1 Timothy 4:12b
12b But be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
Though Timothy was a young man, he had been given a very responsible task of being a minister of God’s Word. His close association with the apostle Paul and the other early church leaders as a devout disciple, had equipped him for the solemn tasks required of a minister of God’s Word in Ephesus. His appointment was not haphazardly carried out. Even after his appointment, the apostle Paul paid attention to encourage him to rise above his fears and struggles to be an excellent minister of Jesus Christ.
Timothy was here challenged to be an “example” to God’s people. Paul used the Greek word tupos, which means “model” or “pattern”. Artists often use a model so that its features may be reproduced in his work. A tailor will usually lay a pattern on top of the material and cut the material to match the pattern. Likewise, a Christian leader ought to be an example for the people of God to follow. His life should demonstrate how one should live a life that pleases the Lord.
Paul then exhorted Timothy to be exemplary in six areas of spiritual life which are pertinent to Christian leadership. Firstly, “in word”. A Christian leader’s speech must be exemplary. His words and attitude in speech must be worthy of emulation. Secondly, “in conversation”. A Christian leader’s conduct must be exemplary; it must be built upon biblical principles. He must be a model of biblical living. There must be a sincere concern for personal and pervasive holiness in all aspects of the leader’s life. Thirdly, “in love”. A Christian leader ought to love others. It does not mean he must tolerate everything without discernment. Love is best expressed through serving others according to God’s truth and holiness. Fourthly, “in spirit”. A Christian leader must exhibit the control, leading and filling of the Holy Spirit. Every servant of God must seek “to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). Fifthly, “in faith”. The Greek word used here can also mean “faithfulness”. His faith in the perfection, authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures is inviolable. His message and life must show his absolute confidence and loyalty to God’s Word. Sixthly, “in purity”. The Greek word used here (hagneía) refers not only to sexual chastity, but also the intents of heart. When one’s heart is pure, one’s behaviour will also be pure. A Christian leader should never adopt a lifestyle that his people should not practise.