Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to provide some leadership to the churches in that area. And this letter included both personal admonitions as well as directions for leading these churches. This verse is in the midst of a passage that dealt with elders, the leaders of the local churches. The overall passage deals with providing for their physical needs (vv. 17-18), how to respond to accusations against them (vv. 19-20), and the selection of elders (vv. 22-25).
Various traditions within the Church today have different ways of selecting church leadership. But what Paul has to say here is applicable to all of us. He tells us not to be hasty in the process. He has earlier told us to be sure that our leaders are of good moral character (1 Tim. 3:2-3), and that they hold firmly to the truths of the faith (1 Tim. 3:9). And that we should examine them before putting them into positions of leadership (1 Tim. 3:10). These instructions were given specifically for pastors and deacons, but that constituted the entirety of the church’s leadership at the time. So it is not really inappropriate for us to extend these qualifications to the different areas of leadership we have today.
The Importance of Character in Leadership
The character of our leadership is important. We are going to have a tendency to adopt the character of those who lead us. So we should make every effort to ensure that we have leaders who are worthy of the title. And, while this is especially true within the church, it is also true of our political leadership. We should seek to develop leadership of great character rather than people who tickle our ears.