6 Principles of “Those Who Turned the World Upside Down” Part 4

15 06 2010

This is part four in a series on the topic, “New Testament Principles on Leadership Structure.”  Enjoy.  If you want to catch up on the previous parts, scroll down.

Principle #4: Qualified Leadership

In Paul’s letters to the lead pastors, Timothy and Titus, he very clearly spells out the qualifications of leadership in the local church:

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:1-7).

Paul also instructs Titus in the importance of qualified leadership:

For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you– 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled (Titus 1:5-8).

Peter gives us his list of character qualifications in his first epistle:

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:1-3). 

One of the clearest mandates of New Testament churches was the need for qualified elders governing the church.  The requirements are laid out so specifically that there is no doubt that the early church considered this of paramount importance. The overriding concern of the early church was to have men of Christ-like character who could model the life and ministry of Jesus to the fellowship of believers.  Alexander Strauch emphasizes this:

The overriding concern of the New Testament in relation to church leadership is for the right kind of men to serve as elders and deacons.  The offices of God’s church are not honorary positions bestowed on individuals who have attended church faithfully or who are senior in years…The church offices, both eldership and deaconship, are open to all who meet apostolic, biblical requirements.  The New Testament is unequivocally emphatic on this point” (ibid, p. 68).

Paul insists that the leadership under Timothy’s care not only be of the utmost in character qualities (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7 above), but also that the leaders must “…first be tested, then let them serve…” (1 Timothy 3:10).  This indicates that the qualifications for an elder must be clearly observed in the person before they are selected for leadership.  This was not just a set of qualifications to be used in interviewing a potential candidate, but rather was an observable lifestyle noticed by the other elders.

Elders who govern the church well are men who have access into the lives of her people.  They enter homes, love the hurting, counsel marriages, and pray for those in distress.  They are men who are aware of confidential information that will affect the lives of those of whom they have relationship.  These governing elders are leaders who teach God’s Word and model the life they teach.  Such men must have irreproachable character because of the ministry responsibility they carry.

In addition, church leaders are to be examples to the flock (see 1 Peter 5:3 above). Their beliefs and lifestyle are to be models of conduct that everyone in the fellowship would want to emulate.  John MacArthur writes, “Whatever the leaders are, the people become.  As Hosea said, ‘Like people, like Priest’ (4:9).  Jesus said, ‘Everyone, after he has been fully trained will be like his teacher’ (Luke 6:40).  Biblical history demonstrates that people will seldom rise above the spiritual level of their leadership” (ibid, p. 70).  Leaders have a tremendous responsibility in leading the church well.  They will be followed and even copied in how they talk, how they react, and how they live.

These are the spiritual fathers of the church.  Their lives will be seen as examples to the flock.  If the elders have a contentious spirit, the people will become contentious (see 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7).  If the elders are greedy, the people will become greedy (see 1 Timothy 3:3).  If leadership is allowing immorality, the entire church will be negatively impacted by immorality.  Stauch writes, “Much of the weakness and waywardness of our churches today is due directly to our failure to require that church shepherds meet God’s standards for office.  If we want our churches to be spiritually fit, then we must require our shepherds to be spiritually fit” (ibid, p. 71).

Qualifications defined for Leadership/Eldership in the New Testament:

  1. Above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9):  anepilemptos, meaning free from any offensive or disgraceful blight of character or conduct, particularly as noted in verses 2-7.
  2. The husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9):  mias gynaikos andra, meaning a “one woman man,” one who, if married, has a faithful, healthy monogamous marriage to one woman.  This would prohibit any questionable sexual relationships related to polygamy, homosexuality, concubines, or outside relationships other than one’s wife.  This passage is not excluding a single man, but rather defining the relationship of one who is married.
  3. Temperate (1 Timothy 3:2-7):  nephalios, meaning mental sobriety, self controlled, and free from debilitating excesses or rash judgment.
  4. Prudent (1 Timothy 3:2-7):  sophron, meaning self controlled with good judgment and able to keep a balanced, objective perspective in the face of disagreements and problems.
  5. Respectable (1 Timothy 3:2-7):  kosmios, meaning a sensible minded person with proper behavior and orderliness.
  6. Hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9):  A concrete expression of Christian love in the church and in one’s family.  An open home to those in need.
  7. Able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2-7):  Able to guide and protect the body through the proper handling of Scripture.  A readiness to teach when needed and an aptitude in basic theology and doctrine.
  8. Not addicted to wine (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9):  Above reproach in the use of alcohol; not preoccupied with or overindulgent in the use of alcohol.
  9. Not pugnacious (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9):  A pugnacious man is mean spirited, bad tempered, and out-of-control with one’s attitudes and actions.  One who is prone to gossip, anger, and highly emotional.

