Category Archives: Church Leadership


Keep watch over yourselves,

Keep watch over the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians;

To feed the Church of the Lord which he won for himself by his own blood.

Savage wolves will come in among you, therefore be alert.

                                                                                 Acts 20:28-31


There are three primary divisions of the elder’s (ruling and teaching elder)

responsibilities and duties. Listed in order of priority, they first to God, secondly

to himself, and finally toward others. All too often members in a church reverse

the order, only to the detriment of their personal and corporate well-being in Christ.


A. The elder is responsible to serve the Lord first

  1. The elder must exercise a saving faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord

(1 Thess. 1:9; Heb. 9:11-14).

2.   The elder’s first priority is to serve the Lord first and foremost, before he

serves people. (Acts 20:19; Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4; Eph. 6:6-7;

Col. 3:22-24). He serves God’s people by serving and answering to

the Lord first and doing so for the glory of God (Deut. 10:12; Josh.

24:14, 15; 1 Cor. 10:31; 15:58; Eph. 6:7; Heb. 12:28; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).

a. This was clearly the pattern of God’s true prophets, priests and kings

(1 Chron. 28:9; 2 Chron. 12:8; 34:33).

b.  This was also the pattern of Jesus Christ who always did His

Father’s will  (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8; John 8:26-28).

c.  This was the pattern of the Apostles

(Acts 4:5-21; 27:23; 1 Cor. 15:58; Col. 3:23; 1 Thess. 1:9; 2 Tim.

1:3; Heb. 12:28).

3.   He is to live for Christ

a. Never to be ashamed of Jesus Christ (2 Tim 1:8-11; 2:11-13)

b. His focus is to always be upon Christ (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21;

2 Tim 2:8-13)

c.  He will suffer for Christ (Lk. 21:19; 2 Tim. 2:3-7; 3:10-12).


B. The elder is responsible to keep his life right in relationship to the Lord

1.  All believers are called upon to keep their lives right before God

(Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 4:16;   Gal. 5:17-25; Eph. 4:23-24; Col. 3:10;

Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Thess. 4:1-12; 2 Tim. 2:19-21; 2 Pet. 3:1-11).

They are to be faithful stewards of Christ and are accountable to Him

through a biblically balanced life (1 Cor. 4:1-2; 9:17; Col. 1:25f).

2.   This is all the more true for pastors, elders, and deacons too.  The

admonition to Timothy is applicable to those who take on the yoke

of ministry, that the elder must guard and maintain his life, piety and

gifts (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 4:14-16; 2 Tim. 2:19-21) so that he might

have the proper capacity to serve others through Christ

(2 Tim. 2:1, 6, 15; 3:16-17). And he should practice and devote himself

to godliness in Christ so that others will see progress in his walk

(1 Tim. 4:15). This is what Thomas Murphy means when he says that

“The conversion of souls and the prosperity of the Church depend on

the degree of the pastor’s piety” (Murphy, 1877/1996, p. 47).

The purpose of taking care of his life in Christ is not for self-

actualization or other self-serving goals but rather so that he may

be of greater service to others. While this might seem odd, a

properly oriented life that is saturated with God through Christ

is a far better blessing to others. This is because the greater, more

expansive capacity one has for God the greater his capacity for a

fruitful ministry.

Jesus is a model of one who, though sinless, maintained and

nurtured his relationship with the Father, to understand God’s will

and to be strengthened from on high in order to accomplish all that

God set for him to do. He always made it a priority to spend time

with the Father before serving others.

3.  The elder is called to train and discipline himself for godliness (1 Tim.

4:7-11) so as to become more and more like Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18;

1 Tim. 4:14-16; 6:11; Ti. 2:12; 2 Pet. 1:4). After all, the elder is to

“incarnate” and model the life of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 12:18; 1 Thess.

2:10-12; 1 Tim. 4:12; 1 Pet. 5:3); and this is very profitable (1 Tim. 6:6).

At minimum this would include the nurture and improvement of the

godly character required of him according to 1 Timothy 3:1-9 and

Titus 1:5-9;  but he should also cultivate and strengthen other qualities

God desires of him as Christ’s under-shepherd such as, but not limited to:

a. Humility (Acts 20:19; 1 Cor. 10:12).

b. Being free of or fleeing the love of money (1 Tim. 3:3; 6:7-11).

c. Being a vessel of honor that is set apart from sin (2 Tim. 2:20-21)

(1) Actively pursuing biblical righteousness, godliness, faith, love,

perseverance, and gentleness (1 Tim. 6:11).

(2) Fleeing youthful lusts, pursuing righteousness, faith, love

(2 Tim 2:22).

d. Fearing no one or nothing except God (Deut. 10:12; Eccles. 12:13;

Psa. 118:6; Isa. 12:2; 2 Tim. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:17; 2:17).

e.  Being sober-minded about everything (2 Tim. 4:5).

f.  Maintaining a clear conscience before the Lord  (2 Cor 11:31).

4.   He is to put to use the good gift(s) God has placed upon him.  In fact,

he is called upon to fan the flame or rekindle the gift(s) of God in his life

(1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6).

5.  The elder is to saturate his life with and properly handle God’s Word

(1 Tim. 5:17; 2 Tim. 3:14-16).

a.   Always growing in grace and truth (2 Pet. 3:18).

b.   Holding fast to and be nourished on the Word of God

(1 Tim 4:6; 2 Tim. 1:13; 3:14-17; Ti. 1:9).

c.  Rightly handling God’s Word so as to be approved (2 Tim. 2:15).

d.  Contending for the truth of God’s Word (1 Tim. 1:18-19).

e.  Guarding the truth (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:12-14).

6.  He should bear fruit (Jn. 15:8; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 2:8-10; Col. 1:10;

Ti. 2:7; 3:8, 14)

7.  He is to take care of his physical life (1 Tim 5:23).

8.  He should not be concerned about the judgments of others (1 Cor. 4:1-5),

neither should he compare himself with others (1 Cor. 3; 2 Cor.

10:12-16). At the same time he should defend a biblical and righteous

ministry in the cause of Christ against false accusations

(1 Cor. 1:6-23; 2:4, 17; 3:6, 12; 4:1-8; 5:14, 21; 1 Tim. 4:12)

9.  He must keep his family life in order (1 Tim. 3:4-5; Ti. 1:6)

10. Finally, he and others must understand that his life and ministry is

a living sacrifice to God (Phil. 2:17; 2 Tim. 4:6; 2 Sam. 24:24;

Acts 20:24; 21:13; Phil. 3:7-8).


