Monday, January 7, 2008

1 Timothy 3

What is this passage all about?

Paul advises Timothy of the personal pre-requisites for leadership within the church, so that people may conduct themselves in a manner which accords with the incarnation of the Son of God.

What can I learn from it?

I find it interesting that "able to teach" is way down at seventh on the list of characteristics for overseers. In terms of job descriptions, it seems to me from the obvious application of v5, that overseers were charged with taking care of the church - pastoral care and management, and from this snippet of v2, probably also teaching. Deacons, it seems from vv10&13, are especially involved in service to the church.

Wives of deacons (or deaconesses, according to the v11 footnote) "are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworhy in everything." This brings to mind Phoebe, of whom Paul wrote to the Romans (16:1-2) "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant [footnote: deaconess] of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me." Of course there are other women mentioned as having served well (I listed some in my reflections on 1 Timothy 2,) but Phoebe seems to shine as an example. Paul's commendation demonstrates just how deep his respect for Phoebe was, for her great help to him and other believers.

How can I apply this to my own life?

There are two ways this passage specifically applies to me. Firstly, I need to ask myelf whether there is anything I can do better to assist my husband (who is training to be an "overseer"), in training our children to obey their father, and in managing our household well under his leadership. I think in this area my most serious weakness is distractibility, or lack of consistency. I need to be continually asking myself before I plunge into things, "Do I have the freedom to do this? Is this the best use of my time for our family?"

Second, I must consider whether I am, as Jeff's wife, worthy of respect, not one who seeks to harm others with my words (rather to build them up), temperate (calm in spirit) and trustworthy in everything (even the small things)? From this list I really need to work on temperance. I need to keep a lid on my temper and limit my expectations so that I don't fall into the trap of over-reacting when something upsets my plans. I also need to change my approach to some things when I see it's not working, otherwise I am wasting my time and energy. It's no use, for example, calling one of my kid's names for a second, third or fourth time, in an ever louder voice. If they didn't respond the first time, I need to go and get them and bring them to where I need them to be.

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