10.  Gentle (1 Timothy 3:2-7):  Meaning forbearing, kind, magnanimous, equitable and gracious.

11.  Uncontentious (1 Timothy 3:2-7):  Meaning peaceable and not divisive in word or deed.

12.  Free from the love of money [sordid gain] (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9; 1 Peter 5:1-3):  meaning not greedy but content.

13.  Manages his own household well [children who believe] (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9):  Meaning he can manage (prohistemi) lead and care for his wife and children in a responsible manner.  He must have a reputation for caring for and managing his family financially, emotionally, and spiritually.  A man who can manage his children graciously and consistently.

14.  Not a new convert (1 Timothy 3:2-7):  Meaning not new to the faith, not a beginner or a baby Christian.

15.  A good reputation with those outside the church (1 Timothy 3:2-7):  Meaning that the person is known for integrity, honesty, and fair dealing in the secular world.

16.  Not self willed (Titus 1:1-9):  Self willed means arrogant, prideful; the opposite of being gentle.  A self-willed man is stubborn and insensitive to the opinions and needs of others; he is headstrong, independent, self assertive and not a team player.

17.  Not quick tempered (Titus 1:1-9):  Quick tempered means a “hot head,” an angry person who is easily antagonized and hurt.  A destroyer of peace and unity.

18.  Lover of what is good (Titus 1:1-9):  Closely associated with hospitality, the word is philagathos, meaning one who willingly, and with self denial, does good and is kind.

19.  Sensible (Titus 1:1-9):  sophron, same as prudent.

20.  Devout (Titus 1:1-9):  hosios, meaning firmly committed to God and His Word; to be separated unto God and His purposes.

21.  Self controlled (Titus 1:1-9):  Meaning self disciplined in every aspect of life, particularly in physical desires.

22.  Holds fast the faithful Word (Titus 1:1-9):  Able to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who distort and contradict God’s Word.

23.  Not under compulsion, but voluntarily (1 Peter 5:1-3):  Meaning one who willingly and joyfully gives of his time to help and minister to others.

24.  Not lording over, but proving to be an example (1 Peter 5:1-3):  Humble, not dictatorial, but a mentor to those in need. 

25.  Shepherd of the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1):  poimanate, meaning to tend, to know the flock, seek out the lost, gather the flock, and feed the lambs.

We might call these “The Top 25 Leadership Qualifications of the New Testament.”  This is perhaps the most thorough list ever written on leadership qualifications.  From this list we see the ethical, moral, and spiritual qualifications needed for leadership in the local church.  Without questions, if churches today took seriously the qualifications listed in the New Testament for all elder positions, our churches would be as empowered as the New Testament churches were.

Benefits of Morally, Ethically, and Spiritually Qualified Elders:

  • The leadership will more fully reflect Christ to the congregation
  • The leadership will live exemplary lives and model to younger members of the church how a Christian man should live
  • The church will be led and governed in a God honoring manner
  • God will bless a church that is seeking Him and His perfect will by giving revelation and guidance to the leadership
  • When problems arise, these men will seek God and lead the church with wisdom and humility
  • These men will guard the church from heresy and unscrupulous leaders
  • These men will follow the scriptures in all of their teaching and leadership, thus discipling the fellowship into maturity

In Practicum:

At MSC we take seriously the character qualities listed, and we use these qualities as a gauge in hiring all pastors and in the selection of all board members.  Whenever we have not looked closely at a man’s character, we have paid dearly.  In viewing leadership I utilize the 6 C’s of leadership.  I call these my “6 C’s of leadership at Mountains Springs.”  These are the areas we use as our measuring rod for hiring pastoral staff:

Calling-he knows that God has clearly called him into the ministry at MSC.  He knows that this is not a job, but a calling to be a servant leader

Character – he is living a life with the intent of the heart  and lifestyle that is exemplified by the qualities outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-8, and 1 Peter 5:1-3

Chemistry—he and his family have the vision, values and DNA of Mountain Springs

Competence—he has the skill, talent, and spiritual gifting to do the job assigned

Courage—he has the strength and courage to lead others with vigor and joy

Coaching—he is gifted to recruit, develop, and release other leaders in his area of ministry



One response

15 06 2010
David Brownlee

Great leadership concepts, and concepts to live by!

Thanks for sharing,

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