Elder Training Series

Session 04 - Qualifications Listed in 1 Timothy 3:6,7: The Dangers Of Having An Unqualified Person As An Overseer   (NIV based)

(Repeating) NOTE: As we examine each of the requirements in these next verses, again perhaps it would be prudent and wise for you to mark with a colored highlight marker or pen the items that you need to work on or improve in order to meet God's qualification requirements.

- - God has lists of specific requirements that a person must possess in order to be qualified to hold a position of overseer or elder in a church or ministry.
- - In previous verses are listed personal character qualities and good management skills that the overseer must possess, exhibit, and have a proven history of.

READ:  1 Timothy 3:6

SECTION POINT:  A recent convert lacks the spiritual maturity and experience to be qualified to be an overseer or elder.

- - To be qualified as an overseer, the person "must not be a recent convert", a believer for only a few years so far, a relative "beginner, newcomer, fledgling, novice, apprentice in the faith".
(AHD - 'novice', from Strong's #3504)
- - The danger likely to develop is that the new believer, being prematurely put into a ministry position of such high influence, status, and responsibility, will "become conceited".
- - Being quickly elevated to the position of overseer, this novice believer can easily and likely "construct an inflated opinion of his own abilities or worth", even to the excessive extent of being "pompous", harboring an extreme self-pride and a haughty disdain for others.
(AHD - 'conceit', 'pompous', from Strong's #5187)
- - Conceit has the enormous and powerful potential to carry a person off, away from godliness and into sinfulness, which it did with the devil.

A recent convert or novice believer can easily fall into this kind of faulty self-assessment because of any one or combination of reasons, such as:
- - A recent convert is inexperienced in the faith, not yet having gone through many different situations and applications of his faith.
- - A recent convert is relatively untested in the faith, not having yet faced and been put through "trials of many kinds" that "develop perseverance" and other virtues. 
(James 1:2-3)
- - A recent convert is thereby naive and uninformed in the faith, which is conducive to drawing incorrect conclusions about aspects of the faith. 
(see v.10)
- - A recent convert is not yet established in the faith, not solidly grounded in the tenets of the faith, which he has not learned yet and thereby can easily fall into faulty doctrine. 
(1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
- - A recent convert has not yet developed a rock-solid commitment to his faith and devotional life, sticking to the disciplines of the faith no matter how distant God seems to be at times. 
(Psalms 22:1-3,22-24)
- - A recent convert has not yet developed any spiritual maturity in the faith, not having wrestled with nor resisted his own strongholds of sin to the point where he has learned how to draw on God's power to gain victory over his strongholds of sin. 
(James 1:4; Ephesians 6:10-11)
- - A recent convert needs time to develop solid unshakable humility, which is opposite of and hindering to conceit. 
(James 4:6)
- - A recent convert lacks experience doing ministry, which involves observing, learning, and hands-on exposure to and participation in how leadership functions in churches and ministries.

- - From verses 4-6, clearly God does not want a novice filling the position of overseer in ministries, and like the deacons in verse 10, the candidate for overseer must prove through prior testings in life that he is qualified.
- - The obvious implication here is that the overseer must be a genuine true believer in Jesus, that Jesus suffered and died on the cross and was resurrected on the third day - taking the punishment for the overseer's own sins and for the sins of every person who correctly believes in Jesus. 
(John 3:16; Romans 3:20-26; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; cf. Acts 14:23)
- - Another implication here is that the overseer must be firmly-established, well-seasoned, and mature in the faith - being extensively trained in the doctrines of the faith, and extensively experienced in living out his faith, while consistently maintaining a solid holding to sound doctrines of the faith and a healthy personal devotional life in the faith.

- - A recent convert overseer will have a major propensity to think he is spiritually mature, that he has made himself superior and is a perfect gift to the church, when in reality he is not, nor is he spiritually mature.
- - God opposes this proud thinking, which is identical to what the devil thought of himself and thereby deserving of the "same judgment as the devil". 
(James 4:6)
- - With a high level of ministry responsibility and authority comes a high level of accountability from God, and failure earns a correspondingly high level of consequences, which for this job position is right up there somehow similar to the consequences for the devil.
- - And having God actively oppose an overseer in your ministry is not wise or productive for the well-being and growth of your ministry.

READ: 1 Timothy 3:7

SECTION POINT:  An overseer must have a demonstrated track record of relating well with unbelievers in the community.

