The Church of Jesus Christ is always in the need of leaders. A local church will never rise higher or grow beyond its leadership. Too many Christians let too few Christians do all the work and take all the responsibility. The New Testament implies that recognized leadership is essential to the church’s development and spiritual health. Careful and detailed instructions are given concerning the qualifications necessary for leadership in the church. Having the right leaders was considered a number one priority (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). Leadership is necessary for the responsible running of the church, for guidance and decisions to be made (Acts 15:6; 21:18-25). When a crisis arises, someone has to take action. Cohesion and coordination depend upon leadership. Leadership is important if God’s people are to be cared for spiritually, because they need shepherding (1 Peter 5:1ff.).
“To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition” (1 Timothy 3:1). What are the basic qualifications for leadership in general.
First, there must be a distinctive character inspiring confidence and loyalty.
Second, there must be a capacity for work and for decision.
Third, there needs to be an element of drive, energy and enthusiasm.
Fourth, there should be a readiness to assume responsibility and the recruitment and direction of others.
Fifth, there needs to be an ability to convey vision to others, and to work with them in its realization.
Spiritual leadership is not determined finally by any one of these factors but by a factor which influences each of these qualities for good. The early church in Jerusalem was called upon to appoint leaders at a time of growing responsibilities. Administration was part of the task to be delegated by the apostles, and people of spiritual wisdom were needed. But more than those qualities were required: they had to be followers of Jesus Christ who were “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:3).
The distinctive feature and requirement of Christian leadership is that the person should be “full of the Holy Spirit.” To exercise Christian leadership God requires that a person’s life should be so yielded to him in dedication that with that life the Holy Spirit may do what he wills to accomplish his purposes.
When a Christian is filled with the Spirit there is a power about her life which makes useful every natural ability she has for leadership. Being full of the Holy Spirit such a person’s character is transformed after the pattern of Christ’s. Within her is a desire to work hard for Christ’s glory; in the decisions that have to be made, she draws upon the wisdom the Holy Spirit gives. Where the Holy Spirit is, there is drive and spiritual enthusiasm. Not only is there vision but also the capacity to impart it to others. Responsibility, rather than being irksome, is accepted willingly through the grace and help of the Holy Spirit.
This distinctive spiritual requirement brings about the dissimilarities of spiritual leadership from leadership of other kinds, such as in a business or a club or a community association. The Christian leader knows himself to be under God. In other spheres a leader may be under no one, and may be a law to himself. The Christian leader is always under authority. He does not act to please himself but with the counsel of others who are all under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Christian leadership involves following another leader – Christ. It means being an example to the church and a servant, as Jesus was. Christian leadership has many qualities in common with other kinds of leadership; nevertheless it is distinctive in that its major requirement is that the individual should know experimentally the power of the Holy Spirit.
How do you know is a person is spiritually equipped for leadership in the church? How are you able to recognize the person who is filled with the Holy Spirit? St. Paul knew that the person whose life is under the control of the Holy Spirit exhibits definite characteristics (see 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-11). These are the prescribed qualifications.
1. Has he a good reputation?
2. Is she of blameless character?
3. Is his life marked by self-control?
4. Is he a man of spiritual maturity?
5. Is her homelife well ordered?
6. If married, is his spouse one with him in the Chrisitan faith?
7. Does she already give of herself willingly in the life of the church?
It is not without significance that no reference is made to either intellectual ability or social status. Spiritual qualities are the priorities.
What do you think are the qualities most needed in church leaders today?