A pastor is always encouraged whenever anyone says
they feel the calling to serve in some aspect of ministry or leadership in
the church. There is always a great need of qualified laypersons to serve in
such roles. But before believers seek such avenues of Christian service,
they should understand four common principles that apply to all Christian
(1) Faithfulness is the chief qualification
Persons considered for leadership roles in the church should first show
spiritual character, maturity, and faithfulness. Generally speaking, a
pastor will select his leaders on the merits that they are consistent and
cooperative to the basic expectations that are preached and presented to the
whole congregation — that they are outstanding Christians. Faithfulness in
basic things is the cornerstone of leadership, and is the scriptural method
to discern leadership potential. Jesus said, "He who is faithful in what is
least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is
unjust also in much" (Luke 16:10). Paul shared these same views and
instructed Timothy to commission men of faithfulness to carry on the
ministry of the Gospel. "And the things that you have heard from me among
many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach
others also" (2 Timothy 2:2). Regardless of their skills or talents, if a
person does not have some degree of mastery in the basic fundamentals of
Christian faith, morals, and character, they do not yet have qualifications
for leadership and should not be considered.
Besides the previous issues mentioned, many churches
or pastors will not consider persons for leadership (a) if they do not
attend church and its functions faithfully, (b) if they do not have an
uplifting attitude, (c) if they do not demonstrate loyalty to the pastor and
other leadership, (d) if they do not show voluntary eagerness and
cooperation, (e) if they do not manifest patterns of scriptural stewardship,
(f) if they don't share the same doctrinal views or ministry goals, and (g)
if they don't show some evidence of appropriate giftings or leadership
(2) Leaders will be held to higher standards
than non-leaders. To some it may seem unfair to expect more from
leadership than the average believer, especially if they do not understand
that leadership is supposed to be a role-model. But the Bible makes clear
that those with higher responsibilities also have higher accountability.
"For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to
whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more" (Luke 12:48).
The life of any leader, especially a pastor, will
always be under a magnifying glass, being scrutinized and criticized for
flaws or imperfections. Whether we think this is just or unfair, it's a fact
— and a matter of necessity, as the perceived godliness of a leader helps
bring credibility to his message.
However, keep in mind that the success of leadership
does not depend on the total absence of flaws. There are, of course,
prescribed standards of morality and character that every leader must
possess, but if it were possible for a leader to be completely perfect
without any faults, he might fall short as a role model for believers who
are destined to make many mistakes in their lives. It is because leaders are
human, still subject to mistakes and even sin, they provide an attainable
role-model for the average believer. Flawlessness is not the realistic goal
that leadership hopes to demonstrate. Rather, they must show the
wholehearted effort of following the Lord, the example of a humble,
repentant heart if they fail, and the determination to rise above their
failures to keep going on for God.
Since a leader's Godly lifestyle contributes to the
credibility of his message or teaching, he must make himself accessible to
people. As persons observe the Christ-likeness and genuineness of their
leader in a casual environment, they will grow in their trust and respect of
his guidance and counsel. "And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who
labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you" (1 Thess.
To illustrate this, one church member was a staunch
opponent of many of the pastor's sermons. He would often write letters of
rebuttal and openly criticize the pastor. Finally, in an effort to resolve
this discontent, the pastor invited the member to his home to fellowship on
several occasions. As a result, the member began to know the pastor better
and began to trust the content of his messages. It may seem odd to many of
us, but people sometimes view church meetings and services as a "staged,"
superficial environment, where ministers and people act religious only
because they're supposed to. These people have the greatest need to know
their leaders outside of the church meeting environment.
Even if persons are not seeking to be leaders, but are
given significant roles of visibility or influence in the church, they are
usually also held to a similar standard expected for leadership. This is
because anyone who stands in front of people performs a role of leadership
whether they intend to or not. In times past, I've known some in the church
to be extremely gifted as musicians, singers, or teachers who could have
been a great blessing to the fellowship, but they showed such immaturity,
unfaithfulness, or impure character, that I could not use them, as it would
put them forth to the congregation as an example. Gifts and talents are
obviously important, but sincerity and integrity is far more critical than
how talented they are.
(3) Leaders lead by example. The
basic definition of a leader is "one who stands in front of." And of course,
what they stand in front of is people. A leader stands in front of people in
order to be seen, because a leader is one who demonstrates a visual example.
A leader is a role model who leads the way, who shows how it's done. "...in
all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine
showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility" (Titus 2:7).
Leaders must be good followers in order to be good
role models. Usually a pastor will not have a problem encouraging the
congregation to do what he's been able to get his leaders to do. When the
pastor encourages the people to worship, the leaders should be the first to
worship. When the congregation is invited to the altars to pray, the leaders
should be the first to respond. When the congregation is asked to sacrifice
and give, the leaders should be the first to give. When the people are asked
to go shake hands and be friendly, the leaders should "lead" the way in
going to people introducing themselves and being friendly. When the people
are asked to make church attendance a priority, the leaders should be the
first to cooperate. If the people are challenged to pray, the leaders should
lead the way. "...be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in
love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12).
(4) Spiritual leaders inspire cooperation from
The objective of Christian ministry is not merely to influence behavior.
Rather, it is to inspire the attitude of the heart, which affects behavior.
While it might be possible to demand and enforce outward obedience to
certain rules or laws, it is not possible to change inner "spiritual"
desires or attitudes by such demands.
For instance, one could demand a kiss from one's
spouse, and might get compliance, but it doesn't mean they did so willingly.
And what real value was the kiss if it was only compliance to orders — and
not from the heart? Love is something that comes from the heart and cannot
be bought, forced, demanded or manipulated. So it is with spiritual virtues.
You can't order someone to be joyful or peaceful. These virtues must be
birthed in the "want to" of a person's spirit. They can be inspired, coaxed,
courted or motivated, but they cannot be forced, coerced, or pressured.
If the church was only concerned with outward results,
or in maintaining a regimented organization, it might be possible to coerce
the cooperation of most people with tough rules and methods of enforcement.
Even the unruly nature of criminals can be contained by the controlled
environment of a prison. However, everyone knows that prisoners are not
voluntarily cooperative. In their hearts, they resent their harsh
environment of shackles and chains. And if a gate was left open, or a
guard's back turned long enough, any one of them would willingly escape.
The only way a church can accomplish its mission of changing people's lives, is when there is a "want to" born in the heart — a desire to serve God and to do His will. The objective of leadership and the ministry is not to "coerce" people into obeying God, but to "inspire and motivate" faith that will bring about obedience. Our tools for this are God's Word and the person of the Holy Spirit, who invites, convicts, and persuades the heart of men. A hunger for God, peace, love, unity, or joy cannot be forced upon a church. These, and all other spiritual things can only come when there is a desire birthed in the heart of the believer. This is a basic rudiment of spiritual leadership. There is no pastor or leader that will succeed until they understand this.