- - To be or remain qualified as an overseer, the person "must also have a good reputation with outsiders", having good relations with unbelievers in the community and holding their respect.
- - He is to have experience and demonstrated success at relating well with unbelievers and people in the community, "being well thought of".
- - And he is to have demonstrated success at being a good ambassador and witness for God's Kingdom in the community. 
(Strong's #3141 - "reputation"; Acts 1:8)

- - Unbelievers outside the church in the community are important because they are the primary targets to bring into the church, which is a main objective and mission of the church or ministry. 
(Matthew 28:18-20)
- - The danger here is that as a visible high-ranking representative of the church and of God's Kingdom, an overseer with a bad reputation in the community automatically has his bad reputation transferred onto the church and God's Kingdom by the community, which equates and perceives that the bad attitude, behaviors, and treatment they have experienced from the overseer is what they can also expect from the church.
- - Churches and ministries do not want outsiders to be regarding and/or speaking negatively about a leader in their church; this destroys the reputation of the church and hinders the achieving of its outreach goals and mission.
- - An overseer with a bad reputation in the community would bring "disgrace" upon himself and his church or ministry, a heaping of "reproach, dishonor, disrespect, shame, disfavor, discredit", "disapproval, criticism, disappointment, rebuke, blame", "contempt, insults, discourtesy, offensiveness, railing", and etcetera.
(AHD - 'disgrace', 'reproach', 'contumely', from Strong's #3680)

- - Another danger here is that the bad-reputation-ed overseer erroneously thinks he needs to hold the respect of only those in the church and not those outside the church.
- - This perspective is a deceptive trap, which the devil would love to implement and thereafter capitalize on, effectively shutting down the outreach of the church or ministry.
- - A church or ministry with a bad reputation in the community will stagnate, and because people tend to leave or abandon an unhealthy church, it will eventually wither and die - all of which the devil especially delights to see happen.

- - The "devil" is mentioned in both verses 6 and 7, suggesting both situations described in these verses are potential footholds for the devil's agenda - the overseer being a recent convert, or the overseer having a bad reputation in the community.
- - This threat of involvement by the Kingdom of Darkness implies and warrants that significant and extra precautions need to be taken in order to prevent the devil from gaining these influences and footholds in the ministry, especially at this high level of leadership in the ministry.
- - A main point here is that the overseer is suppose to be a teacher of the Word, a guardian of sound doctrines, and a main manager and implementer of productive ministry functioning, which he cannot do if he is a new convert or has a bad reputation in the community, potentially resulting in creating fertile opportunities for the devil to gain a foothold. 
(vv.3:2,5; 5:17; Titus 1:9)

BIG IDEA:  Opportunities for footholds for the devil are opened when an unqualified person is given a position of elder, overseer, or pastor in a church or ministry.



-- Those of you who are an overseer or elder or pastor or a current candidate to become one in a church or ministry, are any of you a "recent convert"? 
- - - - If so, what does God say here in 1 Timothy 3:6 about your present qualification status to be an overseer / elder / pastor now or soon?
- - - - Thereby, what is going to be your response to God's determination regarding your present qualification status?
- - - - Being pronounced by God as currently unqualified to be an elder / overseer / pastor, are you going to immediately and quietly withdraw yourself from that position or from being a current candidate to become one?
- - - - Or instead, are you going to try to sneak through or perhaps make a big stink in order to become or stay as an elder / overseer / pastor?

- - For each of you here who are attending this elder training session, do you "have a good reputation with outsiders"? 
- - Of course, this would involve your speaking and behaviors outside of church environments, such as: in public settings (e.g. stores, restaurants, businesses, government offices); in group activities (e.g. sports, hobbies, recreation, concerts, school functions, get-togethers with friends); at work (e.g. with co-workers, supervisors, customers, delivery persons, the public); and at home (e.g. with your relatives, in-laws, neighbors).
- - If you have a deficiency in this regard, what should you do in response to God's requirement in verse 7 that you "must... have a good reputation with outsiders"?

- - For those of you who select, nominate, or vote on candidates to be overseers or elders or pastors in your church or ministry, do you see some of the spiritual dangers that are opened when an unqualified person is given a position of overseer or elder or pastor in a church or ministry?

[Additional Lesson Questions to ponder (optional, if time allows):
- - Without disclosing names, what other areas of initial disqualification of an overseer have you seen the devil gain a foothold in a church or ministry?  What short-term damage was done by means of the devil's foothold?  What long-term damage was done?
- - Discuss other relating ramifications derived from Colossians 4:5 and 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.]


Works Cited:
The American Heritage Dictionary. 3rd ed., ver. 3.6a (CD-ROM). Cambridge, MA: SoftKey International Inc., 1994.

Bible. The Comparative Study Bible: A Parallel Bible Presenting New International Version, New American Standard Bible,
     Amplified Bible, King James Version
. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.

Bible. “The Holy Bible: New International Version.” The Bible Library CD-ROM. Oklahoma City, OK: Ellis Enterprises, 1988.

“Strong's Greek Dictionary.” The Bible Library CD-ROM. Oklahoma City, OK: Ellis Enterprises, 1988.
Scriptures taken from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®
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