Scripture Resource Passage: 1 Peter 2:25
Election season is upon us in America. We should ask: What’s leadership to do with being a disciple of Jesus?
Truth is, just as it was in first century days, leaders continue to dance our lives. Their music is not always pleasant. Their harshness can be caustic—burning souls nearby. While remaining hopeful we also listen to reality’s true-truth-filled lyrics.
Today’s posting is a Bible study—hopefully you will find it helpful. In writing, I did not want it to be technical; but I did want it to be accurate. With that study point acknowledged, we’re off—I hope you puzzle through and ponder the post.
Correcting church flaws while encouraging individual disciples, a close follower of Jesus wrote letters to the young church in the city of Ephesus and personally to a young leader, Timothy.
The letters provide outlines for leadership groups as well as emphasizing Gospel truths. By the time of the letters (approaching thirty years since the death, burial and resurrection of Christ), many churches had organized themselves; however, some churches apparently selected leaders in a haphazard manner.
Using the historic term typically associated with a person who had lived for multiple decades Paul (the close follower mentioned earlier) wrote of the personal characteristics for a leader, an “overseer—episkopos.” Naming an individual as an “overseer,” provided a connection with leadership models in the Jewish tradition of acknowledged older adults.
Navigating culture always requires spiritually filled shrewdness and age-advised wisdom (Matthew 10:16). First century churches were taught they needed mature leaders who understood God’s fulfilling work through Jesus Christ. Sounds logical if you are going to be a church.
Through Paul’s letters God provides a straightforward series of basic instructions (Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy), helping the church(es) identify individuals possessing such competency. To the first century churches God seems to be saying, “Your new leaders should at least look like this.”
However, the spiritual expectations (they are never called qualifications) specifically found in 1 Timothy 3:1-16 are oddly no more than individual disciples should possess. Read them over carefully and please leave the marriage challenge for another day (there’s more involved than is immediately obvious).
If you are looking for lofty standards of behavior based in the psychology of Jesus, then consider the Sermon of the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7. This is not to minimize the Ephesus or Timothy letters; but, leads to a profound image of the Christ as Overseer—episkopos (1 Peter 2:25).
The holy calling for spiritually filled, aged, shrewd overseers is not found in Ephesians or Timothy’s letters. My transition: The calling is given with a harsh observation and actually written to another group of first century disciples.
“For you like sheep were going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer—the episkopos of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25 NIV).
Leaders of boards, mayors and councils of cities, leaders in metropolitan areas, provincial heads, governors of states, leaders of nations and yes, churches ought to know their standards and services are best when they mirror the Overseer, the spiritually filled, aged One, who manifests the shrewdness of God—Jesus—the episkopos of our souls.
When you think of an upcoming election what does today’s post have to do with every appointed or electoral office?