Disciple Up #252
Character Over Charisma, Godliness Over Giftedness
By Louie Marsh, 3-30-2022
Article that sparked these thoughts:
The Real Point:
What I find disappointing are the explanations for Houston’s actions. While medication can adversely affect a person’s mental state, it is never a justification for inappropriate behavior. These excuses ring hollow, especially for victims of sexual harassment.
One obvious issue, rightly noted by the Hillsong board, is that “Hillsong’s governance model has historically placed significant control in the hands of the senior pastor.” Freighting one person with authority is not indicative of a healthy leadership culture. We would do well, then, to reflect on which model of church governance and which style of leadership are more conducive to transparency and accountability.
As biblical scholar Andy Judd suggests, we should always ask, “Where is power distributed? how are decisions made and reviewed? and what happens next when a leader is forced to move on?”
But more important than leadership structures is a person’s character. The biblical qualifications for a pastor don’t rely on clicks, downloads, book sales, revenue, conference circuits, the number of bums in pews, or how many celebrities attend your church.
Instead, they require a pastor to be “above reapproach” and “self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Tim. 3:2–3). Jesus taught that “the greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matt 23:11–12).
During my time in seminary, I joined a wonderful Bible-believing church, and when I was being considered for a place as a pastoral intern, I met with one of the pastors. Having known me only for a little while, he was optimistic about my potential but wisely cautious about my character.
He said, “I know you’re gifted, but I don’t know if you’re godly.” Those words have stuck with me ever since.
There is a difference—a big one—between being gifted and being godly. It’s the difference between the show you can put on and what desires you harbor in your heart, between what you do on stage and what you do when you think nobody is watching you.
The events surrounding Houston are a reminder that the evangelical world needs leaders who demonstrate Christlike character, not simply public confidence; who grow disciples, not groom sycophants; who see themselves as naked before Christ, not robed in the prestige of their platforms. We need leaders who know that when success becomes an idol, cover-ups become a sacrament.
A Word From Our Sponsor:
“1The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1–7, ESV)
“11The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11–12, ESV)
Character Counts and it trumps charisma and giftedness.
New Testament leaders are chosen for character and how they deal with family, not business and skill tests ratings.
In the end what else is a leader but someone who’s character shines bright and causes others to follow them.
New Testament leadership is all about Servant Leadership. This too takes character. Story of Crazy Horses’ father taking a new, humble name when he gave his name – Crazy Horse – to his now famous son.
What qualities do we need in a Pastor or leader?
Paul laid that all out in Timothy. They need to be godly, self-controlled, humble and service oriented. Someone who knows how to lead, discipline and love all at the same time. They must be spiritually mature – which means being knowledgeable and active in applying that knowledge to their own lives first and other people’s lives second.
Beyond all that they must have a good reputation among non-Christians! Now why on earth would that be needed in church leaders? Paul says so that he won’t fall into disgrace or a snare of the devil.
The words, “good report,” are marturian kalēn (μαρτυριαν καλην), “an excellent testimony.” “Those without” refers to the non-Christian world in the midst of which the saints live. Expositors says: “In the passage before us, indeed, St. Paul may be understood to imply that the opinion of ‘those without’ might usefully balance or correct that of the Church. There is something blameworthy in a man’s character if the consensus of outside opinion be unfavorable to him; no matter how much he may be admired and respected by his own party.… One cannot safely assume, when we are in antagonism to it, that, because we are Christians, we are absolutely in the right and the world wholly wrong. Thus to defy public opinion in a superior spirit may not only bring discredit (reproach) on one’s self and on the Church, but also catch us in the devil’s snare, namely, a supposition that because the world condemns a certain course of action, the action is therefore right and the world’s verdict may be safely set aside.” – Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 7 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 58–59.
There are, of course, two sides to this matter. Reproach (ὀνειδισμον [oneidismon]). Late word from ὀνειδιζω [oneidizō]. See Rom. 15:3. The snare of the devil (παγιδα του διαβολου [pagida tou diabolou]). Here subjective genitive, snare set by the devil. Παγις [Pagis], old word from πηγνυμι [pēgnumi], to make fast. So a snare for birds (Luke 21:35), any sudden trap (Rom. 11:9), of sin (1 Tim. 6:9), of the devil (1 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:26). Ancients used it of the snares of love. The devil sets special snares for preachers (conceit verse 6, money 6:9, women, ambition). -A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), 1 Ti 3:7.
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