As always, Paul talks about the conscience. Here he relates it to Leading By Example.
“They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” 1 Timothy 3:9 The Voice
Who are “They?” ‘They” are leaders in the church. Here is the context of this statement about conscience:
“Here’s another statement you may trust: if anyone is seeking a position as overseer in the church, he desires an honorable and important work. Here are the qualifications to look for in an overseer: a spotless reputation, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, sensible, respectable, welcoming to strangers (allowing them into his home), and gifted to teach. Disqualify any drunk or violent man. Look for a gentle man; no belligerent fellow can follow this calling. And he should be free from money lust.
He should exert good control over his own household, and his children should obey and honor him. (If someone can’t manage his own household, then how can he take care of God’s family?) He mustn’t be someone recently converted; otherwise, he may become arrogant and fall into the devil’s condemnation. He should also be respected for his character and known as an honorable person by people outside of the church so as to avoid the trips, traps, and pitfalls of the devil.
The same standards apply to deacons: they should be dignified. Double-talking hypocrites, heavy drinkers, and those greedy for ill-gotten gain should not be considered. They should be people who hold tight to the great mystery of faith with a clear conscience. Put these deacon-candidates to the test first; and if they come through without stumbling, then send them out to serve.
Again the same applies to women in key positions; they should also be dignified, not backstabbing gossips but self-controlled and faithful to the core.” 1 Timothy 3:1-11 The Voice
Men and Women Were Leaders in the Church
Paul was laying out the qualifications and disqualifications for leaders in the churches in Ephesus, It’s a long passage but we are going to break it down. While I’m not going to elaborate on this subject, the qualifications for leadership applied to men and women. In the early church, women were some of the first disciples, were deacons, and had churches in their homes. They were leaders who worked alongside Jesus and the Apostles. So, this scripture applies to men and women.
This blog is written primarily for women. Women are ambassadors for Christ. We are part of the bride of Christ alongside men. If you are a woman living your life as a Christian – you are in ministry! Remember – the word ‘minister’ just means ‘to serve.’ That’s what you are doing every day of your life – serving Christ. In addition, you are leading by example. Being a leader, as a member of the body of Christ, happens every day as you lead by example in your daily life.
Leading By Example Everywhere
Whether it’s at home, at work, at church, at coffee with a friend, at the grocery store, or a walk in the park – you are leading by example. Why? Because we human beings watch each other! Sort of a creepy thought isn’t it? Well, don’t be creeped out. It’s just the truth. Think about yourself. You watch others. Wherever you are at, and whatever you are doing, you watch others. You see them roll their eyes at their boss or laugh at a bad joke. You see them clench their jaws in anger or shed a quiet tear that is discretely wiped away. We watch and are watched.
We also judge each other all the time. Sometimes it’s not really a judgment, it’s just an observation. Someone makes a smart remark and you see your friend wince. You aren’t sure why but you make some type of conclusion. Maybe you think the remark hurt them or maybe you think it hit home. Either way, we constantly make conclusions about people. Have you ever met someone and immediately not liked them? Then, later found out that your initial conclusion about them was totally wrong? I have.
Judgments and Conclusions
This is a normal thing for people to do. If our conclusions deepen into judgments, then we are in the wrong. If our conclusions protect us, it’s good, and if our conclusions are open to change, that’s also good. The point is, our example is seen by others and they form opinions about us based on that example. There’s nothing we can do about it
This is why the qualifications and disqualifications for leadership apply to every single one of us in most ways. You may not have a title but you are leading someone – your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, friends, relatives, co-workers, or people you don’t even know.
So, let’s break down the points of that long scripture I quoted above. The qualifications for leadership are:
- Spotless reputation
- Married to one person (no polygamy)
- Gifted to teach
- Able to control their own household
- Children who honor and obey
- Respected for their character
- Known as an honorable person outside the church
Maybe you aren’t gifted to stand in front of a group and teach, but you are teaching nonetheless. If you aren’t married or don’t have kids, then cross those off your list. However, all the others apply to everyone!
Here are the disqualifications – NOT:
- drunks or violent people
- lusting after money
- recently converted
- double-talking hypocrites
- greedy for ill-gotten gain
Those apply too! You might be a recent convert, so don’t immediately apply to be the Senior Pastor at church, but – in everyday life – live your faith to the fullest extent you can!
Keeping Hold Of
Going back to the very beginning, here is what Paul said – keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. This applies to every single person who calls themselves a believer in Christ. We must keep hold of. To keep hold of something means you have a grip on it. You haven’t just picked it up and then put it in a drawer. When you keep hold of the keys to your car, you are either holding them in your hand or in a very safe place where you can access them immediately.
