Leadership matters! It matters in the home. It matters in the workplace. It matters on athletic teams and in musical groups. And, of course, leadership matters in the church.
Leadership is such an important issue that there is no end to the writing, selling, and buying of leadership books. In fact, we can even say that this blog is about leadership – helping pastors grow in their leadership of the church. But how should we assess leaders – both present leaders and future leaders? Unfortunately, we (and our churches) assess leaders based on competency and results. Can he “preach”? Is the church “growing”?
Now, before we get into what I’m about to say on leadership, let me offer a disclaimer: I am NO leadership expert (whatever that may be?). However, I have made lots of mistakes from which the Lord has taught me much. Regardless, my thoughts on leadership are not dependent on having enrolled in “the school of pastoral hard knocks.” Instead, my thoughts are dependent on what Scripture itself says about church leadership. And according to Scripture, there are more important qualities to assess in leaders than “competency” and “results.” Allow me to offer, then, some biblical thoughts on leadership assessment and development.
As we assess and evaluate leaders in the church (both present and potential leaders), consider these four C’s of biblical leadership:
Whereas we tend to elevate competency as the highest qualification for leadership, the Bible highlights character: men of godly character, as outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-14; Titus 1:5-16. The basis character quality of a godly man is above reproach. To be above reproach means that when (not if) accusations come against an pastor, they do not stick because he is not characterized by what he is being accused of. Paul shares four areas in which an elder must be above reproach:
- Above reproach in his character: the pastor, though not expected to be perfect, must be a man who pursues holiness and is characterized by fighting sin: “sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, . . . not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money (1 Tim. 3:2-3).
- Above reproach in his family life: the pastor must be a man who has first displayed maturity in shepherding his own household well. He must be faithful to his wife, not neglecting her but loving her and caring for her; he must be faithful in his parenting, disciplining his children. If someone cannot manage his own house, how will he be able to manage God’s house (1 Tim. 3:4-5)?
- Above reproach in his public life: the pastor must also be well thought of by outsiders (1 Tim. 3:7). How will a pastor lead if he does not have a good reputation?
A pastor must also be a man of biblical convictions and above reproach in his doctrinal life. He must be a mature and maturing believer (not a new convert). “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).
The word “pastor” indicates feeding, protecting, caring for a flock. Pastors or elders, then, are called to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you” with love and compassion, leading by example (1 Peter 5:1-4). Some evidences that men care for the flock are – they are with the flock when we gather on the Lord’s Day (am/pm); they are with the church when it publicly cares for one another in members’ meetings; they care by displaying deeds of love for other members (prayer for members, visitation of the sick or shut in, practicing hospitality with other church members; they care for other brothers by engaging in discipling relationships; and they care for unbelievers by sharing the gospel regularly.
While Scripture emphasizes character over competency, the pastor must be a man who is “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). He must be able to, not only teach God’s people God’s word, he must also be able to refute opponents of the gospel with kindness and patience so that the Lord may grant even these gospel enemies repentance (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
These four C’s observed over time (1 Timothy 5:22) produce credibility. At High Pointe, we utilize the following leadership formula when observing men for the office of pastor (elder):
C (character) + C (conviction) + C (care) + C (competency) = Credibility
Again, I am no leadership expert, but Scripture is clear—we should consider men for office who are above reproach and who love the church enough to care and protect the flock, feeding it with God’s word. As pastors, let’s strive to be such men, and let’s look to raise up such men in our churches. As we focus on faithfulness as leaders, we are freed to trust the Lord for whatever results he sees fit to bless us with.