Monday, April 4, 2016

Qualities of a Good Church Leader

Recently I was privileged to be part of the ordination council for a new pastor. I had known the man for several years but still wanted to review in my mind what the scripture said about the qualifications for being a pastor before attending the ordination council. As I was studying 1 Timothy 3:1-7, where that list of qualifications is found, it occurred to me that though this list is technically just for pastors, it would be great if we applied these principles to every Christian who aspired to any leadership position in the church.

Those qualities include:

Being above reproach
Faithfulness to one’s spouse
Taking their leadership position seriously
Having self-control
Being a respectable person
Showing hospitality to others
The ability to teach (even if the person does not do it on a regular basis)
Not being a drunkard or addicted to any other substance
A gentle spirit that avoids violence
A personality that is easy to get along with
A love for God that supersedes a love for money
Having their own personal life in order so the person has the ability to help the church
Being a Christian long enough to have gained some level of maturity
Well thought of by those outside the church even if they disagree theologically with them

What a great list. I am pleased that the gentleman that was up for ordination met that list of qualities. But I kept thinking we should want all Christian leaders to be like this. Do we really want a Sunday School teacher that is not faithful to their spouse or who is a drunkard? Would we want youth workers who were prone to violence or lacked self-control? Surely every usher or greeter needs to be hospitable and have a personality that is easy to get along with. Though deacons may not teach on a weekly basis, surely when needed they should be able to stand in front of a group and teach the Word with some level of clarity. I would hope that all church treasurers and others who handle money in the church would have a love for God that supersedes a love for money. Honestly, what single item on this list would we NOT want all leaders of the church to aspire to?

Some may think this is setting the bar too high and that if the local church took this approach we would never have any leaders. But perhaps that is why the North American church is in trouble. Perhaps we have lowered the bar so much that a lot of people are in leadership that should not be. Instead of thinking of this list as the description of some super Christian who aspires to be a pastor, we need to think of this list as the bare minimum that any person who aspires to lead in the church should work toward achieving.

None of us are perfect, but if we are in any type of leadership role in the church, I think we should make achieving this list our goal. Though we might not always achieve every point on the list, if we work hard at trying, trusting the Holy Spirit to help us, we might be surprised as what God can do in and through us as leaders in His church. If we work hard at being the leaders this list describes, we will be better leaders than what we would be if we are just a warm body filling a role for a year because we got cornered by a nominating committee member after a church service. If we are going to accept a leadership role, then let’s do our best to live lives worthy of it.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He has written a book about the spirit of offense that prevails in our current society. You can find all of his books at:


  1. The bar must be as high as the Word declares it to be...or it will be accomplished in the flesh and the church will smell like rotting flesh

  2. I like this article. But my concern would be that we become self-exalted judges, forgetting that God can and does transform a man's life from the vile to the victorious. For even Paul was a violent man, David was an adulterer, Moses was a murderer, Abraham lied, Peter one-time denied Jesus, John-Mark abandoned the ministry for a time, Timothy was cowardly... and the list goes on and on. Let us not disqualify any man from our human standards but examine the man to see if there is the transformation of Christ abounding in his life. Only from the point of his restoration by Christ, should we use the qualifications established in God's word.

    1. Mike,
      Thanks for your input. I agree that grace must abound. But we must not let grace become an excuse for promoting leaders who lack the ability/character/commitment to actually lead.

  3. I whole heartedly agree with this article. These qualifications are a great place to start when it comes to honoring God. As His ambassadors, we need to put our best foot forward. To do otherwise is not only a disservice to Him, it is putting barriers up that nonbeliever scan use as a reason not to listen to is when we speak to them about Jesus.