Tangible and Intangible Qualities of Church Leaders

I. INTRO

The Bible gives us a very thorough description of the tangible[1] qualities in in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-3:11.  They are very straightforward, with only a couple opportunities for disagreement on interpretation:

1.  Vs. 1 – if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do” (NAS); “man” (KJV/NKJV); Whoever aspires to be…” (NIV).  The Greek word is tes and is an indefinite pronoun. [See also anthropos – and the use of male/masculine pronouns; gender inclusive language]

An issue that has come to the forefront over the last 20 years or so is the issue of women in leadership. There are three basic views related to gender roles. The first two are extremes (we land in the middle)…

  • Chauvinism is an extreme position, which says that men and women have been created in a hierarchy with the male as the higher and superior sex.
  • Egalitarian is an extreme position, which says there is no God-ordained structuring of how men and women ought to serve in the home or in the church.
  • Complementarian — Though equal, men and women have biblically defined complementary and distinct roles in marriage, family life, and church leadership.

It is extremely important to cultivate a compassionate and kind complementarianism that starts with celebrating Christ’s love for the Church. Men are strongly encouraged to love their wives and children as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25), and for church leaders to lead and serve people sacrificially.

2.  Vs. 2 – the husband of one wife.”  Can a single, divorced, or widowed man be an elder?

Some Roman Catholic scholars suggest that “wife” refers to the Church to which the elder, or in their case “priest”, should reckon himself married. (This interpretation helps to enforce celibacy among the priesthood.)

Another view is that Paul’s purpose is to insist that only married men be eldersThree objections:

  • The word “one” is quite emphatic in the Greek text. Paul’s point is that the elder must have nothing to do with any woman other than his wife.
  • If single men cannot be elders then Paul himself (not to mention Jesus) would be excluded.
  • In view of Paul’s statements in 1 Cor. 7 about the benefits and advantages of the singlehood when it comes to ministry, it seems unlikely that he would exclude single men from eldership in his pastoral letter to Timothy.

To be the “husband of one wife” means that one is faithful, devoted, and loyal to his spouse — a “one-woman man.”

Sexual promiscuity was rampant in the ancient world (as it is in ours), and this qualification is designed to address that problem. An elder must be a man of unquestioned morality and fidelity.

II. BODY

1.  Tangibles Qualities — God’s blueprint for building His church includes using men in the office of pastor. The pastor is first an elder, and along with the other elders, the pastor is responsible to do the following:

  • Oversee the church (1 Timothy 3:1). The primary meaning of the word bishop is “overseer.” The general oversight of the ministry and operation of the church is the responsibility of the pastor along with the other elders.
  • Rule over the church (1 Timothy 5:17). The word translated “rule” literally means “to stand before.” The idea is to lead or to attend to, with an emphasis on being a diligent caretaker. This would include the responsibility to exercise church discipline and reprove those who err from the faith (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5:11-13).
  • Feed the church (1 Peter 5:3). Literally, the word pastor means “shepherd.” The pastor has a duty to “feed the flock” with God’s Word and to lead them in the proper way.
  • Guard the doctrine of the church (Titus 1:9). The teaching of the apostles was to be committed to “faithful men” who would teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2). Preserving the integrity of the gospel is one of the pastor’s highest callings.

2.  Intangibles Qualities (more intuitive).  We can say that the TANGIBLES qualities are more the SCIENCE of leadership, while the INTANGIBLES are more the ART of leadership.

  • Calling, Character, Competence, and Chemistry

Calling

A person’s sense of God’s voice directing him or her to this particular role, to our particular church and mission, and to impact our community.

1 Timothy 3:1 — If any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do” NIV – “noble task.”

Rom 1:3 – “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.”

General calling: bond servant and set aside for the gospel.  Specific calling: apostle.

Character

These are all the tangible qualities listed in 1 Tim and Titus, which speak to the heart and integrity of a Christian leader.

Simply put, we need to have confidence in a person’s walk with Jesus Christ. We need to know that he or she is committed to spiritual disciplines.

We also make the mistake of placing gifting of character…

Competence

Competence includes the skill sets, gifts, education, experience, and leadership required to fulfill the responsibilities.

1 Timothy 3:10 – These men must also first be tested…”

2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

1 Peter 4:10-11 – “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11  Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.”

Chemistry

Chemistry is the degree of a relational fit within the leadership team and church culture. This includes the specific team in which the person would be serving.

Ephesians 4:3 – being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Acts 4:24; 5:12 – They were together with “one accord.”

  • Spiritual and emotional health coupled with production.

Titus 2:12 – Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”

Proverbs 12:24 – “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labor.”

  • Growing discernment.

Philippians 1:9 – And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment.”

Hebrews 5:14 – “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

  • A shepherd’s heart…

Having had their heart broken by the church, these people still love the church and seek to serve her.

Psalm 51:17 – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”


[1] Able to be touched; clear and to the point.

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