When choosing lay leaders and pastors, most churches consider the potential leaders’ beliefs, spiritual gifts, and evidence of spiritual fruit in their lives. These characteristics are important, but many churches overlook the additional qualifications laid out in I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9, which include a few things we like to ignore:
- A husband of only one wife (which, read together with Mark 10:11-12, seems to rule out not just polygamists but also men who married their current wives after divorcing others) – the wife must be temperate, trustworthy, and respectable but not be a gossiper
- Not quarrelsome or overbearing, but self-controlled, gentle, and temperate
- Not a lover of money, not a pursuer of dishonest gain
- Having children who are believers, who are not considered wild, and who obey and respect their parents
- Not a recent convert
- Able to teach
- Respectable and having a good reputation among outsiders
How many of your church’s leaders fit all of the qualifications in these passages? Many churches today choose leaders who do not fit the qualifications stated in Scripture because it seems impossible to find someone who does. Some churches simply ignore the more divisive issues (such as divorce/remarriage and love of money) in order to preserve unity and avoid offending members of the congregation who don’t meet these elevated standards.
Could it be that such church policies demonstrate a lack of faith? If God gave us these guidelines by which to choose human leaders, He is certainly able to provide us with enough people who meet His qualifications.
I am planning to write a few posts about Bible passages Christians tend to overlook or underemphasize. If you have any suggestions for any ignored Scriptures to include, please let me know!