S (Scripture): 1 Timothy 3:This saying is reliable: if anyone has a goal to be a supervisor [bishop] in the church, they want a good thing. 2 So the church’s supervisor must be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, sober, modest, and honest. They should show hospitality and be skilled at teaching. 3 They shouldn’t be addicted to alcohol or be a bully. Instead, they should be gentle, peaceable, and not greedy. 4 They should manage their own household well—they should see that their children are obedient with complete respect, 5 because if they don’t know how to manage their own household, how can they take care of God’s church? 6 They shouldn’t be new believers so that they won’t become proud and fall under the devil’s spell. 7 They should also have a good reputation with those outside the church so that they won’t be embarrassed and fall into the devil’s trap.
O (Observation): Seems like a tall order. Be perfect? Well, Jesus said something about being perfect. Maybe all of this language about being perfect and striving for the Kingdom is about doing all you can do serve God in your context on this earth.
Bishops and deacons are mentioned in 1 Tim 3. Those taking public roles in the church have a responsibility. To serve God and to do so full of confidence and humility is a tough challenge. Yet that is the call.
A (Application): If you don’t want to be scrutinized, don’t go into public church work. You will be scrutinized and critiqued and challenged.
Now, with a humble spirit, you can take all of that public scrutiny and work it towards good for you and for God.
If the critique is good and honest and given in a constructive way, then by all means: bring it on!
If the critique is given to push you down so that another can lift themselves up, then that is not helpful. In fact, that is destructive.
I can gladly say that over my years of ministry, almost all of my critiques have come in loving ways that have helped me to grow. That encourages me to keep serving God and Church. (For those few times I received negative comments in a spirit of fear, I tend to dismiss rather well…though they do affect me.)
Please remember all of this when you are using 1 Tim 3 to constructively criticize your public church leaders. We aren’t perfect. We strive for the greater things by striving for the Kingdom. We know that God will guide us and shape our work as leaders in the church.
P (Prayer): God, mold us into the leaders you call us to be.