I was asked by a friend to write some thoughts about Elder selection and training and I suppose that I could comment on the lists of qualifications in I Timothy and Titus or set out some curriculum that would help in the development of spiritual maturity. All that has been done and I don’t think I can add much to that store of knowledge. So I am going to briefly discuss what I believe is most on my heart concerning leadership. It is the quality that I admire most in a leader and it is the lack of this quality that causes the greatest harm the Church. It is summed up in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”.
Above all we need leaders who are uninhibited conduits of God’s grace in all its multiple forms. Contrarily, what we don’t need anyone who is being opposed by God in leadership. So humility seems to be a pretty important quality. Let me define humility.
Humility is the attitude that allows one to see themselves truthfully in relationship to God and others. In order to possess humility one must first be willing to strip out all the false beliefs and receive humbly God’s instruction. In other words, it starts with an attitude of the heart and flows out from there. This is where I see our error in leadership selection rise. We mistake confidence, competence and success (and sometimes arrogance) for true spiritual leadership. We must look instead for competent leaders that find their confidence not in themselves but in the Lord.
This is the person whom God pours out his grace upon and this is the leader that inspires the Church to live in true spiritual power.
Pride in all its forms limits this work of the Holy Spirit in a leader (and others) and it is what we need to be ruthless in removing from our lives if we are to receive God’s grace. Let me share some of the consequences of pride that are easily overlooked.
- Pride limits a leader’s ability to see the gifts of others and serve them in growing using those gifts.
- Pride puts ones accomplishments at the center of their self-worth
- Pride presents it’s self as caution because of the fear of failure which would damage the leader’s reputation
- Pride deadens a leader’s ears to waiting for the Lord to speak
- Pride greatly limits a leader’s ability to feel compassion and empathy for those who struggle in ways they have not
- Pride holds onto titles, positions, degrees and awards as proof of their qualification to lead.
So what is the litmus test for pride? I don’t know if there is any assessment available but here are a few questions I would ask a potential leader to see if they have wrestled with their pride. Because that is the best we can do. Pride is not eradicated in any of our lives until we are finally fully transformed. But the awareness of it is a great prescription for keeping it in check.
Questions to ask to reveal the awareness of pride.
- Tell me about a time when you failed. What lessons did you learn?
- What do you think are your greatest weaknesses? (If they say they work too hard … run!)
- What do you think A. W Tozer meant when he said...
- What are you most grateful for? (Gratitude is antithetical to pride. When you see it you know that is the work of the Holy Spirit)
- What scares you? (fear of anything but God is an indication of putting one’s trust in something other than God)
- What does it mean to you when Jesus said: