There is a push today in many churches and denominations to advance leadership within the local church. 1 Timothy 3:1 commends those who have the desire and the initiative to seek leadership within the church: “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.” However, a considerable number of pastors and Christian leaders select leaders in their churches without considering the biblical qualifications for choosing leaders.
2 Timothy 2:2 is a pivotal verse which depicts three qualities in selecting Christian leaders: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” The apostle Paul depicts three key characteristics that must be followed in choosing those to lead the Church of Jesus Christ. Look at the verse carefully. Note that Paul does not say that these qualities should be on the job training program, they should already be inherently part of a potential leaders Christ-like character based a certain level of Christian maturity.
First Paul states that potential leaders must be someone who can be entrusted. To be entrusted means to hold a trust of someone else’s property or well-being. As we raise individuals into leadership positions we must recognize that we are entrusting them with the greatest responsibility of all: other people’s spiritual lives and destinies.
Second, Paul states that a potential leader must be reliable. Reliability is the quality of being someone that can be counted on consistently. Consistency is a mark of Christian maturity and leaders without this quality are not fit to lead.
Third, Paul states that potential leaders must be qualified. What does Paul mean when he states that they must be qualified? Simply this: a qualified individual being considered for Christian leadership must have been mentored in Christian service. Whether this is through formal education or an in-depth mentoring process taking the time for necessary preparation for leadership is essential. Again, Paul states in 1 Timothy 3:6 that a leader should “not be a novice, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.”
The Bible states that potential leaders must be able to be entrusted, be reliable and be qualified. In today’s church there are great needs to be met in the realm of leadership. However, when out of desperation we select immature or unqualified leaders in the church we are only hurting ourselves and our congregations. This type of leader almost always falls short. Often, they are a source of constant frustration for those in authority above them. And usually they end up shirking from their leadership role. Sometimes they must be involuntarily replaced. This is indeed a painful task to perform.
Christ-like character must be shaped and molded carefully. Galatians 4:19 reminds us that developing character takes times. “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Christ-like character must be formed. Forming character takes time, it takes nurture and it takes patience. Leaders should not be selected too early in the process of becoming more like Jesus.