Abductive Columns

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Church Leaders--Role Models--How So?

Church leaders and their families are expected to be role models. But, what are they to model? For too long we've measured effectiveness and competency by a “perfectionist model” when, in reality, the measuring of leadership should be based on a “confessional model.” Jesus gives us a picture of the confessional model in Luke 18. In this parable the publican admits his needs and faults rather than hiding them. The Pharisee does just the opposite and denies his faults. This parable ought to give leaders, preachers, elders, and every family the right and freedom to say, “We have struggles, fights, losses, and unanswered questions. We don't love each other all the time like we should, but we survive because we admit (confess) this and pray for each other.”

Yes, leaders are to be “role models” but we can't pretend to be Jesus incarnate. If we do, we’re as guilty as the Pharisee who prayed as if he had no problems. We are only frail representatives of Christ.

A “role model” passages that needs a little theological fine-tuning is 1 Timothy 3:4-5.

“...He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?”
I want to key in on this phrase
“must manage his own family well” (NIV)
“…manages his own household well.” (NAS)
What does “well-managed” mean? Do we interpret this to mean immaculate and eliminate every man from shepherding God’s people? This is not what Paul was trying to convey. “Well managed,” doesn't mean “well-behaved” or even that a prospective shepherd’s children must be visibly involved in the church. In this passage Paul deals with basic character traits, not the way every episode of life “has” to turn out. “Well-managed” refers not so much to a result as it does to the importance of entering into the parental process and shouldering the responsibilities of the job.

Both Eli and Samuel had disappointing results with their children. Yet, Jehovah punished Eli for his ineffective parenting and blessed Samuel, who shouldered his responsibility, even though he had an unfortunate result. If a prospective leader is trying to be a “good father” and hasn't shirked his God-given responsibility, yet his children don't “turn out”, is he a Samuel? On the other hand, if the father irresponsibly ignores his parental duties, with a predictable result, is he an Eli?

“Well managed” is the faithful process of parenting, not the end result. It’s time we begin distinguishing between the self-destructive behavior brought on by poor parenting and the developmental crisis that teenagers predictably pass through. For too many years we've eliminated good, godly men who've desired to lead Gods people!


At 6:03 AM, Blogger Charlie said...

Thanks! I'm dealing with "the developmental crisis that teenagers predictably pass through" at my house. And I've had that "well-managed family" passage in my mind and heart for a while now. I often think that I'm not qualified for service, based on some episodes in my family's recent history.

Thanks for a dose of much-needed - and much-appreciated! - perspective!

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Big Mike Lewis said...


What implication does this have on how many faithful (and already hard working...sometimes so more than the installed leadership) men have been passed over to be our leaders because they had a child stray?


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