Posted by: watchman | August 18, 2009

First Timothy 3: Concensus Builder

not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome,

– I Timothy 3:3

The next characteristic that Paul shares with Timothy is that a leader should be able to lead without a quarrelsome attitude. The Contemporary English Version says “They must not be heavy drinkers or troublemakers. Instead, they must be kind and gentle”.

I’ve covered the drinking element, I think, so we’ll skip to the troublemaking. Paul says here that a leader should not be given to violence (literally). You may think that this would be obvious, that a Jesus shaped movement would not be led by violent people. I’d agree – that should be painfully obvious. But, it is apparently not.

Yikes.

I think many of us can point to stories of quarrelsome people in church ruining things. I once helped plant a church in a town where our denomination once had a church, but had to be shut down after the pastor got into a fistfight with a deacon. At my previous church, a deacon and a youth pastor almost came to blows over a very small issue. I tried to stay on the other end of any room while that particular deacon was present!

The fact of the matter is, we resort to contentiousness and violence far easier than we look to build consensus and make peace. A skilled, qualified leader will be a peacemaker and a person who brings good people together toward the vision God has put forth.

I must admit, this is an area where I have struggled in ministry. I have been more prone to run roughshod over a person’s perspective than to listen and build consensus. People in the Church want to be heard and their input valued (especially in the US). So, instead of a belligerent bully, a leader must be a gentle consensus builder, with exceptional relational skills.

Of course, there is probably no worse example of church violence than church sports leagues:

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