A highly paid consultant in a management seminar was listing the qualifications that should be found in a leader. One listener turned to Paul’s description of church leaders in the scriptures and pointed out to the consultant that they were paying an awful lot of money to hear from him what they could have gotten for nothing from the Bible. Here are a few highlights from that list.
Self-controlled. We start working on this one when our children are a year old, don’t we? Erma Bombeck said once, “When my children are wild and unruly, I use a safe, sturdy playpen. Then when they calm down, I climb out.” That’s funny, but the sad truth is many of the problems we face when our children grow up into teenagers could have been prevented had we settled for nothing less than training them to be self-controlled as toddlers. Read through the book of Titus and see how often it is mentioned in the church as necessary not just for leaders but for everyone. Also, we must be careful of this: if the only time we have self-control is when we have things just the way we want them, that’s not self-control. That’s being controlled by self.
Upright. This has to do with how a person lives and acts and does business with other people. He always seeks to do the right thing, whether it is expedient or comfortable or not. One executive of a Fortune 1,000 company was known for asking his managers when they faced a critical decision, “What is the right thing to do?” Whether it cost the company more money or not, that was his compass point.
Holy. This word almost has a negative connotation today, even in the church. That’s because some would equate being holy with being “holier than thou.” No, this word should describe our relationship with God inasmuch as upright should describe our relationships with one another. To be holy is to be like God. In Charles Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students,” he writes of pastors, “To us, self-denial, self-forgetfulness, patience, perseverance, long-suffering must be everyday virtues and who is sufficient for these things? We had need live very near to God if we would approve ourselves in our vocation.”
Disciplined. We understand discipline in the athletic arena, but it must apply to every area of a leader’s life if he is to be faithful. Paul wrote, “I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” How easy it is for church leaders to disqualify themselves from their ministry because they lack discipline. A disciplined person lives a purposeful life, not one dictated by his passions or whims. Discipline means we watch what we consume when we sit down to eat or drink or watch something on TV. It has to do with exercise. Discipline also means you watch your time and use it wisely. It means you keep your appointments and when you tell someone you will be somewhere, you’re there. It means you discipline your spending so that you can save, and so that you can give. And of course it means that you delight in the Word and in prayer, even when it is not a delight, but just plain hard work. Perhaps this quality is mentioned last because it serves as an anchor for all the rest. No great work is ever accomplished without discipline.
Leadership 101 involves getting out of the playpen and into the pursuit of godly character.