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Biblical Qualifications for Church Leadership

Updated April 12, 2021
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Biblical Qualifications for Church Leadership essay

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The New Testament church had leaders who were referred to as deacons, elders and overseers. These titles were given to the leaders according to the tasks that they were supposed to undertake. There are overall qualities that the New Testament church used to appoint the local church leaders. Paul addressed Titus on how he was to appoint leaders in every single town. Instructions were given on the qualities to put into consideration for the sake of the church as well as Christ. The qualifications laid down are broadly divided into two namely blamelessness and hospitality.

Blameless characteristic is further subdivided into not quick-tempered, husband of one wife, among others. On the other hand, the quality of hospitality has components such as loving to do good, discipline, holiness and upright besides other qualities. Local hurt leaders are supposed to protect the flock, guide, feed and give them the required direction. When Paul outlined the qualifications for appointment of local church leaders, he did not include any academic qualifications such as a degree in law, medicine or any other academic qualification.

All the qualifications were based on the characteristics of an individual and not on popularity, political background or high position held in any other office. There are churches that do not follow the biblical guidelines for the appointment of church leaders. Therefore, the appointed leaders based on a different criterion independent of the bible are to qualified at all. God is unchangeable and his counsel stands forever. Hence, it is of vital importance to follow the guidelines laid down in the bible for true worship and reverence to God.

Introduction Christ is the overall governor of his people because he is both the head and the ruler of his word[l]. According to the bible, there are those people or spiritual leaders who are to be respected, honored and obeyed. These are the spokesmen of God on earth (Ephesians 3:5). There are several churches that are coming up in this era. Some of the church’s impact on the community in ways that give glory o God while others are just a menace. Most of the churches that come up for worldly purposes do not usually stay for a long time. They are put up today and destroyed the next day.

This is accompanied by a number of reasons the primary of which is the issue of leadership. The role of church leaders has been outlined clearly in the bible, the book of Titus and Timothy’s other books. There are qualifications according to the bible for those who are supposed to serve his flock. However, the current world is moving with technology such that most of those attending church services do it for entertainment purposes. Local church leaders can influence those who are not serious in the word of God to a great degree. They are supposed to have in addition to influence, biblical vision and godly behaviors[2].

This is not possible if the design of leadership desired by God is not followed accordingly. Early church missionaries displayed characteristics such as obedience to the spirit of God, living transformed lives and sufficiency in the performance of the allocated tasks[3]. Based on the above background this research paper aims at explaining the qualifications of local church leaders according to the bible. New Testament leaders Initial leadership was based on the apostles who directed believers by their gospel[4]. Leadership was divided when need for care of the poor arose and the existing leaders were too few for those needy people.

It resulted in the appointment of deacons while the apostles devoted their lives in teaching the word of God and prayer. The work of the apostles widened beyond Jerusalem and there was a need for change in the leadership structure. The church of God spread beyond Israel and family elders became the leaders of the newly formed churches. They continued with their tasks as assigned by the apostles. Their asks included looking after, managing and protecting heavenly families on earth. Paul pleaded with the leaders of the church to guard themselves as well as the believers who are entrusted to their leadership.

The primary role of the leaders was to take care of the people of God according to the scriptures (Acts 20:28). Here, leaders are referred to as elders, overseers and shepherds. The work of the elders was to provide insight and prime of life, overseers watched over the believers while shepherds directed and cared after them. Leaders are appointed to serve here on earth on behalf of Christ since Christ is the good and chief shepherd. Leaders should lead the believers based on how Christ related with the church when he was on earth[5].

Shepherds had to feed the people of God and to protect them from predators[6]. Churches today ought to do things how the New Testament churches did[7]. The New Testament leaders are an example of how church leaders of today should also behave and work[8]. They ought to be able to teach, guide the believers in the way of God and nurture their spiritual gifts. The New Testament leaders had to boldly defend the word of God in case of any false teaching. Basing on this New Testament leadership, it is important to make sure that any livelier appointed to the leadership office has the laid down qualifications[9].

Address to Titus In the book of Titus, Paul addresses Titus on how to carry out the task of choosing church leaders. Paul wrote to him so as to challenge him in the way he ought to go. He did this as he was almost leaving Titus behind to go on with the work of God. Titus was to be left with the duty of finishing the work that was pending in Crete. He was charged with the task of appointing leaders for the churches in every town by laying down particular qualifications for the local church leaders[l O]. According to the qualifications, it is apparent that the harasser of a leader matters a lot.

