Should our private and public lives remain separate? For the Christian, and especially not for the Christian leader, the answer is "no."
Lord, as I meet with You today, I pray that my mind may be illumined, my emotions stirred, and my motives rearranged.
1 Timothy 3:1-7
Consider: When it comes to leadership in the church, Paul is demanding, setting high standards. Leadership standards in the church are much higher than in the world.
When Paul spoke of government and public officials (2:2), he requested prayer that these officials would promote peace and freedom, so Christians could live lives "in all godliness and holiness." However, when it comes to church leadership, Paul raises the standard in a significant way. The Gospel requires high standards from all its followers. Leaders in the church aspire to a role considered by Paul as "a noble task" (1). Before getting to the position, these leaders must have proven themselves to be living lives according to the Gospel. This living is not evaluated only in the context of church but includes all their personal relationships (2), social relationships (3), business affairs (3), and family life (4).
The number of votes for a candidate is irrelevant; rather, the key question is, do I consider this candidate to be "worthy of full respect"? It is the task of each local congregation to discern the meaning of "worthy of full respect" in their particular context. Where there is no discernment of individuals worthy of church leadership, the solution is to elect the person who has the most votes.
The true character of a person is revealed in everyday living, public and private. Our present culture is uncomfortable with this requirement, believing a person's private and public lives are to be separated. Not so for the Christian, and especially not for the Christian leader. Not only are their interpersonal relationships to be considered, but their spiritual maturity as well (6). The standard is being above reproach, with a good reputation! However, leaders (and all followers of Jesus) need to remember that they are demonstrating to the world the difference Jesus Christ makes in life and relationships! A noble calling indeed.
Apply: What criteria do you use to support leaders in church and society?
Gracious Lord, I pray for the leaders in my church. May their motives be pure, their devotion unquestioned, and their lives beyond reproach.