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Scott Allen September 21, 2016

Leadership Conversation – Managing his family

Thank you for staying with us as we think through the qualities and qualifications of elders and Shepherds.  If you remember, we talked about how these lists in timothy and Titus are not comprehensive.  Meaning, that their are other things that aren’t listed.  Some are assumed and some may be pertinent for some congregations but not for others.  For example, Paul didn’t require that the elder be baptized.  But, we infer through our understanding of the scripture and the knowledge of their context that converts were baptized.  If we knit pick enough, we might find other things that aren’t mentioned but are inferred.  And whereas in some congregations, not much more than these lists may be required, in others,   the candidate may need to exhibit qualities that are specific to that community and their context…qualities that may not necessarily be listed in these two texts.    

And it is important to remember the these lists require deeper scrutiny and should not be glossed over at first glance.  Neither should we ordain a man as Bishop at first glance.  In extreme cases, even if a man does measure up to most or all of these qualities, he still may not be qualified to be called Elder. When we look at the next quality, The Timothy passage says, “4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way,” while the Titus passage says, “whose children are believers, not accused of debauchery and not rebellious.”  Some take this at face value and ask, “are his kids baptized?” and then stop there.

Sadly, in the past, some men have been selected because their kids were baptized and were regular church goers only to find that their kids attended church more out of fear than faith.  The man was selected and ordained only later to discover that he ruled his household with an iron hand and would go on to rule his church with that same iron hand.  So, is this about having kids who mind or is this more about having kids who are faithful followers of Jesus Christ?

“Quickly, on a side note, some sticklers have said that since the scriptures say, “Children” that the candidate must have more than one child.  For those who argue that point, we need to remember that in Koine Greek, scripture allows for the singular within the plural.  Look in Acts 2:39 and you’ll see that You, although singular, is actually plural.  But we do not argue this for some reason.  This is evidence of lazy theology…digging deeper requires effort. “   

For this quality though…the way a man manages his home is a significant insight to how he will manage the church, which means that there are deeper questions here other than, are his kids baptized?  In this case, the key lies with how he cares for those who he is directly responsible for.  Has this man shown the ability to lead his children…and others to greater maturity in Christ?  This question is answered by looking at his family first.  When Paul says an elder must manage his own family well, he is speaking as if a man’s family is his first little congregation, and “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). But if three of his four children have no use for the church, what does this say of his spiritual leadership?

With this in mind, some deeper questions may be worded this way,

“Is this man’s faith actually working in the most intimate and intense of relationships?…his home….his first congregation? 

Has he given his children a faith that determines how they live for a lifetime? 

Has this man, in the big picture, produced a stable believing family?

Does this man have a track record of discipling leadership?

Who do you know who loves and cares for his family?  Who do you know that has sacrificed time, success and possibly career for the sake of his family?  If you know of someone, then keep these deeper questions in mind.   For a man learns how to lead, sacrifice and love through the context of the daily interactions with his own family.  If you want to see how a man will elder a church…If you want to see how a man will lead, look at his family first.