A Good Spiritual Leader, Part Two
By Steph Nickel
What are the qualities of a good spiritual leader? Steph Nickel continues her discussion on godly leadership.
A Good Spiritual Leader
Matthew 23:1-5 says,
“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others.”
Let’s quickly review the partial list of traits that make good spiritual leaders. As I mentioned last time, godly church leaders must be above reproach, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, gentle, humble, dignified, honest, not quarrelsome, not lovers of money. They are also to manage their own families well and be thought of well by outsiders. Leaders should practice what they preach. They should come alongside those they are seeking to lead, not simply have a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude.
Last time we talked about what it meant to be above reproach, to be a person of integrity. To be dignified is very much the same thing. It is also similar to being sober-minded, another characteristic we discussed yesterday. Fun-loving and joyful people can make very good leaders. But those who are constantly joking around when they should be serious or are known as foolish are not. Also, we may think of someone who is dignified as being self-righteous and arrogant. The Bible has a lot to say about being humble, so this is definitely not God’s definition of the word.
It is not surprising—since Jesus Himself is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, as it says in John 14:1—that honesty is of prime importance to the Lord.
Have you ever been around someone who seemed to enjoy picking a fight or playing devil’s advocate? According to God, these don’t make good traits in a spiritual leader. Instead, leaders are not to be quarrelsome. There will be times leaders disagree with those who follow—and among themselves. However, there is a right way to work through these differences.
Not Lovers of Money
Since Matthew 6:19-20 tells us we ought not to store up treasures on Earth but should, however, store up treasures in heaven, it makes perfect sense that church leaders are not to be lovers of money. It doesn’t mean those who have material wealth don’t make good leaders, but it does mean that accumulating even more should not be their primary focus.
Manage their Family
It stands to reason that if an individual does not have the respect of their family members and give good leadership in the home, they won’t be able to lead others effectively. This does not mean potential leaders are to be controlling or abusive. After all, the other items on this list apply to how we deal with one another in our families as well.
Not everyone is going to like us. That is a certainty. But we are to live in such a way that others cannot honestly say our walk doesn’t line up with our talk. It says in Matthew 5:17 that we are to “let [our] light shine before others, so that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven.” If this is how we live, we will be well thought of by others.
Practice What They Preach
It is important for all of us to practice what they preach. Now, we don’t have to do so perfectly; we are all works-in-progress. But we must be able to say with increasing confidence and with increasing frequency that others can feel confident following us because we are following Christ. And we can only do that if we learn more and more what He wants us to do and then, in His strength, follow through.
Jesus as the Example
As in so many other things, Jesus set the ultimate example of what it means to bear the burdens of others. After all, He lived a perfect, sinless life. He paid for our sins when He was crucified. This was the punishment we deserved, not Him. Also, He rose victorious, paving the way for us to spend eternity in His presence.
We have covered a lot of ground over the last two days. I would definitely encourage you to read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 each day for the next week or so. If we do this in our times of family devotions as well as during our private devotions, we will become increasingly familiar with this list of traits.
When we diligently study a portion of God’s Word, it becomes more than head knowledge. It begins to affect the way we think and the way we act.
I would suggest writing each trait at the top of a separate sheet of paper and keeping track of the following:
1. What other Bible verses confirm that this is a quality God values?
2. How did Jesus exemplify this trait?
3. How am I exemplifying it?
4. How would I like to evidence this trait in the future?
5. What can I do to develop this characteristic in my life?
6. How am I going to depend on God to do what only He can do in this area?
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