“not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).
While the qualities of youth and inexperience do not necessarily preclude one from pursuing a ministry opportunity, we should not overlook the importance of character, maturity, and preparation. One commentary speaks with the voice of experience in this regard…
“New believers should become secure and strong in the faith before taking leadership roles in the church. Too often, in a church desperate for workers, new believers are placed in positions of responsibility prematurely. New faith needs time to mature. New believers should have a place of service, but they should not be put into leadership positions until they are firmly grounded in their faith, with a solid Christian lifestyle and a knowledge of the Word of God.” (1)
This brings us face to face with a challenging reality. You see, the pressures that accompany a congregational leadership position will inevitably highlight any weaknesses, vulnerabilities, or character flaws that may exist within a man. This is especially true of someone who is new to faith in Christ, for those who are newly converted to Christ may not have experience with the trials and adversities that God uses to build and shape our character.
One such area of potential vulnerability involves “…the condemnation incurred by the devil” (NASB). For instance, the authority and influence that comes with a leadership position can easily foster an attitude of pride. While “pride” is sometimes associated with the legitimate feeling of satisfaction that accompanies a job well done, the destructive form of pride referenced here conveys an attitude of insolence, haughtiness, and conceit.
This was the mindset that ultimately led to Satan’s downfall…
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High'” (Isaiah 14:12-14).
A man who possesses the experience necessary to recognize this negative attribute is someone who is best equipped to prayerfully overcome it. As another commentary explains…
“Condemnation of the devil does not mean the judgment which Satan brings on a man, but rather the judgment which fell on Satan himself because of his pride. He sought a high position for which he was not qualified, and as a result, he was brought low.” (2)
(1) Life Application Study Bible NKJV [1 Timothy 3:6] Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc., all rights reserved.
(2) William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, (3:6) pg.2152