But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. (1 Timothy 5:8)
If I was a church leader and was considering having you on a leadership team I'd want to ask you a few questions first and one of them would be this: "How do you get on with your family?"
Now I know that family dynamics are not always easy and at times there can be tension that's not entirely the fault of the prospective leader, but I'd still want to question you and probe deeper.
At the heart of my questions to you would be an interest in knowing it you respected your parents even if they frustrated you at times. I'd want to know if genuine love existed towards your family even if you occasionally clashed. I'd want evidence that you were grateful for the sacrifices your parents made and continue to make for you. I'd also want reassurance that you honoured them and obeyed the rules of the home if you were still living with them.
Why all the questions about your family life? What does it have to do with being a leader at church?
In these verses we've been looking at, Paul is setting down instructions for the care of widows in the church. Remember, there was no social welfare system so the church would care for widows but only if their family was unable or unwilling to do so.
Paul states forcefully that anyone who won’t care for their relatives are "worse than unbelievers." Our treatment of family is that important to Paul!
Imagine taking on the responsibility of caring for a young person in a church programme while at the same time mistreating a younger sibling. That would be alarming to say the least. Or pledging to honour church leaders while at the same time being disrespectful towards one's parents. Incomprehensible.
The thing about family is that they get to see us as we really are. It's easy to put on a "Christian veneer" when we're at church for a relatively brief time each week. We can appear to have the fruit of love, joy peace patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control, but only our family really knows the extent to which the Spirit is active in our lives and shaping our character.
Would I feel embarrassed in my youth leader was able to observe my interaction with family members throughout the week? Would they see, honour, respect and love on my part? Or criticism, disobedience and selfishness? What changes need to take place?