C. After serving God and attending to his life in Christ

the pastor or elder then serves others, particularly

God’s people

1.  The pastor or elder serves through self-sacrifice (Jn. 10:11, 15; cp.

Lk 10:34,35) as a faithful steward of God’s ministry (1 Cor. 4:1-2;

Ti. 1:7), in a manner like Jesus Christ (Matt. 20:25-28; 23:11-12;

Mark 10:43,44; Luke 22:26-27; John 13:1-20).

2.  He prays for others (Acts 6:4; Col. 1:9)

a.  His priority is to pray, especially for God’s people (Acts 6:4; Col. 1:9)

b. He prays for those who are not believers in Christ (1 Tim. 2:1-8)

3.  As an undershepherd to the Great Shepherd he pastors through God’s

Word (Jn. 21:15ff; 1 Pet. 5:1ff); ministering the Word of God (Mk. 6:34b;

Rev. 7:17; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12; Col. 1:28; Jas. 3:1) in a variety of

ways. In fact, the bulk and thrust of his labors is in the power of God’s

Spirit through the Word of God.

a. Publicly reading, preaching, explaining and applying Scriptures

is what the teaching elder does (1 Cor. 1:17; 1 Tim. 4:13-14)

b.  The teaching elder preaches in season and out of season reproving,

rebuking and exhorting (2 Tim. 4:1-2).

c.  The elder teaches boldly the Word of God (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 6:34;

Acts 20:20; 1 Cor. 12:28, 31; Col. 1:28; 1 Tim. 1:3; 3:2, 16; 4:11-12;

6:2-5; James 3:1 Rev. 7:17) in  these and other areas:

(1) Teaching apostolic truth, particularly to faithful men who

would teach others the same (2 Tim. 2:2)

(2) Teaching godliness in Christ (1 Tim. 5:24-6:6)

(3) Teaching older men to be sober, reverent, self-controlled,

sound in faith, sound in love, and patient (Ti. 2:1-2)

(4) Teaching the rich to be rich in good works and generosity

(1 Tim. 6:17-19)

d. He feeds God’s people in the Truth (1 Pet. 5:2).

e. Edifies or builds believers up in Christ (2 Cor. 13:10-11; Eph 4:12-16).

f.  Convicts the contrary (2 Tim. 2:25; Ti. 1:9).

g. Brings comfort to hearers of the Word (1 Cor. 14:3, 31; 2 Cor. 1:4-6;

1 Thess. 4:18).

h. Confronts Sin (1Tim 5:1-2; Gal. 6:1)

(1) Warning of the consequences of sin (Acts 20:31).

(2) Rebuking sin (2 Tim. 4:1-2; Ti 1:13; 2:15).

i. Admonishes wayward believers to obey God’s Word (2 Thess. 3:15).

j. Exhorts or confronts the opposition with sound doctrine in love

(1 Cor. 13:1; Eph. 4:15; 2 Tim. 2:24-26).

4.   To train them in spiritual warfare, resisting Satan and calling them to

their role as  godly warriors (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Eph. 6:10-18; Jas. 4:7;

1 Pet. 5:8-9).

5.  The teaching elder (even the ruling elder) delegates administrative tasks

of lesser priorities for his vocation to others, such as the deacons, in

order to concentrate on the ministries of prayer and the Word of God

(Act 6:1-7).

6.  The teaching elder’s godly office created by Christ (2 Cor. 3:9; 4:6).  He

is  responsible with other elders in the church to perpetuate the office

with sound, godly and faithful men who are gifted, called, and qualified

(1 Tim. 1:11; 3:1-7; 4:14). The office must be perpetuated through the

laying on of hands by ordained elders of the church (Acts 6:6; 13:3;

14:23; 19:6; 1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:6).

7.   He must always keep before him the goal(s) of his God-ordained


a.  To equip the saints to do the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11-12) in

the faithful exercise of their gifts (1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12).

b.  To form Jesus Christ in the community of God’s people through

love (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; 4:13; Col 1:224-29; 1 Thess. 3:11-13;

1 Tim. 1:5) until that community is a like one mature man who


(1) In the unity of the Faith (Eph. 4:13)

(2) In an intimate full-knowledge of the Son of God, deeply in

love with Christ and becoming more like him in every way

(Eph. 4:13)

(3) In truth that is spoken and expressed through love (Eph. 4:15).


D. The pastor’s or elder’s duties are enumerated through

the many roles he has:

 1. As a self-sacrificing servant (Matt. 20:27; John 10:11, 15; Lk. 10:34, 35;

1 Cor. 4:1)

a. Of God (2 Cor. 6:4; Ti. 1:1, 7) and of Christ (Phil. 1:1; 2 Tim. 2:24)

b. Of God’s people (2 Cor. 4:5)

c.  Who serves God and his church with diligence (Rom. 12:8; 1 Thess.

5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17; 2 Tim. 2:15).

2.  As a loving shepherd of the flock of God (Jer. 3:15; John 21:15ff;

Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-2)

a. Who leads (Mark 6:34) and guides (Matt. 2:6; Acts 7:10, 14;

Heb. 3:7, 17, 24)

b.  Who protects (Acts 20:28-30; Jn. 10:12; Ti. 1:9; 2:1;

Eph. 4:14; 1 Pet. 5:8; 1 Jn. 4:1-3)

(1)  From enemies within (2 Tim. 2:16-18; Jude 12f).

(2)  From enemies without (Mt. 13:24f; 2 Cor. 11:12-15).

3.   As a priest, though a believer-priest like all other believers he

a.  Intercedes and prays for God’s people  (e.g.: 1 Sam. 12:23; Acts

12:5-9, 12;  Rom. 10:1; Eph. 1:18; Col. 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:1, 2; Jas. 5:16)

b. Serves as a leader in worship.

4.   As a peacemaker or reconciler (Matt. 5:9; 2 Cor. 5:18-19).

5.   As a preacher of the gracious Good News of Christ (Rom. 10:14;

2 Pet. 2:5).

6.   As a professor-teacher (see above)

7.   As a parent

a.  Like a father (Matt. 13:52; 1 Cor. 4:12-21; 1 Thess. 2:10-12;

1 Tim. 3:5; Philem. 10).

(1) Who sees to it with fellow elders and the deacons that widows

in need are taken care of (Acts 6:1ff; 1 Tim. 3:5-16;

James 1:27)

(2) Who also oversees with elders and deacons the needs of

orphans (James 1:27).

(3)  Who, with the elders through the service of the deacons, takes

care of the needy in the church (Luke 14:13; Acts 2:45; 4:35;

Rom. 15:26; Gal. 2:10; Eph. 4:28; James 2:2-6)

b.  And like a mother who gives birth (Isa. 66:7; 1 Thess. 5:3) and who

nurses (1 Thess. 2:7)

c. A nurturer and disciplinarian (Matt. 18; 2 Cor. 7:8-13)

8.  As a model of godliness   (Psa. 101:2; 1 Cor. 4:6; 11:1; Phil. 3:17;

1 Thess. 1:6; 2:10-11; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9; 1 Tim. 4:12; Ti. 2:7;

Heb. 12:2; 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:11-25; 5:3; 1 Jn. 2:6; etc.).

9.  As a ruler with fellow elders over Christ’s church (1 Thess. 5:12, 13;

1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17), he is responsible for:

a. Overseeing the church of Christ (1 Tim. 3:4, 5, 12; Rom. 12:8)

b.  Exercising judicial discipline (Matt. 18:15-19; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5;

1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 5:20; 6:3; Ti. 1:13; 2:15; 3:10;

Rev. 2:2, 14, 15, 20)

c.   Ruling with Christ’s authority, but not lording it over God’s people

(Matt. 20:25-26; Mk. 10:42-43; 1 Pet. 5:3).

10. As an evangelist and disciple “maker” (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 20:21; 21:8;

1 Tim. 5:22; 2 Tim. 4:5; Ti. 1:5)

a. By faithful testimony of Christ in life and lip (Acts 20:21;

1 Thess. 2:2)

b. By giving, declaring, and teaching the Good News of Jesus Christ

 (Rom. 3:21-28; 11:6; Gal. 3:1-9; 1 Pet. 4)

11. The elder is also described in roles as a messenger (2 Cor. 8:23),

a good worker (2 Cor. 6:1; Phil. 2:25), a soldier (Phil. 2:25;

2 Tim. 2:3-4), an athlete (1 Cor. 9:24-25; Phil. 3:14; 2 Tim. 2:5; 4:7-8;

Heb. 12:1) and a farmer (2 Tim. 2:6).


(Taken from The Perfect Pastor? by D. Thomas Owsley)


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Filed under Church Leadership, Elders, Pastoring

The Required Character of a Church Leader

(Especially for Deacons, Elders and Pastors)

There were certain qualifications given to the godly leader in the Old Testament. He had to possess the credentials of godly character (Ex. 18:21;Deut. 1:13). He had to have a spiritual disposition and enablement from the Lord, and he had to possess an authorized call or election to the office.

In the New Testament, God requires His offices be filled by male believer-priests who manifest the right equipment (Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:11, 28; Eph. 4:11f), the right motivation (Phil 2:13; 1 Tim. 3:1) and the right qualities (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Ti. 1:5-9).

Right Equipment
That is, they have the right gifts for the job. God endows these men with certain gifts and gives the men to His church (Mk. 16:15-18; Lk. 21:15; 24:49; Acts 1:8; 1 Tim. 5:22; 3:1-7; Ti. 1:7). He must be gifted and able to exhort (1 Thess. 2:11,12), lead (1 Cor. 12:28; 1 Thess. 5:12, 13; 1 Tim. 3:5; 5:17), serve (Acts 20:24f; Rom.15:26-33), share his resources with others (Acts 4; Eph. 4:28),  and show mercy (Matt. 25; 1 Cor. 12:28).

Right Motivation
What we mean is that he has the inward call from God. He is responsive to the gifting and the call of the Holy Spirit in his life (Acts 20:28), and hence he desires (1 Tim. 3:1) the office. His motives are biblical and Christ-like (1 Peter 5:1ff).

Not only does one have the inward call of God, but  the community of  God must recognize his call as a qualified and legitimate call (Acts 6). He cannot merely assume that because he may be gifted and has that inner motive that he can assume the office of elder. He must also be properly called of God through the means of God’s church (Jer. 23:32; Rom. 10:15; Heb. 5:4).

Right Qualities or Character of a Godly Leader
As Kevin Reed points out, “these qualities focus upon the three important aspects of a man’s life: his moral behavior, his knowledge of Christian doctrine, and his family life. An elder continually will be in public view. The respect an officer receives often depends more on an example of good character than from anything else about him” (Biblical Church Government, p. 9). All godly men should have these qualities, but the man who is selected for the office of elder must be measured by these qualities
to see if he is ready for the office (1 Tim. 5:22; 2 Tim. 2:2; Ti, 2:7,8).

Some essential characteristics of a good, natural leader:
1.    Courage
2.    Decisive
3.    Discipline
4.    Executive ability
5.    Friendship
6.    Humility
7.    Humor
8.    Inspirational ability
9.    Patience
10.    Righteous anger
11.    Vision
12.    Wisdom

The Biblical Character of a Godly Leader

(As you advance through this list of character traits, rate yourself on a scale of 1-10:
1 meaning this character trait is lacking, almost difficult to notice in your life; while 10 would mean that you are very, very strong and are a good example of this quality. How would your spouse, child(ren) or close friend rate you? How would your work mate rate you?)

1.  Above reproach        (1 Tim. 3:2;  Titus 1:6)
Not to be laid hold of; nothing is open to rebuke.
Here is the reference to the general character or sum total of those godly virtues. It means you are not open to censure, having an impeachable integrity; in accord with Biblical requirement for leadership.

Score:    __________        __________        __________

2.  Restrained Control    (1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Thess. 5:6,8)
You are temperate. There is a sobriety of life, free from excesses; not inebriated with the issues of life. It has the idea of being self-controlled through the work of the Spirit of God (Gal. 5; Phil. 2:13)  and by godly wisdom.  It does not carry with it the idea of a strictly disciplined person, but rather one who is disciplined and
properly flexible in the use and application of all things for the glory of God.

a.   Restrained control in that you are gentle
(2 Sam. 22:36; Psalm 18:35; 1 Timothy 3:2,3)

The idea of gentleness, a very important quality in a godly leader, is that of being patient, mild, reasonable, full of grace and graciousness.  This comes to light in not defending or insisting on one’s own ways. Gentleness sees people as sensitive beings; it deals with people where they are. The gentle man shows carefulness in choosing words and expressions so as not to offend unneedfully (Gal. 6:1).  He reflects care, affection and good-will toward others (Eph. 4:2).

He is not abrupt or critical in his communications. It is a quality the godly leader is to pursue (1 Tim. 6:11).  In short, he exercises the fruit of God’s Spirit (Gal. 5:23; Phil. 4:5).

Here are some characteristic ways one is biblically gentle:

(1)  A true gentle man
•    approachable (his personality has no sharp edges; after all, you cannot hug a porcupine)
•    firm, but diplomatic even when correcting opponents (Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim.
•    kind and gracious like Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:29; Acts 24:4; 2 Cor. 10:1; 1 Thess. 2:7)
•    his wisdom is a biblical wisdom exercised in gentleness (James 3:17)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

(2) Gentle in that you are not pugnacious   (1 Tim. 3:3; Ti. 1:7 )
Not a striker; not prone to violence; not given to blows; not a fighter.
You are not one who is harsh with words. You don’t lash out when hurt or
incite arguments, or alienate people by your attacking manner. Not eager to
make his point or get his way. You don’t follow through with your hot temper.
(Prov. 3:30; 15:18; 17:14; 20:3; 25:8; 26:17; Phil. 2:3)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

(3) Gentle in that you are not quarrelsome     (1 Tim. 3:2, 3; 2 Tim. 2:14)
Adverse to verbal fighting, quarreling, arguing. Knows what, when, and
how to argue rightly. No tendency to delight in outdoing others and defeating their ideas and beliefs; thus, no harsh dogmatism or a strongly offensive approach toward people. Not a contentious disputer.
(1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:22-26; Ti. 3:9)

On the positive side, you have a sense of peace, tranquility, and calmness.
You are a peacemaker; one who is able to bring calm to a stormy situation.
(Eccl. 10:4; Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:18; 14:19; Heb. 12:14; Jas. 3:17)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

b.  Restrained control in that you are not greedy    (1 Tim. 3:3; Ti. 1:7)
The acquisition of money or things (that which sustains or makes up life) is not seen as a high priority in your life. Your life is characterized by simplicity and humility in attitude and economic style. Heavenly priorities dominate (Matt. 6:33).

You possessions should not reflect comfort-seeking in things or in undue
accumulation of things unneedful. You have a firm conviction in resisting
dishonest and shady methods for acquiring money or things. Free from the love of money.

One of the deadly sins of a godly leader:
1 Tim. 6:5-10; Acts 20:33; 2 Tim. 3:6-7

Score:    __________        __________        __________

c.   Restrained control in that you are not given to selfish anger     (Ti. 1:7) You are not prone to anger; not overly passionate. No  trigger temper or character that is generally irritable. Not too easily offended, thus unapproachable and unpredictable in temper. (Pro. 16:32)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

d.   Restrained control in that you are not given to much wine  (1 Tim. 3:3; Ti. 1:7) You do not linger over wine. You are not over-indulgent or a drunk.  You control the wine, it does not control you.  The principle is one of control over bodily appetites.
(Gen. 19; Prov. 20:1; 23; Eccles. 10:17; Isa. 5:11; Isa. 28:1; Luke 21:34;
Rom. 13:13; Eph. 5:18)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

e.  Overall character is that you are self-controlled     (Ti. 1:8)
You have a mastery over self. Your passions and appetites are controlled.
You are not lazy, gluttonous or given to filthy talk (Eph. 5:4). You have an
ordered life, one reflecting heavenly pursuits and priorities. (Acts 24:25;
Rom. 6:12; Jas. 3:2; 2 Pet. 1:5-7; Matt. 26:41; 1 Cor. 10:12; 1 Pet. 5:8)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

3.  Humble ( you are not self-willed)    (Luke 14:10; Phil 2:3; Ti. 1:7; Jas. 4:10; 1 Pet. 5:5) This means that you are not seeking to please yourself. You are not willful, obstinate, domineering, arrogant.  You do not stand hard on “everything” you believe, and do not insist on your own way, ideas, or beliefs. You have a genuine interest in others and in what they say.  Being self-willed is also characteristic of one
who delights much in his own appearance, performance, or status to the obvious neglect of others.  Humility is being teachable, thinking rightly about yourself (Rom. 12:3, 10, 16), seeing yourself before the face of God

Score:    __________        __________        __________

4.  Holy    (Ti. 1:8)
Religiously, biblically devout, pious. Consistent in carrying out the basic Gospel duties in private and public affairs of life. Living out the Spirit-filled life of Christ.
(Lev. 11:45; Luke 1:74,75; 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:16; 2 Pet. 3:11)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

5.   Hospitable    (1 Tim. 3:2; 5:10;  Ti. 1:9; 1 Pet. 4:9)
The love of Christ in you exhibits itself by loving your neighbor as yourself. You are kind to others, even strangers; generous.  This love of your heart is expressed in the open door, demonstrating a kind, compassionate, welcoming Savior. The biblical leader is a pacesetter in this. (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:2)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

6.  Just     (Ti. 1:8)
Means upright, righteous.  Impartial in dealing with people. You are able to forget personal interests and seek the truth in situations, in inter-personal conflicts, or as an umpire over differences. You speak what is right; with an ability to hear both sides and weigh the evidence honestly. (Deut. 16:20; Psa. 82:3;  Prov. 21:3; Isa. 56:1; Rom. 13:7; Col. 4:1)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

7.  Lover of good    (Ti. 1:8)
You have a love of virtue, good men and good things. Your affections are
attached toward the Lord, to good things and godly people rather than being
drawn toward worldly pleasures and gratifications.  Your concern is toward
holiness, Spirit-empowered obedience to God’s Word, an anticipation of the
world to come. You have a love of God’s truth rather than such things as position,fame, abilities, possessions, etc., which are soon to pass away. (1 Thess. 5:21; Heb. 3:6; 4:14; 10:23; Rev. 3:3)

Score:    __________        __________        __________

8.  Prudent    (1 Tim. 3:2; Ti. 1:8)
In other words you have a sound and self-controlled mind. You are temperate. Not controlled by impulse but by principle. You are responsible, as opposed to a feeling-oriented life. Your life reflects Biblical priorities, demonstrates sound thinking, and right decision making because you are thinking God’s thoughts about the issues of life.

Score:    __________        __________        __________

9.  Respectable    (1 Tim. 3:2)
Well-ordered, well-arranged, decorous in behavior and speech. The term may refer to 
a. Manners, etiquette, and personal habits;
b. Simplicity of life-style rather than eccentricity or extravagance; or
c. A general reference to a rightly ordered life.

You have  inoffensive and unblameable socially acceptable manners. You are
gentlemanly in your  treatment of women, in your dress, hygiene, eating habits, sociability with various people. You are respectable because you respect others (men, women, young, old). You are unpretentious, modest, with an easy going life-style.

Score:    __________        __________        __________

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Rabble Roused

How can I minister to complainers when I’d rather give them the boot?
by M. Craig Barnes, Leadership editor at large


When the Hebrews left Egypt to begin their difficult journey through the desert to the Promised Land, they brought “the rabble” with them. These were not true believers in this journey or in the God who called them to it. The rabble’s toleration for discomfort was low and their capacity for complaint was high, always an unfortunate combination.

All the pastors I know would love to get rid of the rabble in their church. The dopey thing is that the rabble keep threatening to leave if we don’t service their needs. “If you don’t get a better youth pastor in here, we’ll just go to another church.” Why do they think that’s threatening? “So go,” I want to say. But the rabble never leave.

There is a holy purpose for the rabble. Their complaining places the pastor in the awkward position of standing between the people and the God they cannot see. The grace of that awkwardness is that it forces the pastor to pray, looking for the One who is present but not apparent.

Through most of the wilderness journey, Moses was a model of patient leadership. When the people complained about their thirst, he found water. When they complained about the lack of food, he pointed to manna. When they complained that he was gone too long on Sinai and turned to the idol of a golden calf, Moses interceded and talked God out of consuming them.

Later the people complained about their “misfortunes.” This time God torched a few of them and would have burned up the whole camp if Moses hadn’t interceded again. Immediately afterward the rabble got everyone complaining about how sick and tired they were of manna. They wanted meat!

It was then that Moses finally snapped: “Why have you treated your servant so badly, that you lay the burden of this people on me? Am I their mother? Where am I supposed to find meat for all these people? I am not able to carry this people. If you care about me at all, just kill me and get it over with” (Num. 11:11-15).

It is the repetition of the complaining that tempts the leader to burnout.

Want to know my most vivid memory from the last 23 years of pastoral ministry? Déjà vu.

I’ve had the exact same conversations in three different churches: the youth group eating pizza in the church parlor, no one fills the church van with gas, the struggle to find Sunday school teachers, and the question about special offerings hurting the general budget. Even in pastoral counseling the same conversations just keep happening. After the fiftieth time hearing how mean someone’s parents were, I want to say, “Why are you stuck here? Why am I stuck here?”

When you’re in leadership it is tempting to think your job is to get the people to the Promised Land. But that’s actually God’s job. Your job is to bear their burdens while they’re in the wilderness. We prefer just the opposite. Let God love the people and we’ll just move them along.

But pastors are called to serve as wilderness guides, wandering through the ordinary with their people, loving them enough to point to the manna that keeps them spiritually alive even when it is unappreciated. We have to choose to keep embracing this high calling.

So you have to make choices about which inner voice you’re going to honor, or the rabble of anxiety will overwhelm you.

Here’s the scary part: God will honor your choices. As Moses eventually discovered, if you get fed up with wandering around and keep asking God to get these people to the Promised Land without you, you’ll get your wish. Moses wasn’t with them when they finally crossed the Jordan. And it didn’t make him as happy as he thought it would.

Editor at large Craig Barnes is pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church and professor of leadership and ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Leadership Journal
November 15, 2004


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The Pastor’s Roles (a brief summary)

by Dr. Dominic Aquila


The pastor is responsible to the church for providing spiritual and administrative leadership of the church; and is to use his skills in proclamation and pastoral care to meet the needs of members of the church, and people in the community as opportunities are available.

The pastor, therefore is to:

1. Provide Spiritual Leadership

·         Preach the gospel, lead and/or give oversight to worship services
·         Set an example of godly living
·         Encourage members to love God, love one another, and their neighbors
·         Encourage biblical stewardship and support for home and foreign missions

2. Provide Pastoral Leadership

·         Disciple the officers, equipping them to serve the members and reproduce disciples
·         Shepherd church members and train officers and members to visit and care for others
·         Counsel members and others in times of crisis; train elders, deacons and/or members to assist with counseling

3. Provide Outreach Leadership

·         Train, organize and lead members to be involved in evangelism
·         Set an example in cultivating relationships with non-Christians
·         Lead the church in planning regular outreach programs

4. Provide Administrative Leadership

·         Serve as moderator of the Session (or elder board)
·         Lead/train/equip members to be involved in church ministries
·         Provide guidance to Session and staff in planning and setting the church calendar
·         Encourage the elders and staff to develop policies that will give clear direction to  members, ministries and programs.
·         Oversee/supervise/equip church employees in their respective positions

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Pastors Lead

This article is taken from Grace Theological Journal, Volume 6 #2, Fall 1985; pages 329-335

by Jerry R. Young

The hidden agendas for pastoral duties found in many churches are a result of a misunderstanding of the pastoral function in the local church. The pastor may function as an elder and/or a bishop, but his primary responsibilities in the local church are to provide leadership and to teach (as did Timothy and Titus). God especially equips the pastor to fulfill these duties. If the hidden agendas are renounced in favor of the NT directives, the twentieth century church will receive the benefit.

* * *


In my second year as a pastor, I became aware of a hidden agenda used in the examination and selection of pastors. The Senior Pastor and I had resigned, both of us intending to assume home mission responsibilities. A pulpit committee, composed of the foremost men in the church, was elected to search for and recommend a pastoral candidate to the congregation. It was a scene common among self-governing churches in America. For its initial meeting, the committee chose to meet in the large Christian Education office where my desk was located. Surprised by the committee’s entrance, I rose to my feet and proceeded to gather the project on which I was working. Although the men quickly assured me that my presence did not concern them, remaining in the room did not seem proper to me. Before I could gather my things and depart, however, the men sat down and the meeting began. A prominent name was mentioned. “Oh, we couldn’t ask him,” replied another voice. “He would want to do things his own way.” Other names were mentioned. One man was too fat. Another was too old. The hidden agenda was out on the table.

Twenty years have passed since my introduction to the hidden agenda. New forms of local church government have been encouraged. Strong, visionary leadership from the pastor has become a desirable trait. But hidden agendas remain.

It is my opinion that such agendas abound because pastors are not sure of their own identities and responsibilities. They try to function like deacons by visiting the sick and helping the poor. They try to function like bishops by meeting with committees and supervising church programs. They try to function like pastors by preaching and teaching. In their efforts to be everything and do everything, they end up as office managers and program technicians.

I know full well that there are pressures on pastors to be all things to all people. There are occasions when it is impossible to avoid the mixing of roles. However, role confusion over a long period of time results in frustration for both pastor and congregation. Hidden agendas and expectations, if left uncorrected, will diminish the pastoral ministry and thus impoverish the local church. It is important for pastors to clearly identify their roles on the basis of Scripture.


Three Crucial Words

There are three words in the Greek NT that dominate any discussion of the pastoral role: presbuvtero”/’elder’, ejpivskopo”/’bishop’, and poimhvn/’pastor’. The first word seems to describe a person who is characterized by maturity and dignity.1 The second word refers to a person who is charged with the duty or function of supervision.2 The third word refers to a person who leads and cares for sheep.3 All three words may be found in combination with one another. In Acts 20 Paul reminds the elders (v 17 {Acts 20:17}) from Ephesus that the Holy Spirit has appointed them as bishops (v 28 {Acts 20:28}), and that they are to shepherd (v 28 {Acts 20:28} from the verb poimaivnw) the flock of God. In 1 Peter 5, Peter admonishes elders (v 1 {1 Pet 5:1}) to shepherd (v 2 {1 Pet 5:2}) the flock of God, exercising oversight (v 2 {1 Pet 5:2} from the verb ejpiskopevw)4 in a spirit of willing sacrifice. The complex working relationship between the duties implied in these three words has occasioned a variety of views on the nature of church leadership.


One segment of Christendom, in an effort to focus attention on the supervisory role of its top leadership, has chosen the word “Episcopalian” to describe its form of church government. Others prefer the term “Presbyterian,” choosing to organize and govern their churches through the election of mature men and women. Still others prefer the strong, local leadership of a pastor, and might call themselves “Poimenian.” However churches organize themselves and whatever aspect of government they choose to emphasize, the roles and functions embodied in these three words are not to be denied.5 But imprecise language, role confusion, and deliberate abridgment of one function or the other can only result in the development of hidden agendas and the eventual weakening of the local church.

It is a common practice among some churches to merge all three roles and functions into one administrative office. Familiarity with that practice encourages imprecise choice of terms and subsequent role confusion. For example, one competent writer, when commenting on the opening verses of 1 Timothy 3, makes the claim that “A local church has two administrative offices: the pastor and the deacon.”6 Yet the word used in 1 Tim 3:1 is ejpiskoph'”. Evidently the writer’s choice of words was inexact because of familiarity with a particular form of church government—a pastor accompanied by a board of deacons.

The roles of elders and bishops do not necessarily cease to exist in the local church just because they are ignored in favor of the role of the pastor. Often their function is carried on by people with different titles who sometimes do not have the qualifications listed in Paul’s epistles to Timothy and Titus. The effect of this can be harmful to the whole church.

While it is easy to argue that the terms “elder” and “bishop” generally refer to the same office on the basis of Titus 1:5–7, it is not easy to argue that the term “pastor” refers to the same office as well. That particular gift, office, or function is not even named in the pastoral epistles. However, Timothy and Titus might be called pastors. Their influence and authority were highly visible, and Paul repeatedly commanded them to exercise the pastoral gift of teaching.

In his letter to the Ephesians Paul clearly identified those offices that were given by God to build the Church:

And he gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ [Eph 4:11–13].7

The permanence of these offices is often debated, some viewing one, two, or even three of the offices as temporary.8 But no one denies the present existence of the pastoral gift. The combination of pastor and teacher into one office is argued, but no one denies that the pastor must be a teacher.9 The partial listing of gifts in 1 Cor 12:28 lends further support: “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” The teaching gift is listed without reference to the separate gifts of evangelism and pastoring found in Eph 4:11. This could well represent a combination of three distinct gifts, with the leading component serving as an umbrella. The gifts of evangelism, pastoring and teaching often reside simultaneously in one person.

The pastor is a special kind of teacher. He is a teacher who should stand out among other teachers because of a gift from God. In his clear exposition of the Bible he should emulate the Chief Shepherd, who taught “as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). He will probably be a bishop if he supervises the work of others. If he is in the middle years of life, experienced and mature, he will probably be an elder as well. Whether his forum is a seminary classroom, a conference platform, a mission headquarters, or a church auditorium, his gift is to lead a flock of sheep. Whatever Christians today might call him, he functions as a pastor or shepherd of God’s flock. Recognition of this basic truth is a necessary first step in removing the hidden agendas hindering many churches today.


Command and Teach

One of the most fascinating verbal exchanges between Jesus and his disciples may be found in John 21:15–17. It is the story of Peter’s recovery from failure as a disciple, and his return to leadership:

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, you know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

Many people are aware of the subtle shift in the Lord’s use of the words for “love.” But very few realize that Jesus also used two different words in his command that Peter “shepherd” and “tend” the Master’s sheep. The Lord first used the word bovskw, then changed to poimaivnw, and finally returned to bovskw for the third repetition of his command. The combination is significant.

The word bovskw simply means “to provide food,” while the word poimaivnw more broadly refers to “the guiding, guarding, folding of the flock, as well as finding of nourishment for it.”10 Peter was to feed the lambs and the sheep of the flock of God. But he also had a wider responsibility to lead the flock in every aspect of its existence. Providing nourishment, though paramount in all the pastor’s work, is simply not enough.

Many fine young men have done poorly as pastors of local churches because they were unable to bring a commanding presence to the work. They may have been excellent supervisors, or warm-hearted teachers, or compelling evangelists, but they lacked the authoritative leadership required of a shepherd. Even the addition of experience and maturity cannot fully compensate for the absence of the ability to lead effectively.

The apostolic directives to Timothy and Titus presuppose such a pastoral gift, a gift to which Paul refers in 1 Tim 1:18; 4:14 {1 Tim 4:14}; and 2 Tim 1:6. The written support of an apostle certainly provided instant credibility for these younger teachers in Ephesus and Crete. But the capacity to lead strongly in matters of doctrine and conduct was an absolute necessity, without which the apostolic directives were useless. In his general introduction to 1 Timothy, Gromacki calls attention to this:

The concept of charge is dominant in this epistle. The verb (paraggellw) is used five times (1:3 {1 Tim 1:3}; 4:11 {1 Tim 4:11}; 5:7 {1 Tim 5:7}; 6:13,17 {1 Tim 6}) and its noun form is found twice (1:5,18 {1 Tim 1}). The term suggests the transfer of commands from a superior officer to a subordinate. Paul expected that Timothy, as a “good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Tim 2:3 {2 Tim 2:3}), would carry out the apostolic charge.11

It is instructive to note that in all but one of the above named cases, Paul called upon Timothy to command the Ephesians. Only in 1 Tim 6:13–14 did Paul use paraggevllw in direct reference to Timothy:

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment  without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In all other cases, Timothy was the one expected to give the “charges” and “commands.” When Timothy appeared to falter under the pressures that most certainly come to leaders in command, Paul wrote again to Timothy, reminding him to “kindle afresh the gift of God” which was in him and urging him to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 1:6; 2:1 {2 Tim 2:1}).


Strong and commanding leadership in matters of doctrine and conduct does not necessitate tyrannical behavior. Adolf Hitler called himself the Leader, but at a point in time he ceased being a genuine leader and became a tyrant. The power to control others is not real leadership. As James MacGregor Burns observes, “A leader and a tyrant are polar opposites.”12 Perhaps Timothy allowed his gift to smolder, without bright flames, because he feared the possible alienation of his hearers. It is a fear not uncommon to pastors. Paul was careful to delineate between tyrannical behavior and pastoral leadership:

And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will [2 Tim 2:24–26].


Gentle correction does not imply weakness or lack of leadership. Neither does kindness legitimize holding back truth. Patience is not timid hesitation. Style, not content, is the subject of Paul’s admonition.

Simply put, shepherds feed and lead. They lead in such a way that no individual member of the flock is able to disregard the shepherd. This requires a delicate balance between kindness and patience, on the one hand, and authority on the other. This agenda for pastoral responsibility should be foremost when local churches seek pastors.



Field Marshall William Slim, in an address at the United States Military Academy, opened his heart to young cadets on the subject of command:

When things are bad…there will come a sudden pause when your men will stop and look at you. No one will speak. They will just look at you and ask for leadership. Their courage is ebbing; you must make it flow back, and it is not easy. You will never have felt more alone in your life.13


There is loneliness in command. When things are bad, the leader wishes he could return to being a follower. The shepherd may long for the status of a sheep. But the Chief Shepherd has called him forward, and placed in his hands the tools of a shepherd. The sheep look expectantly for leadership. This study has argued that the sheep must abandon their hidden agendas and adopt a scriptural agenda if true pastoral leadership is their goal.

What are the tools for such leadership? The qualities required of bishops, listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, are qualities which ideally should be developed in all believers. Accuracy of doctrine and purity of conduct are mandated in Scripture for every member of the flock of God. But what are the special tools of a shepherd, which belong to him alone?


Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus reveal some answers to that question:

1.            The ability to teach accurately and authoritatively even when alone, yet without striving (1 Tim 1:3; 4:6 {1 Tim 4:6}; 5:20–21 {1 Tim 5}; 6:17 {1 Tim 6:17}; 2 Tim 2:1–2,14–15 {2 Tim 2}; 4:2–5 {2 Tim 4}; Tit 2:1,15; 3:8 {Titus 3:8}).

2.            The ability to relate doctrine to practical conduct (1 Tim 1:5; 4:7–8,12,15–16 {1 Tim 4}; 2 Tim 2:22; Tit 2:7–8).

3.            The willingness to select faithful men to oversee the work of God (1 Tim 3:1–7; Tit 1:5–9).

4.            The willingness to select faithful men and women who can perform works of service (1 Tim 2:8–10; 3:8–13 {1 Tim 3}; 5:9–10,16 {1 Tim 5}; 2 Tim 2:1–2).

5.            The courage to show oneself, and the discipline to make the show worth seeing (1 Tim 4:12,15–16; 2 Tim 3:10; Tit 2:7–8).

6.            The courage to accept hardship and personal sacrifice in the spirit of the Chief Shepherd (1 Tim 6:11–16; 2 Tim 1:6–9; 2:1–3 {2 Tim 2}; 4:2–5{2 Tim 4}).


An unfading crown of glory awaits shepherds who lead. Let us choose them well.

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Seduced by Power

Forget money and sex. The real temptation is “king me.”

by Gary Sinclair

A neighboring pastor’s ministry imploded. It was a slow, inward collapse over a five-year period, with the blast at the end rather than the beginning. Jim was a gifted communicator, a man of vision brimming with potential. But he was slowly seduced by his power. His giftedness to lead was overtaken by a drive to control. There were warning signs that could have alerted him to his peril, but neither Jim nor his church recognized them.

Jim came to Englewood Community Church* with an impressive resume. He trained under one of the world’s premier pastors. The church that had plateaued began to grow again under Jim’s leadership. They revamped some structures, added a contemporary worship service, and expanded the annual holiday music programs for which the church was known.

The energetic pastor’s tell-it-like-it-is preaching style was appreciated by the church’s stalwarts and newcomers alike. Jim headed and completed a building campaign in his first three years. When Jim ran a meeting (which was most of the time), it was thoroughly planned and each person understood his task before leaving for home. Englewood church, once aging and a little clunky, now operated like a well-oiled machine.

But few people realized what was happening behind that façade. Englewood’s pastor was being seduced.

Warning signs

Englewood was a trusting church. Most members could remember only two pastors. Both had long tenures. One died in office and the other left for a prominent ministry opportunity at a time when most pastors would have retired. The church respected the office of pastor and generally gave those who held it freedom to innovate. That, combined with their joy at Jim’s early successes, might account for their failure to see the changes in Jim and his relationship to the leaders.

Shrinking accountability. It started with the youth minister incident. The church’s board of deacons, according to the constitution, are the church’s spiritual authority, and the pastor is ultimately responsible to them. On those rare occasions when the board told Jim he should do a particular thing, he had—until the complaints arose from the youth department. Several members reported a discipline problem to the deacons. Youth pastor Scott wasn’t handling it to their liking, and some dissension was spreading. The deacons wanted to meet with Scott, but Jim didn’t want his protégé brought before the board. “I’ll take care of it,” he told them.

He never did. And no one on the board said anything more about it.