The qualifications are divided into two main themes namely blameless and hospitable. Qualifications for church leaders as laid down by Paul did not include any academic qualification or certain physical attributes of an individual. This means that a church leader must be grounded in good character disseminated through relationships. With good character, it is possible to impact even the unlikely in the society with the gospel of truth strengthened by the spirit of God. The qualifications of the church leaders as outlined by the bible should be taken into serious consideration by church adders in extant as well as the whole church.

It is not a simple exercise but a thorough examination of any prospective leader so as to ensure that the people of God are led in truth[11]. Paul also gave Timothy instructions concerning the same issue of church leadership[12]. Godliness in terms of leadership has the gift of life in it. Godliness is very useful in all forms of life, unlike physical training which are offered for limited advantages. Godliness in a church elder manifests itself as the leader relates with others. It is a requirement for a quality of life that is accepted by the whole church and Christ the overall overseer.

It is great respect for God[13]. Qualifications for Local Church Leaders 1 Blameless Paul put across qualifications of a local church leader starting directly with the character of blamelessness(14]. He stated that a church leader is supposed to be blameless. Paul implies that church leaders should be above or beyond every kind of reproach. Anybody leading the people of God should be blameless and not living in darkness as God himself is light and there is no darkness in him (John 1:5-6). This scripture continues to state that those who claim to be the children of God and live in darkness are liars.

Based on the scripture, it is apparent that God would not entertain darkness in any person who is leading his children on behalf of God himself. Family of the Leader or Elder Paul began laying down the qualifications of a church leader by the relationship of the leader with family members[15]. To start with, Paul talked of a qualified church leader having one wife as well as children who believe and behave. It is critical for a church leader to stand in front of believers with the support of his family members. A good church leader is a person who is in a position to lead his family in ways that give glory and honor to God.

This bible verse prevents nonsexual and other people with queer behaviors from leading the people of God. The verse can be interpreted to mean that those who are not married cannot hold positions in the church. However, Titus and Paul were not married and yet they held great positions in their churches during their time. A church leader should be a moral leader who does not have eyes for other women but uphold faithfulness in marriage[1 6]. Sexual dishonor is a damaging and horrible issue in church leaders. Sexual purity is a great concern and Paul talks of marital fidelity for leaders as having one wife[17].

This is a quality that only men an fill. No matter how gifted and godly a woman is, it is impossible for her to be the husband of one wife. She could be the wife of a church leader who must have one wife only. According to the writings of Paul, it is required that only men be leaders in church (1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Corinthians 14:34)[18]). The second part of the family issues deals with the children of the church leader. It does not imply that a church leader must have children but if the church leader has children, then they should be well behaved, obedient and believing.

The most unfortunate thing is that there is the stigma that children of any pastors badly behave. Paul does not give light on what should be done to a church leader whose children grow to be wild and disobedient. Disobedient children can take away the opportunity of ministering to other people in a way that will positively impact on them. This is because the disobedient and wild nature of the children may negatively impact on those being ministered to making them loose trust even on the father. It may be difficult to know whether the father is responsible or his children.

Not overbearing The seventh verse of the book of Titus talks of particular qualities of a leader. This is a good quality as it enables a leader to be in charge of a large group of people. The ministry of God is not an individual issue as it needs to be done in the community with other believers. It is not right for a church leader to take a lone ranger approach in life and ministry. Shared leadership is accompanied by several benefits such as covering of weaknesses with strengths of others, less work and accountability in terms of character choices.

Leaders who are overbearing can cause a vacuum in church when they leave. It is very difficult for leaders to lead having in mind that there is a time in life when the leader will to be in the office of leadership. This may result from incapacitation, death among others. Therefore, it is important to invest in others who will later lead other believers in ways that will enable them to carry on well the ministry so as to reach many people for eternal life[19]. Temperance Being quick-tempered means that an individual cannot control his tempers at all times[20].

This should not be the case for church leaders. Instead, they should be able to control their tempers by demonstrating self-control all the times. Quick-tempered people can blow out when things do not go the way they had planned. Gentle strength is required for a church leader. This implies that church leaders ought to be leaders who are strongly grounded in faith with the ability to respond compassionately to difficult and challenging situations. It is important for them to respond rather than to react to difficult situations since reactions are instant and do not actually reflect who an individual is.

For church leaders to respond to such situations accordingly, they must take time to consider the setting in which an event occurred in and look at it biblically so as to respond in ways that are in line with the will of God. Sobriety Some church leaders have fallen from their leadership positions due to alcohol and drug influence. There are leaders who believe that taking a little alcohol is right. It is of importance to be sober in order to lead the people of God in the right way. A leader who is a drunkard cannot do it since it is difficult for any drunkard to lead their families well.

