On Sunday at 6pm we’ll be spending some extra time thinking about application in 1 Timothy. This letter is written by a leader to a leader, and large chunks of the letter are about church leaders. So how do I apply this letter if I’m not a leader at church?
Reading 1 Timothy is a bit like listening in on a leader’s discussion forum, where you find out what makes a really good leader. And the surprise in 1 Timothy is that leadership is not about being an A-type personality with good management skills. It’s mostly about godliness. Devotion to God. This is what God is concerned about in those who have responsibility in his church.
If we value these aspects of a leader then one simple outbox for the rest of us is to pray about those things for our leaders. And in 1 Timothy there’s plenty to pray about! Here are six things I’ve spotted that I’m going to make a note of on my prayer list. I hope you’ll join me in praying for our leaders in these areas.
Character (1 Timothy 3:2–3): The gospel isn’t just a body of truth that we believe. It is a truth that changes us into who we were meant to be. The gospel that our leaders believe should be manifested in their very being. Pray that our leaders would be self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, not big drinkers, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome and not greedy.
Homelife (1 Timothy 3:2–5): Whether they’re married or single, we can pray for the way that leaders treat their families and run their homes. Paul makes the simple connection in verse 5 that if you can’t run your own household then you shouldn’t be given responsibility for God’s household. Whether its marriage and parenting or being a good flatmate, pray for leaders' lives at home.
Reputation (1 Timothy 3:7): What do those people outside of the church think about our leaders? Pray that their character is consistently godly both inside and outside of church.
Example (1 Timothy 4:12): Paul’s list is pretty comprehensive: speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Pray that our leaders would be showing us the way to live a godly life.
Progress (1 Timothy 4:15): Yes, leaders should set an example, but that doesn’t mean we should expect them to be perfect or the finished article. Instead, Paul says Timothy should be making progress. There should be an observable growth in his godly devotion, repentance when he falls short and progress in the way the gospel is worked out in his life.
Teaching (1 Timothy 4:16): Finally, it matters what leaders teach. Pray that they would ‘pay close attention’ to their teaching, that they would keep believing the one true gospel, and that they would teach it well.