I have a newer car with a giant fob. The fob enables me to unlock my car by just putting my hand under the door handle. I like that. However, it also means that the giant fob has to be really close by. I keep it in my purse which is hanging on my shoulder. That fob can’t be in the house. It has to be within just a few feet of the car in order to lock or unlock the doors. I have to ‘keep hold of’ it in order for it to do me any good! I do think it would be nice if the fobs could be smaller and not weigh as much! However, you see the correlation. I have to ‘keep hold of’ it.
The Deep Truths of the Faith
What are the ‘deep truths of the faith’? They are the guidelines Paul has already laid out. They are the ones in each blog in this series and they are demonstrated by the qualifications and disqualifications in the lists above. The guidelines are the very ones that help us maintain a clear conscience. The ‘deep’ truths are the most basic ones.
Here is the deepest truth of the faith:
“So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.” John 13:34-35 The Voice
Yes, it’s Jesus’ commandment to us – the one I write about a lot. It is the deepest truth; the commandment that sums up all of the law and the prophets. Demonstrate your love to others.
It’s Not About Perfection
Do you want to know what you don’t have to do? Be perfect! Wait – how can that be? I know, the list of qualifications makes it seem as if we have to be perfect, but we don’t. Here’s why. Hard times come and we may be depressed, mad at God, wanting to give up, hurting, and just a general mess. People are watching. They see that you are human – that you have feelings just like they do. Then, days, weeks, months or even years later, they see you again and observe that you have come through the trial. You have probably changed, but you still love Jesus and you have a testimony of faith. They are encouraged for several reasons:
- They saw that you are like them.
- You went through a terrible trial and survived.
- You were down but you didn’t give up.
- Your faith may have struggled, but it survived and grew stronger.
- Now – they have hope for themselves because of your example.
You Are Allowed to Be Weak
In 2015, my husband of almost 49 years was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident, I was there and was with him as he took his last breath. Then, 11 months later, I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I had to sell the home I loved as I worked 3 jobs up until chemo and radiation kept me from working at all. It was hell.
At the time, I wasn’t thinking about being an example. I really didn’t care because I was just trying to survive. It was a dark and difficult time, but because I’ve been a Christian for a very long time and had seen God’s faithfulness repeatedly, my faith didn’t falter. However, I still went through the depression, grief, fear, and darkness of it all. People would tell me how strong I was. I didn’t feel strong, I just knew God was with me even though I could only see a tiny bit of His light in the valley of the shadow of death. I’m not superhuman or special.
People watched, prayed for me, supported me in ways I could not have anticipated and were wonderful. I was not perfect by any means. Instead, I was weak mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually and others held me up in prayer and in every other possible way. I don’t like the position of needing help from others but was eventually so sick from chemo, radiation and surgery that I could not continue alone. Others stepped in and helped me in amazing ways. I did not and do not live each day thinking about how to be an example.
This is what we do each day:
- “keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience,” and
- “Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.”
It’s All About Jesus
Life is not about focusing on being an example or keeping the list of leadership qualifications and disqualifications in front of us. It is about the two points above. If we can do those, the rest of it will take care of itself. This is how we Lead By Example! It’s not about rules or perfection – it’s just all about Jesus!
- Be aware of things like those lists as a way to gauge our own lifestyle against the Word.
- We need to be realistic about the fact that others are watching us just as we watch them and that they may be drawing conclusions or judging.
- Base your daily lives on the Word, your own convictions, and what the Holy Spirit and your conscience is saying.
- We are not to live to please people.
- Understand you are leading by example, but don’t focus on it.
Challenges and Encouragements
Jesus set us free from the judgments and conclusions of the world. At the same time – we need a challenge – challenges to be better and do better. We need to be encouraging our friends to fulfill their calling and they need to do the same for us. We need it.
“So support one another. Keep building each other up as you have been doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 The Voice
“Let us hold strong to the confession of our hope, never wavering since the One who promised it to us is faithful. Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches.” Hebrews 10:23-25 The Voice
“Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly because love makes up for many faults. Show hospitality to each other without complaint. Use whatever gift you’ve received for the good of one another so that you can show yourselves to be good stewards of God’s grace in all its varieties.” 1 Peter 4:8-10 The Voice
Take Up the Challenge
Just as you have taken up this challenge to renew your mind and conscience, do the same with the challenges of the Word propelling us upward to where Jesus sits in heaven. Keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
Click Here to download or print the Devotional page for today.
**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
1 – 24 Day Challenge – Renewing Your Mind and Conscience
2 – Living By the Golden Rule
3 – Being Falsely Accused
4 – A Personal Testimony of Salvation
5 – Knowing Right From Wrong
6 – What is the Power of the Holy Spirit?
7 – Submitting to Authority
8 – What is a Weak Conscience?
9 – Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel
10 – Speaking The Truth at All Times
11 – Purity of Heart and Mind
12 – 12 Steps to Overcoming Guilt and Shame
13 – Living With Integrity
14 – The Goal of Unselfish Love
15 – The Shield of Faith