What Are the Biblical Qualifications of a Church Leader?

Do you feel called to be a pastor, teacher, prophet, evangelist, or maybe even an apostle?  Have you ever considered what the Bible may have to say about the qualifications for such a position.   While Paul writes about the qualifications of others as well, in this post, I want to specifically look at the qualifications of a church leader which could be any of those 5 roles or  an elder or even a bishop. I am not going to get into the differences of those in this post, but just focus on the qualifications to hold such a position within the church.
    For the sake of this post, I want to share from what Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. It reads, “This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.” So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.[d] Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.”(NLT)
   As we read this, it helps us have a clear picture of what is expected of a church leader. Each of these should be attributes of the one who is being asked to lead.  These qualifications, I believe, should be general qualifications across the entirety of the Body of Christ. Let us take a closer look at each of these starting with being above reproach, like what does that even mean?  The King James says that he must be one who is blameless.  In other words he must have a clean slate and unable to be charged with an offense, not because he is above the law or an offense but because he strives to live a pure and reputable life.  
   Secondly, we see that he must be faithful to his wife, or as in the greek he must be the husband of one wife.  It is important that his relationship with his wife is in right standing. He must not be an adulterer.  As we look into being the husband of one wife, we should look at this from two angels. The first is that he only has one wife at a time, and the second is that he should have only been married to one wife within his lifetime.  With that being said, I do believe there is grace for those who were married and divorced before becoming a believer.  It may be better stated that he only has one wife since becoming a believer in Christ. 
   He also must exercise self-control and not be easily swayed or given to temptation.  In line with this, he must live wisely, and make the best decisions possible which in turn will give him a good reputation.  I believe along with self-control that he shouldn’t easily get angry, and have a strong will to abstain from that which appears evil and ungodly.  
   He must also be extremely hospitable and enjoy having people in his home. He should be a lover of people and enjoy having them around.  He must also be able to teach as the Spirit leads, and study to teach the Word of God rightly.
   The next qualification has to do with drinking and can bring about some questions, and can be somewhat unclear as to the expectation of a church leader drinking.  What I do believe is quiet clear is that he should never in any case become drunk. However, the question of whether a church leader can drink at all is not clear.  What we don know is that in the Greek, there are different phrases used to address this issue for a bishop and to address this issue about a deacon.  The King James seems to put it as the bishop should not be given to wine, and the deacon should not be given to much wine.  See the difference.  However, when studying this, I see where it could be translated both ways.  While, I believe the standard may be higher for a bishop or church leader, I also see where there could be a place to  somewhat “justify” having a drink every so often. This must be brought to the conviction of ones heart and the organization through which one is seeking to be ordained.
   The next few qualifications all fall in line with one another. He must not be violent,  but gentle and abstain from fighting.  He must also not be greedy or love money.  We have heard about ministers taking or embezzling money from the church, that is why we must be careful who we appoint.  If they can’t handle their own money well, then that should be a red flag as to whether they can handle the money of the church well.
   We should also be able to see that a church leader is able to manage his own house well.  There should ultimately be peace in his house, and he should love and disclipline his children according to scripture.  This is important because if he can’t lead and manage his household well, and if he can’t love them well, how in the world is he going to manage the house of God?
   We see that he also must not be a new believer but he should have a history of being a faithful follower of Christ.  You don’t give a toddler the keys to a corvette, so why should we give a new believer the authority to manage and oversee the house of God. He should have first cultivated his relationship with Christ, and that should be seen through the life he lives before having the responsibility of a church leader placed on him. 
   Lastly, people outside of the church should speak well of him. This goes along with having a good reputation.  While people outside of the church may not agree with all that we believe, they can tell through the love of Christ shining through us that something is different, and when that love is being displayed to them even though they disagree, it leads to be reputable.
   As you can see, the position of being a church leader is not to be taken lightly.  It is a big responsibility, and I do believe there is a higher standard for church leaders.  If this is something you feel called to do, please check through the biblical qualifications to see if your life is in line with what the Bible says.  The Bible does say that if you desire the position, then you desire a good thing. Spend time cultivating your relationship with Christ and He will lead you. God Bless!!