Posted by: watchman | July 15, 2009

First Timothy 3: Ambition and Desire

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.
– Timothy 3:1 (TNIV)

My friend Toby used to say that the first requirement for a minister was “desire.” It is important that a person desires to go the route of being an overseer. An overseer is a person that is capable of facilitating discipleship, and mentoring future leaders.

Something that Paul is not saying here is that ambition is a necessary qualification for the office. The church today is full of church people who aspire to make some monument unto themselves. They are ambitious to a fault. These ambitious preachers are not ambitious to make a difference, not ambitious to make significant Kingdom impact, but rather, they are ambitious for themselves.

My convention is one of the worst about this. The pastorate is often seen as a means of stepping into a higher position in denominational hierarchy.

This is not what is being said by Paul. in fact it is the exact opposite. Timothy was the overseer of the church at Ephesus.Under his oversight was an array of elders. I believe that Paul was saying to Timothy that if any of these elders – disciples of Timothy – desire to become an overseer like Timothy, they should be encouraged to do so.

We keep hearing stories about power struggles, jealousy and competition between people called by God to minister to others. They expend all their energy elbowing eachother out of the way and protecting their morsels of ecclesial or relational power.

Brothers and sisters, this ought not be so.

If a person desires to minister and mentor others to minister, they desire a good thing. The office of a pastor is not some hierarchical achievement, it is the result of a humbling call to a life of service.



  1. Nice post Corey. I especially liked your last sentence about the call to a life of humble service. Well said.

  2. Yes, you have noted the call to servant leadership. But where can it be found? Not in our traditional assemblies. I’ve tried to develop this idea here:

    We only have a little time left to come out of Babylon

    May God Guide and Protect Us

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