1 Timothy 4:16a
16a Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them.
Another of Paul’s admonition to Timothy, a young Christian leader and a pastor, was: “Take heed unto thyself”. It will be disastrous to have a man who tells people what to do but who never does the same on his own. Scripture must be carefully studied and applied in the pastor’s life before it is preached to others. A pastor should have this basic integrity to pay close attention to his life according to what he learns and preaches. Any man who falls short of this aspect is a hypocrite. The biblical integrity of a pastor requires both biblical knowledge and biblical character. The focal point of every pastoral ministry is biblical living and godliness.
This exhortation entails every Christian leader to be stringent in his self-examination to correct his shortcomings and make improvements in himself. There must be a passion for self-improvement. This counsel must be applied in matters of personal piety, manners, habits, appearance, speech, interactions with others, his skills, etc. Every Christian leader should be careful to avoid uncouth manners and offensive speech and behaviour. The influence of the Gospel that he preaches should be apparent in all aspects of his life. The Gospel refines those who have received it; it makes them refined in their appearance, habits and conduct. No boorish manner or habit that gives offence to others should be found in Christian leaders.
He also needs to take heed unto “the doctrine” that he preaches. He must pay attention to his teaching to ensure that it is thoroughly Scriptural. He should hold and teach only the truths of God’s Word. He must, as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In 2 Timothy 3:13-14, Paul further cautioned, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.”
We are also exhorted to “continue in them”. A Christian leader must be a man who would persevere in purity of life and doctrine. He cannot be a quitter. He should overcome temptations, endure all kinds of trials, opposition and persecution, and remain faithful to God and His Word, yea, even unto death.