Leading with Character & Courage
The world is desperately in need of Christian leaders who lead with character and with courage. Churches that make a spiritual difference have leaders who are role models in Christian virtue and godly character. Tragically, many churches worldwide have leaders who lack moral integrity and fail to proclaim and protect the truth courageously.
The character requirement of God’s leaders is summed up in a concise and compelling way in 1 Timothy 3:2 where God calls his leaders to be ‘above-reproach’ which essentially means they are blameless. In other words, God’s leaders must possess a faithful, humble, and morally upright character. This is in stark contrast to the non-Christian world which looks for leadership qualities such as charisma, eloquence, popularity and material success. Does ‘above-reproach’ mean a church leader must be perfect? Of course not! However, there should not be any significant ‘blot’ or ‘blemish’ that tarnishes his character.
If you want to test the strength or depth of your character take this two-question quiz. “How do I behave when no one is looking?” and “Is my character consistent in the midst of both plenty and poverty, in the highs and lows of life?” Your answers to these questions will give you an accurate reading on your character barometer. To put it simply, the more your character mirrors the attitudes and actions of Christ the more ‘above-reproach’ you will be.
Integrity and purity are two key areas where God’s leader must remain above reproach. Integrity describes a leader who is honest and has nothing to hide. His public and private lives are consistent. He practices what he preaches. Leadership integrity is to display a conduct that matches one’s convictions. The opposite of integrity is hypocrisy, dishonesty and compromise. A major moral or financial compromise would automatically disqualify a person from church leadership.
Purity is a non-negotiable Christian leadership quality. The very next item in God’s leadership qualification list in 1 Timothy is that a leader be a ‘one woman man’. In other words, God’s leaders, if married, must be wholeheartedly devoted to his or her spouse. Some men may be married to one-wife, but they fail this leadership principle because, in reality, they are the lover of two or three women via lustful thoughts, flirting, pornography, or the act of adultery. The church needs morally pure leaders who are committed to Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to ‘flee youthful passions’ (2 Timothy 2:2).
Any significant moral compromise disqualifies a man or woman for spiritual leadership in God’s church. Thankfully, the battle for moral purity can be won and it begins in the mind with the constant input of biblical truth which flushes out those lustful thoughts and replaces them with thoughts that are pure and holy and righteous (Psalm 119:11). And never forget, another secret to developing godly character is to remember that ‘the eyes of the Lord are in every place’ (Proverbs 15:3) and he is watching your every move!
Are you leading with character?
The second quality necessary for God’s leaders is courage. The Bible is full of leaders who displayed incredible acts of courage, but there’s one area that I believe is pertinent today. The church needs courageous leaders who establish churches that are pillars and supports of the ‘truth’ (1 Timothy 3:15). By ‘truth’, the apostle Paul means the absolute, objective, authoritative, inerrant truth of God’s Word housed in the 66 books of the Bible.
Spiritual leadership is not for the faint-hearted. There is a constant battle against the ‘truth’, and the enemy is attacking from every angle. Courageous spiritual leaders must be prepared to protect and preserve the truth from the attacks of the Devil, the world and, at times, subtle attacks from within the church.
The ungodly post-modern society that we live in is a constant threat to biblical truth. Post-modernism says truth is relative, in other words, there is no such thing as absolute truth. This doesn’t sit well with proponents of the Bible (like me!) because the Bible claims to be absolute truth (John 17:17) and it’s full of propositional and non-negotiable statements! One of the great dangers facing the church today is the influence of post-modernism because its threads have crept into the church and they are undermining the truth. In an effort to be relevant, tolerant and popular some sectors of the church have inadvertently embraced post-modern concepts and consequently watered down the truth. These post-modern threads have slithered in like snakes and can be depicted by three catch-cries.
First, “we can’t know the truth”. This sector of Christianity says it’s arrogant to claim biblical certainty, so they fain humility by saying biblical truth is unclear and beyond human comprehension. This attack on the clarity of Scripture leads them to abandon preaching, and the ultimate outcome of this type of movement is unbelief. Courageous church leaders must take a stand against this movement.
Second, “we need more truth”. The sixty-six books of God’s revelation are not enough or sufficient according to this group. This is a somewhat surprising position because the Bible itself claims to be complete (Hebrews 1:2; 2 Peter 1:3; Jude 3; Revelation 22:18-19). We are not looking for the 67th book of the Bible neither does the church need private revelation or clarifying revelation. Since the book of Revelation was completed over 1900 years ago, no new written or verbal prophecy has ever been universally recognised by Christians as divine truth from God. That’s compelling evidence! Courageous leaders will protect the truth from un-inspired additions.
Third, “all truth is God’s truth”. This is a subtle but nevertheless dangerous dilemma facing church leaders. This view places general revelation (truths found in our world) on an equal footing with special revelation (the Bible). Advocates of this view integrate truths found in philosophy, science, sociology and psychology with absolute biblical truth. We must beware because the discoveries in these disciplines are not inspired or infallible and therefore cannot be joined together with divine revelation. The church’s final authority is Scriptural truth, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Courageous 21st-century church leaders must uphold, protect and defend biblical truth.
Will you protect the truth? If so, you are a courageous leader.
Onekawa Bible Church