Leaders should not be violent in any way but should keep their power in church under good control. Leaders who lead with spear and sword leave behind tyranny as well as fear in church when they depart. The characteristics of temperance, sobriety and non-violence are observable over a erred of time. Unfortunately, sometimes believers overlook these characteristics and choose a leader who does not fit into these qualifications[21]. The message of sobriety is laid down in simple and clear manner in that the bible proclaims the word of God accordingly. If ever ignored, nothing will ever be accomplished and downfall will be great.

The bible talks of sobriety not to make anyone to feel guilty but so as to point out the problems that accompany alcoholism and other forms of drunkenness. Use of alcohol hurts the leader and mostly the followers who should be protected using the word of God. Most of the servants in the church use the scripture that refutes use of alcohol to justify their desires saying that a little has no effect. In the bible, there are things that are mentioned concerning drinking alcohol and are applicable to anyone who Uses (Isaiah chapter 28). To start with, pride is mentioned and specifically the pride of promiscuous living.

Alcohol use leads to addiction but many do not want to admit this truth[22]. Gain There are leaders who sit in office looking forward for what they will gain from that position. Qualified church leaders should not be in pursuit of dishonest main. It is wrong for leader to enter into the office of leadership because they expect to gain something for being in that particular position. Leaders who abuse church leadership positions do not only tarnish the church but mostly Christ himself. They are required to forsake attachments that could make them fall away by the desire for worldly achievements. God had to toil and labor for the sake of man.

In addition, Christ suffered on the cross for the salvation of mankind. The Disciples of Christ were given a share in this ministry and they were supposed to defeat Satan in all their endeavors. Leaders of today are not an exception. They are to toil and labor for the sake of Christ while shunning all worldly desires. If the supposed modern-day leaders are not able to bear this, then they have already failed and do not qualify in any case to lead the people of God. Leaders are supposed to toil as they expect the reward of Christ and not ashamed to remain in the financial status they are in for the sake of Christ].

The book of 1 Timothy 6:6-8, Paul exhorts Timothy that godliness with content is great gain. In addition, no one brought anything to this world and no on will take anything away. Food and clothing are enough for the one seeking the kingdom of God. Sufficiency is the greatest gift that God gives to his children. Godliness should never be for the sake of gaining. The grace of God teaches that worldly passions should be surrendered and modest life picked up in order to live justly in a godly manner. It is a difficult quality to attain but it is necessary so as to lead by example]. Hospitality This theme focuses on relationships whereby a church leader should have the ability to build solid, long-lasting relationships both with family members and other believers[25]. Solid long-lasting relationships enable the leader to sustain such relationships effectively. It is crucial to building good relationships with believers so that they are willing to follow the leader and put a lot of effort so as to realize the goals of the ministry. Current believers ought to be aware of the influence that accompanies modernization. There are five qualifications mentioned by Paul that fall under hospitality.

Loving what is good As stated by Paul, a church leader must be a person who loves what is good and hates what is evil. This is specific in that it talks of the people that an individual surrounds himself with. A leader should be surrounded by people who are going to speak constructive things into the life of this leader. God created people to live together and this is a valuable character in the hospitality of leaders towards people. God gives grace in abundance and this signifies the importance of giving good things to one another. God wants the best for his people so that they can be used to draw other people closer to him.

It is important for church leaders to be drawn to good things that will benefit his life as well as those of others who follow his example. A qualified church leader follows and seeks what is good by rounding himself with people of like minds. Leaders should value what is good as God does. Doing good entails looking for the lost for the sake of Christ as God also values them. Time and energy are required for this to be accomplished. Pursuit of those who are lost and far from the knowledge of God, can be achieved only if the heart is rightly directed towards good work.

It starts with trying to build lasting relationships with the lost, those who need the savior in their lives. The responsibility of the leaders lies in showing the love of God to those who need his grace and God will do the rest. When the Holy Spirit gives opportunity, readiness is essential for the sharing of the work of God through a variety of ways[26]. This is the next qualification under hospitality that Paul put across as a qualification for a local church leader. It is a two-sided quality that falls under blameless as well as under hospitality.

According to the book of Timothy (2 Timothy 2:24-25), the servant of God should not quarrel but should be very kind to everybody. This character enables a church leader to teach and avoid being resentful. A leader should be able to gently instruct those who oppose him with he hope that God will grant them the knowledge of truth. Hospitality in terms of self-control enables a leader to reach many people who are far from God so that they draw nigh to him. Leaders must be able to control their emotions and reactions even in the most hostile situations[27].