After that, Jim began to ignore other board suggestions and sometimes vetoed their actions. But, because everything was running smoothly, no one seemed to mind—not at first.

Erosion of trust in others. Another shift took place with the hiring of the new associate pastor.

Jim was getting busier. From his perspective, Jim was simply keeping the ministry growing, but he agreed when the deacons said he needed some help. Perhaps they intended to retrieve some of their former responsibilities, but the plan evolved into hiring an associate pastor.

Jim offered to conduct the search himself. “After all, I know the kind of person we need,” Jim told the board. He soon hired a full-time ministerial staff member without the involvement of the personnel committee or a vote of the board.

Jim’s presence in church programs became more noticeable. He restructured the education program, then announced the changes to the leadership team. There was no doubt that he was a gifted leader, but his attitude began to reflect a deadly presupposition: “If I want it done right, I have to do it myself.”

It wasn’t that Jim didn’t trust others. He simply trusted himself more. He desired to build his people into capable leaders, but he felt intensely the weight of others’ mistakes. Jim thought he was being prudent by ensuring things didn’t fall apart. But most of his leaders began to think, You don’t trust me.

Redefining loyalty. Soon the emphasis was on the church projecting a polished image, a smooth-running operation led by a content, unified leadership team.

This spirit caught on, and not many people were willing to fuss over something that might upset the morale. Most leaders determined their concerns were probably minor and said nothing. Those who spoke up found their objections unwelcome.

A few began to leave the church. Jim suggested that their exit was probably for their good and the good of the church, but as is often the case, their departures were more indicative of the disease than the cure.

Loyalty and dissention were redefined. Loyalty came to mean agreement, not with Scripture or with the mission of the church, but with the pastor. Eventually Jim was surrounded by those who would tell him only what he wanted to hear. Those who did question Jim’s leadership decisions were met with chastisement for “complaining” and being “unsubmissive.”

Guarded by loyal followers, the pastor is insulated from fair criticisms of his ministry. And he is not likely to see its oncoming collapse.

Withdrawing from people. This may be the most obvious warning sign; but since it usually develops later in the cycle, it’s often noticed too late to make a difference. For Jim it came near the end.

Jim became busier and more isolated. With such important decisions to make and so few people he trusted, Jim worked alone. His leadership team did not bother him. The staff remained at a distance, turning to each other for prayer and support. While the associate staff and the deacons each maintained a sense of teamwork among themselves, their camaraderie had little effect on the church or on Jim. He had few meaningful relationships, and small accountability groups didn’t fit into his packed schedule.

His contact with fellow ministers dropped off. While exciting things were happening at Englewood, he readily told us, his peers, about them. Later, Jim became increasingly critical of the church and the leaders, an obvious warning sign that I see much better now. After the implosion, I wished someone could have talked to Jim. Perhaps we could have averted his resignation.

Jim left the church after his key relationships turned sour. He’s in business now. I fear it’s becoming another fix for his power habit.

Smarter moves

Most members of Englewood still wonder what really happened. It’s hard to explain that their pastor was felled by an ugly mistress. “The deacons should have stopped that a long time ago,” one member said. True.

Jim wept that he should have seen the signs. True.

Some pastors who are seduced by power have huge television empires. Others pastor churches of less than one hundred. None of us is exempted by ministry size.

This power-mongering is not to be interpreted as bold leadership either. It bears some of the same external characteristics, but the lust for power kills effective leadership. It cultivates mistrust and sets staff members to rewriting their resumes. Eventually, it sends members in search of new churches.

Wondering what we could do to avoid succumbing to the temptation, five leaders and I visited with the staff of a well established church with a solid reputation for godly leadership. The church has a dozen full-time pastors and a multi-million dollar budget. They agreed for us to sit in on their staff meeting, after which we met with individual associates to talk about their specific ministry areas.

The pastors, their senior pastor included, answered every question we asked with candor and vulnerability, sharing successes and failures. Though blessed with resources and influence, they modeled for us a form of servant leadership very different from what we might have expected in such a powerful ministry. I came away with several conclusions on safeguarding myself.

We must humble ourselves through prayer. I must constantly ask God to help me monitor my pride. It is only as I read God’s Word and admit my fallenness before Him that I keep it all in perspective.

We must vividly remember our place as servants. We are called to lead, to cast the vision, to challenge poor assumptions, teach the Word in everyday language, and help others see the big picture of what God could do in our fellowship. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

But we are commanded to serve people all the while. Paul’s reminder in Philippians 2 of Jesus’ humility is a poignant picture of the attitude we must adopt. And 1 Peter 5:2-3 reminds us that we should be “eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

We must surround ourselves with accountability and counsel. Seek out a team of people similar in theology and vision, but different in abilities, personalities, and life experiences. Let their diverse perspectives be refining influences on you.

Ask your team members, or other leaders to let you know when you’re pushing the power envelope. You may not feel you’re overstepping the boundaries of pastoral power, but others may. Remember “Intention is one thing, perception is everything.”

I try to have a private lunch with every one of my key leaders each year. They do most of the talking, and I just listen. This past year one of our deacons had a critical, but helpful suggestion. I began to work on it, and then asked him later if he saw a change. Today, I’m a better pastor for it, and he knows that I value what he thinks.

We must constantly give leadership away. Gore Vidal is reported to have said, “There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.” Perhaps what makes power so seductive is its promise that we can minister more effectively without the conflicting visions or methods of others.

We get seduced by power when there are too many people relying on what we say, what we think, what we decide, and what we determine for the future. Like Moses learning to delegate, we must pass the baton of responsibility to capable others who will run many races of their own.

The church we visited is already developing a plan to replace its senior pastor in the next ten years. They want to do everything possible to assure their people that the church can be just as vibrant with someone else in the pulpit. Even the senior pastor is not irreplaceable. It takes a confident servant leader to encourage his church to think that radically.

Power itself isn’t evil. Power propels airplanes, lights cities, and wins wars. It also packs a charge that will destroy our ministries unless it’s properly used.

*The names have been changed.

Christianity Today, Inc./Leadership journal.
Fall 2001, Vol. 23, No. 4, Page 99

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Unfair Comparisons

C. Brian Larson says,
“Unfair comparisons focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. Inappropriate comparisons are selective and therefore deceptive. They divert me from what God wants me to do. Some comparisons can be helpful but I must call irrational comparisons what they are. Somehow I must find new, better, and more fair ways to compare myself with others.”79

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