Competence of Character image

Competence of Character

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

It is amusing, if salutary, to look at the remaining candidates in the Tory Party leadership election and consider whether any of them would qualify as church elders. With the amount of wife-stealing and drug using that has been admitted it seems unlikely.

When it comes to worldly leadership the key question is to do with competence, with issues of character then intruding. So the main question is whether Boris is competent to lead the country – oh, and what about his propensity for running off with other women? Or, is Gove competent to be Prime Minister – and might his cocaine use have any relevance for that?

Leadership in the church is meant to operate from the opposite position: does this man’s character qualify him for eldership? And if it does, is he also gifted in the things elders are expected to do?

In an increasingly corporate age it is easy for us to slip into worldly categories in the church. We exalt leadership, gift and charisma and people get appointed to position because of their ability. But the Bible shows us a very different pattern in which we are to look for fatherly pastoring of the church household. This doesn’t mean gift and competence are unimportant but that we mustn’t confuse our categories: it is character that qualifies or disqualifies over and about competence.

That might not be the way to get ahead in politics, but it is the measure we must use in the church.

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