Read 1 Timothy 3
Focus on verse 2-3
Looking for work is a full time job – at least, so the saying goes. Having spent the last two months seeking employment, I would tend to agree. I found spending hour after hour sifting through job listings elicits conflicting emotions. The vast number of available jobs out there is both encouraging and overwhelming. What I found disappointing most often was that little section of the job description with the heading “requirements”. This is the section of the job description that is designed to eliminate any candidates who do not meet the minimum level of education and experience the employer has set for the position.
I soon lost track of the number of times I would find what appeared to be entry level positions that were asking for at least a year or two of experience in that particular line of work. Every time I would think to myself…”how is a person supposed to GET the experience if one has to HAVE some experience to enter the field?”
In today’s reading the Apostle Paul give Timothy an extensive list of requirements that he should look for when appointing leaders in the church. The featured verses below are only a small portion of the requirements listed.
Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. (v. 2-3)
These character and experience requirements listed in this chapter are frequently the topic of discussion in church leadership circles as churches seek to fill leadership positions. In my experience there have been a number of factors that complicate this process.
- The nature of the task is such that those who are setting the bar in terms of how stringently these requirements will be enforced must first examine themselves to see that they meet them.
- I suspect it is a rare occurrence to find an individual who meets every one of these requirements consistently.
- What further complicates this point is there is rarely full agreement among existing church leaders in regard to exactly how some of these requirements should be interpreted and applied in a culture much different from the one in which it was written.
The way dilemmas such as this are often handled in the secular work field is that employers most often attempt to hire the candidates who at least meet some of the requirements…and beyond that they look for the ones who come with the most reliable references. So in effect it comes down to the old adage “It’s not so much what one knows but who one knows”.
This is most often the way it is handled in the church as well. So in both cases, since the ideal candidate can not be found, the best “connected” candidate is selected. In both cases we are reminded in all this that we live in an imperfect world that is tainted by sin. We are also reminded that we live in a world that God has redeemed through the sacrifice of Christ.
In this regard, the adage “its not what you know but Who you know” carries us much further than we imagine. It is consistently evident that neither church leaders or secular leaders are always perfect. We all fall short of “the requirements” of God’s law, however, those who can put the name of Jesus Christ on their resume, have all the connections they need to qualify for the position.