Now, the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not give in to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited, and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. (1Timothy 3:2-7)
Jesus trained His disciples for their future roles. He taught by example and by precept. His teaching was done “on the road.” Jesus did not ask the 12 to sit down and take notes in a formal classroom. Jesus’ classrooms were the highways of life. His principles and values came across in the midst of daily experiences. Jesus placed disciples into internship (Luke 10:17-24) that enabled them to learn through failure and success (Mark 9:14-29).
He delegated authority and responsibility to them as they were able to bear it. Jesus’ teaching in John 13-16 was their graduation address.
God prepares leaders with a specified place and task in mind. Training methods are adapted to the mission, and natural and spiritual gifts are given with clear purpose. An example is Paul, who never could have accomplished so much without directed training and divine endowment. I can look back growing up before entering the ministry how God was preparing me for things that I am doing in the ministry today.
God gives his leaders gifts and talents that fit the mission to which they are called. What raises leaders above other ministries are the degree to which they develop those gifts through devotion and discipline.
Discipline — Without this essential quality, all other gifts remain as dwarfs: they cannot grow. Before we can conquer the world, we must first conquer self. A leader is a person who has learned to obey a discipline imposed from without and has then taken on a more rigorous discipline from within. Those who rebel against authority and scorn self-discipline who shrink back when things get tough and fail to make sacrifices do not qualify to lead.
Wisdom — Wisdom is the quality of making use of knowledge, a combination of discernment, judgment, wise, and similar powers. Wisdom is knowing God. Wisdom gives a leader balance and helps to avoid extravagance. If knowledge comes by study, wisdom comes by Holy Spirit filling. Full of the spirit is one of the requirements for even subordinate leaders in Acts 6:3.
Decision — Making swift and clear decisions is another mark of a true leader. A visionary may see, but a leader must decide. Once sure of the will of God, a spiritual leader springs into action, without regard to consequences. Leaders cannot wait for others to make up his or her mind. A good leader must be decisive.
Courage — Leaders require courage of the highest order, always moral courage and often physical courage as well. Courage is that quality of mind that enables people to encounter danger or difficulty firmly, without fear or discouragement. I cannot tolerate a fearful leader.
Humility — Humility is also a hallmark of the spiritual leader. (See Matthew 20:25-27). A leader’s humility should grow with the passing years, like other attitudes and qualities. (See 1 Corinthians 15:9) (also 1 Timothy 1:15)
Integrity and Sincerity — Paul spoke of his failures and success with an openness few of us are prepared or willing to copy. Even before Paul’s conversion he served God sincerely (II Timothy 1:3) and with great personal integrity. Later he wrote, “In Christ we speak before God with sincerity.” (2 Corinthians 2:17).
The Rev. Kerry Price Sr. is the pastor at Breath of Life Church at Pine Bluff.
Editor’s note: Pastors or associate pastors interested in writing for this section may submit articles to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your phone number and the name and location of your church or ministry.