Leadership Conversation – Not Greedy – Not A Lover of Money
We are almost to the end of the list found in 1 Timothy 3. The list is causing us to ask some deeper questions. Of course we need to remember that this list is not exhaustive. But it does serve as a foundation from which to begin. Traditionally, congregations have focused more on some qualities and less on others. Today we focus on one of the qualifications that we tend to overlook.
From the Text, it says that this man must not be a “Lover of money.” Being a Preacher and a new preacher at that, I sometimes get challenged…or asked if I am willing to call out sin. I’m not fond of challenges, but my typical response to this question is to ask which sin they are referring to. Because if I call out one sin, I’m going to have to call them all out. Usually, when people ask this, they want to know if I’m going to be willing to call out divorce and homosexuality because for some, these are the most pressing issues for congregations today.
I believe that sin is sin…all of it. Some sin is more noticeable than others. Divorce, homosexuality, uncontrolled anger, violence…these are visible sins and they do not help the church. If a leadership candidate has fallen to any of these sins, then it is usually evident. However, there are some areas that are overlooked. Self control being one of them and loving money being another.
We overlook people’s love of money because even though it might be sinful, and as uncomfortable as this may sound, the church benefits from their love for money. These were delicate issues in Paul’s day and they are delicate issues here and now. People paid attention and gave preference to those who had money. People who had lots of money were used to some level of power and control…those who sought money…desired to make money…pursued gain and fell to greed had an appearance that is desirable to the average person. IT is the same today. These people have things…they look a certain way…they travel and look important…and they oftentimes help the church through gifts and donations and financial compensation.
In today’s culture, some churches give preference to these people and do their best to keep them happy and oftentimes put them in leadership positions because they are successful in the corporate world and seem like they know how to help a church financially. They are selected, oftentimes without even a second glance at what their relationship is like to money.
I realize that this is a delicate topic in some circles. Being in the more prosperous part of Dallas and Fort Worth, where there are literally tract castle neighborhoods…one castle after another, after another, this is delicate ground. Often because people do not want to be criticized for having money. Sometimes people feel guilty because of it. But does having money…a lot of it, mean that you love money? In Luke chapter 7 we see a centurion who asks Jesus to heal his servant. The Jewish Elders intervene for him…a Roman! They say, “Help this man because he fears God and he built us our synagogue.” Translated…It would be wise for you to help this man. He’s very rich and gives us what we want. He is a cash cow that needs to be kept happy. Jesus healed the servant, but not because of the jewish Elders. He healed because he saw the the Centurion was a man of unbelievable faith! He was honest…humble and a believer in God. He believe that Jesus, obviously a prophet and spokesperson for God, had the power to heal his servant. He was A man motivated by that faith and not by the money or power he possessed. Otherwise, the interaction may have gone differently. This man’s motivation was not the love of money. This man’s treasure was a person…his slave who he highly valued…a slave!
In Matthew Chapter 6 Jesus is talking about the valuables of man. He tells people not to worry about their life…he says, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. This brings us to the deeper question to ask when considering leaders for your church family.
Where does this man’s treasure lie? Does this man have a strong sense of stewardship?
Paul is describing a leader who is not ruled by his desire for financial gain, security or power. he’s describing a leader whose life will be marked by generosity and simple contentment. A man who lives under the love of God will steward his own money and the church’s finances with God’s glory and the church’s mission always in mind. Listen to what it says in 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19.
6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; 8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. 17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
How do you know if a man is a lover of money? Sometimes it’s obvious. But in many cases, it takes knowing the person…seeing where he spends his time…how he lives…how he talks to those who are of lesser importance. As Jesus says in Matthew 7, by their fruits you will recognize them.
Leaders need to be good stewards of the treasures God has entrusted them with. When leaders value people over money, you’ll see a kingdom growing church who’s heart is caring for its treasure.