Leadership Conversation – Qualities and Qualifications Part 2
When it comes time for you to pass along some of the wisdom you have learned to someone much younger…where are you going to start? What if the question is about stability and longevity? “Where do you begin?
For the Apostle Paul, this was the concern for both of his protege’s. One had found himself in a church that was struggling to survive and the other was in a church that needed to simply begin well. What was at the core of Paul’s advice and wisdom? Leadership. It centered around finding the best of those in your group and inspiring them to lead. But the question then becomes how to identify the best of the best.
To Timothy, who was at the church in Corinth this is what he said.
The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. 2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way— 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.
To Titus, who was at the Church in Crete, this is what he said.
5 I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you: 6 someone who is blameless, married only once, whose children are believers, not accused of debauchery and not rebellious. 7 For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain; 8 but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled. 9 He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.
You can see that the basic list of identifiers are the same. You can also see that not just anyone will make this list. Some people will look at the list and see it for its face value without diving deeper into the deeper questions that these qualifiers beg us to ask. For the next few podcasts, we’ll talk about the questions that arise when reading through this list of ‘qualifiers.’ There’s no better place to begin than the word Blameless…in some translations the phrase is ‘Above Reproach.’ IF you were to take this at face value, the obvious question is, “Who in the world is above reproach?” All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Romans 3 There is no one righteous…not one of us. If blameless means sinless, then let’s stop right here. Fortunately, in this context, the word blameless or Above reproach literally means “not able to be held.” In other words, if charges were leveled against this man, he wouldn’t even be held for questioning because his reputation is so solid. I’ve heard it said that he’s Teflon, not Velcro. His integrity is such that accusations or charges that are leveled against him won’t be able to stick. This is also addressed in Verse 7 of the Titus Passage. This shows the importance of this quality. The reputation of Christ is tied to that of the church, and the reputation of the church is tied to that of its leaders. How?
I spent close to 20 years in Houston where the seat of the Enron Collapse occurred. Countless people lost their life savings while many executives were indicted, prosecuted and sent to prison. Some of these executives were churchgoing men and leaders. These men’s actions damaged their reputation as well as the reputation of their family and their church family. After this debacle, some churches experienced heavy losses because of the actions of one of its leaders.
I could go on and on about other leaders who have acted selfishly and have broken the trust of their family, friends and congregations. Each man’s decisions have had dire consequences. But I could also tell you about the men who have a track record of making great, God-centered decisions. A quality these men learned from a life of following God. These are the men who are above reproach. You see, when it comes to the idea of being blameless, this quality usually develops long before a man bears the mantle of Elder or Shepherd. Every Good tree bears good fruit while every bad tree bears bad fruit. By their fruits you will recognize them. These men aren’t perfect, but they usually own up to their own behavior while owning their decisions as well.
Who do you know who is blameless…above reproach? Someone with a reputation for living a God-Centered life. Who do you know that has a track record of making good decisions? Begin praying for that Man because He’s probably already been praying for you. This is the heart of a true shepherd.