Character in Leadership is Essential to Gospel Influence.

In 1 Timothy 3, Paul writes Timothy about the qualifications for leadership in the church. His comments raise two questions: Do you aspire to be a leader? Do you qualify? This particular section is addressed to men, but all people in the church should aspire to have character that mirrors their leaders.



The Greek word translated "aspire" in 1 Timothy 3:1 describes the drive to prepare for a position of leadership. It's a physical word for lunging or reaching out for a goal. The same word is used in 1 Timothy 6:10 in a negative sense and in Hebrews 11:16 in a positive sense. Aspiration is an external willingness to do whatever it takes to prepare for the office of pastor-teacher.


Desire is the inward longing to do the work for which God has gifted you. It is used elsewhere in the ungodly context of lust. God's gifting comes with a strong desire that will not be satisfied unless you are using that gift.

Why Use Two Words?

Why would the Spirit inspire Paul to write both these Greek words? Some who say they want to be pastors or preachers only want the status. Some have one part of the gifting, either caring for people or the ability to teach. Some are just following what others tell them to do without discerning if God has actually called them. Someone who has been truly gifted with the pastor-teacher gift will demonstrate both the desire and the willingness to prepare.

"A Fine Work"

The work of a pastor-teacher is a good quality work. There is no higher job for him who is called, and there is also no harder work. Knowing and loving God's people and studying God's Word to preach it to them is a constantly consuming task.

That being said, there is no spiritual gift that is more special than the others. The best place for you to be serving is wherever God has gifted you. You will be miserable if you try to do otherwise!

A Warning

Hebrews 13:17 and James 3:1 give a warning that helps temper and channel the desire to be a pastor. Leaders in the church are held to a higher standard by God Himself. Both fear and excitement are proper responses when taking on the task of shepherding and preaching.

Application Points

  • Are you using your spiritual gift? Do you know what it is? You will be most content when you are serving where God has gifted you, and will be miserable otherwise.
  • Men, do you think you might have the pastor-teacher gift? Pray that God would reveal your spiritual gifting. Search your own heart to see whether you have both the desire and aspiration to shepherd and teach God's people.
  • Pray that God would raise up men in our church and across the nation who would realize God has gifted them to shepherd His people.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 5:12-14 – The hard work of a pastor-teacher.
  • 1 Peter 4:10-11 – Each believer must serve with their spiritual gift.
  • 2 Corinthians 5 – The judgement for believers.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Search Me, O God"

Search me, O God, and know my heart today,
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.

I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin;
Fulfill Thy word and make me pure within;
Fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame;
Grant my desire to magnify Thy name.

Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine;
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine;
Take all my will, my passion, self and pride;
I now surrender, Lord, in me abide.