What are some qualities and characteristics of a good leader?
The Bible takes the role and responsibilities of those in church leadership quite seriously. The apostle Paul went to great lengths in laying out what those qualifications and responsibilities look like in his letters to Timothy and Titus. However, while these characteristic traits may be specific to leadership within the church, they should be true of all Christians, no matter their role within the church.
This article covers significant themes regarding pastors found in Paul’s Pastoral Epistles. Reading through the Pastoral Epistles helps God’s people learn to obey His call to pray and support the pastors He has given to lead us in our mission of making disciples. God uses pastors to lead His people in obedience to His Word. Most of us won’t go full-time being a pastor or minister on staff at a church so why bother ourselves with these three letters that are called the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim; 2 Tim; Titus)?
The reason is quite simple: the things Paul taught to this young man named Timothy aren’t just for those in church leadership, but for all Christians everywhere. Not only should the pastors set an example to the body, but we should be an example to the other believers as well. Timothy was a young pastor in the early stages of continuing a vibrant ministry. Timothy would soon take over the leadership form the apostle Paul who sought to encourage his son in the faith for the pastoral calling God placed on Timothy’s life.
Paul’s instructions to Timothy – and to all pastors who came after him – reminds us of both our huge responsibility and great privilege pastors have shepherding a flock in the local church. Or those of us leading a small group, bible study, or a ministry that we have to shepherd. Peter points out this responsibility by saying that as we shepherd the flock among us we can’t do so out of compulsion for dishonest gain or for being lords over their life, but being examples (2Peter 5:2-3). We have a huge privilege and a great responsibility.
Let’s see what Paul has to say in 1Timothy 4:11-16
Paul listed what was supposed to mark Timothy’s ministry. First, Timothy was to set an example. A major way pastors lead churches to grow is through the example they set and in the way they live out their faith among the believers and non-believers. We too, must be an example to those around us in the way we live out our faith. We see that Paul mentions that is done by our speech and in how we speak toward others and the use of our language, along with our conduct. Our conduct must match our speech. If we are saying one thing and acting a different way than we are setting a bad example as well as being hypocritical or contradictory. Timothy’s example to the believers or non-believes, as well as ours, must be one of love demonstrated by faith, therefore by keeping ourselves pure in speech and conduct.
Paul was reminding Timothy that his youth had nothing to do with the way he was to be an example. Even though you are young you can be an example to your peers as well as to your parents in the way you live out your faith in speech, conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. The thing is we must walk in a manner worthy of our calling toward those on the outside – and allowing our speech always to be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one (Col.4:5-6).
Although Timothy may have been considered a younger leader, his age didn’t prevent him from setting an example to the churches. Throughout Scripture, God often used young people at strategic times: Joseph, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc. Paul encouraged Timothy not to be concerned about his age or how others might treat him due to his youth, but to focus on living an exemplary life. Timothy’s life needed to be a pattern of a life given over to Christ.
Then Paul tells Timothy to continue to grow as a believer. These instructions apply to both pastors and us as well. “Practice these things” carries the idea of a consistent routine. Paul was encouraging Timothy to develop healthy routines and follow them. (Spiritual Disciplines) This is something we should all be doing as we seek to grow and mature in our walk with Christ – we need to develop spiritual disciplines that help keep us in the Word and focused on the Lord so we are able to grow in our faith and our relationship with the Lord.
How can we relate Paul’s instructions to Timothy to our lives, even if we are not pastors? We should also set an example to those around us in the areas Paul listed and practice Spiritual disciplines in order to grow and mature in our faith, and so on.
What are some spiritual disciplines you should be practicing? Or are practicing?
The key word Paul gives to Timothy, which applies to us as well, is to persevere in these things that are listed, for in doing so you will save some. Our example, as we persevere through life and teaching the truth can lead others to Christ. It’s one thing to faithfully proclaim God’s Word even when you are young; it’s another thing to do so when it is costly. Paul knew that time was coming, so he continued to encourage Timothy and prepare him for what was to come.
Read 2 Timothy 4:1-8
We must faithfully teach the Word with great patience despite those who may not tolerate sound doctrine and be ready to rebuke, correct, and encourage. Paul earlier in the epistle was telling Timothy to be gentle to all, able to teach.
Read 2 Timothy 2:23-25
So Paul was calling on Timothy to have clear conviction of faithful doctrine. Teaching the Word means we don’t have a choice to waiver in our convictions when they conflict with popular ideas in culture. For example, Jesus is not a way to God. Jesus is the ONLY way to God. So Paul wanted Timothy to stand firm and to not waiver in His faith but to persevere because he is going to endure hardship and so he must continue in the faith doing the work of an evangelist by fulfilling his ministry.
Paul was letting Timothy know that he understands the struggles that he will face and he tries to exhort him and to remind him that he has fought the good fight and he kept the faith and he wants Timothy to do the same. Not only did Paul exhort Timothy but he also gave a disciple name Titus some practical instructions in how to teach those who are in Crete to live consistently with sound teaching, we see that throughout the first ten verses of chapter 2. Beginning in verse 11, Paul then takes Titus back to the doctrinal basis for the reason we live the way he described and that it is all because of the grace of God.
Read Titus 2:11-14
Paul first reminded Titus of a fundamental conviction of Scripture – the belief that all are accepted by God through faith in Jesus. Scripture clearly indicates the requirement of faith in salvation and the danger of unbelief. What this means is that salvation is available to all who believe – no matter their ethnicity, social status, language, or any other factor. The gospel encourages us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. The grace that we receive reminds us that God’s way is better than any of our worldly, fleshly, sinful desires no matter how appealing they may seem. However, because of Jesus, we can deny un-godliness and worldly lusts, but we can go even further and live in a way that is Christ-like. Because of Jesus’ work to save us, the Spirit within us empowers us to make sensible choices each day. In Christ, not only have we been given His perfect righteousness, but we also have the power to live righteously as He changes us and empowers us.
How should remembering the gospel change the way we live each day in our homes, schools, neighborhoods, and beyond?
Part of the gospel includes our future state and resurrection. When we live our daily lives with the constant reminder of what one day will be, we are motivated in the present to live in a way that reflects our future reality. We can live godly lives, even now, knowing this life is not the end. There is a blessed hope in the restoration of all things, a hope that is grounded in Jesus who is God, Savior, and Redeemer. Jesus redeems us from lawlessness, so we can deny ungodliness and lusts and live doing good works that bring God the glory.
To be clear, we don’t do good works to earn anything from God. We are saved without works, but we are saved unto good works. Another words, we do good works because the transforming work of the Spirit changes our nature – becoming a new creature in Christ (2 Corn.5:16-17), creating a new heart in us that is eager to do good works out of gratitude.
What are some personal challenges in your daily life that distract you from pursuing godliness? Maybe relationships, social media, entertainment, and so on.
Near the end of His life Paul wrote letters to Timothy and Titus, two of his most trusted children in the faith. Paul instructed them to follow the model of the Good Shepherd – Jesus – who guides his people into the knowledge of truth. Because Jesus died to serve the church, pastors and leaders are called to live to serve the church in obedience to His Word. Let us not cheapen the grace we have received from Christ so that we are living a life contrary to the gospel, but let us live with a heart of gratitude for the grace we have received and allow that to cause us to do good works and glorify His great name (Eph.2:8-10). To be an example to both the believers and non-believers.