This world is a world that can be hard to live in after choosing to be committed to the work of Christ. Leaders will be faced with opposition. This commitment does not assure a believer a crowd of followers who offer support. People may not be hostile but full of disapproval and doubter constitutes. It is not queer to find that all the people are against a leader but the leader should altogether have self-control. It may also be exceedingly difficult to keep up the interest of those already in church but temperance is enough[28]. Uprightness means always standing up for what is right.

This is an essential element of hospitality for every church leader. Leaders should follow the example of Christ who stood up for the needy and the cats off according to society. They should choose to go to these people without doing popular things that will make them gain popularity[29]. Paul tells all the believers to follow him as e followed the example of Jesus (1 Corinthians 1 1 : 1). Upright and just leaders have to be aware of the environment surrounding them. Qualified church leaders should not be in the position of leadership because they desire to have a multitude of followers.

They should instead follow Christ and encourage other believers to move in the same direction. A church leader should have the passion for truth at all times and willing to work for Christ at all costs. God is at work at all tough circumstances and there is no reason as to why a leader should look back. The leader is there to be at the front line[30]. All believers need to be committed to seeking for where the truth is. Seeking for the truth in all ways is not just loving God with the mind but it is holy, good, sweet beautiful in the eyes of God and above all, honoring to God.

Paul encouraged all people to offer their bodies as acceptable sacrifices to the work of God. This cannot be possible if believers do not uprightly and justly pursue the truth in everyday thinking[31]. Holiness This is the fourth element of hospitality or relationship category. It is a nonnegotiable element for church leaders. It does not imply that an individual must e perfect but should draw nigh to God always in all their dealings. A personal walk with Christ should not be tampered with. Instead, leaders should seek for more opportunities to move closer and closer to God.

The bible states that all his children should be as holy as God who called them to himself. Great importance is placed on holiness by God as it is a process that requires a leader to interact with people who can have positive impacts on his walk with Christ[32]. Discipline This is the final quality under relationships and it is more of a summary to all other qualities earlier mentioned. All kinds of leadership require purpose as well s planning. Church leaders should never try to let down their guards. It requires taking their walk with God as a first priority issue before investing in the lives of others and their worldly lives.

Neglecting this important element of leadership disqualifies an individual from being a church leader for it is easy to tell when it is no longer there. The discipline of leaders enables them to earn respect from other believers. It is a primary requirement for all church leaders before they can be in a position to lead others. This is an intrinsic spiritual reality that makes the inner attitude very important[33]. Disqualifications It is apparent that there are qualifications that must be attained in order to be a church leader. On the other hand it is clear that there are people who do not meet the church leadership qualifications.

A leader ought to have been disqualified from any form of character flaw. Leaders who are chosen independent of the biblical requirements do not qualify to be church leaders. Those who are choosing leaders in churches should do it according to the qualifications as given by the bible. There are some qualities that are not included in the biblical qualifications for local church leaders. They should have heartsickness that portray godly living and not worldly qualifications such as fame, success and other achievements that are not godly.

The popularity of an individual does not qualify that individual for a church leadership position. Jeremiah was a prophet who was disliked by several people in Judas as seen in the book of Jeremiah chapters 28, 36 and 37. Moreover, the past of an individual in terms of politics and effectiveness is not a qualification either. Some churches tend to choose church leaders based on the worldly achievements such as successes in the faculty of law, business, medicine as well as government. Although this is done by people such as these, it is not in harmony with the bible qualifications.

A church leader cannot be chosen based on democracy as this is rising above the sufficiency of scriptures and authority. If a church allows such action to be undertaken, then its constitution is inaccurate. A church leader is identified on a scriptural basis. The plan of God has not changed and all the requirements still apply in Christian churches today. Conclusion Biblically, a qualified church leader should have a blameless character as well as a hospitable spirit. These leaders have a startling platform for influencing people o Christ. Leaders lead where there are people to be led.

This, therefore, makes it important for leaders to realize and appreciate the fact that there are people to be led by them. They should also acknowledge the role that these people play to enable him lead them right. It is important for leaders to interact with those people who can impact positively on their spiritual lives and make them grow spiritually. There is a perfect plan and design that God has put in place for those who are to lead his people. The standards that God set for leaders of his church have not changed but are still intact as laid down in the book of Titus.

This test has stood test of time and will remain forever as a standard for those who are to lead the people of God in the Kingdom way. A healthy church is dependent on healthy leadership. It is alive, sharper than any sword that has two edges and pierces to where the soul divides. This is the word of God that discerns all the thoughts of the heart.

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