(Prepared to go along with a sermon on 1 Timothy 5:17-22)
In his first letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul devotes a lot of time to discussing church leaders. He talks about their character. He talks about their qualifications. He talks about about their work. As I read through the book one question which comes to my mind has to do with the motivation of church leaders. Why do people seek positions of leadership? What drives someone to become an evangelist or a deacon or an elder?
There’s no doubt that some seek to lead the church for selfish reasons. I’m sure that most of us have encountered or observed some church leaders who are in it for the money. In chapter 6, verse 5, Paul writes about people who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Others want a leading position in the church for the prestige or social status. They like the title. On several occasions Jesus had to rebuke the disciples for arguing about who was the greatest or most important.
However, the best and greatest church leaders are not in their positions because of selfish motives. In speaking about the religious leaders of His day, Jesus said to the disciples, “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Matthew 23:5-11 NIV)
According to Jesus, it’s how much a leader serves others which determines his greatness. Service rather than using his position for personal advantage or to browbeat others into doing what he wants.
What motivates a leader to put the interests of others first? What motivates him to consider others better than himself? (See Philippians 2:3-4.) Certainly, one of the motivations is love – a genuine desire to do what is best for the other person. When we love someone, we will endure all kinds of hardship, inconvenience and expense for their sake. Good church leaders certainly do put up with a lot in order to help those in their care.
However, I think there’s something else which motivates good church leaders. It is joy. There really is joy in watching others make spiritual progress. The Apostle John writes, “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 3-4 NIV)
Along the same lines, Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (NIV)
This brings us to Jesus and His motivation for enduring all that He went through. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way in chapter 12, verse 2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NIV)
One of the reasons we’re gathered here this morning is to remember Jesus and His death on the cross. As we eat the break which represents His body, and as we drink the juice which represents His blood, I want us to ask ourselves a question: “Do I bring Him joy?”
If we’re a cause of sorrow, rather than joy, then as we take the emblems let’s commit to making the changes we need to make in order to be a source of joy to Christ.