbly work on those qualities while continuing with those you have developed more fully.