The orthodox Christian theology of Hadley Robinson

How to help avoid bad church leadership

by Hadley Robinson

Current standards for church leadership continue to plunge, taking on the character of the pagan culture around us.  We should not be surprised as even in the earliest periods of the Church this cancer had to be addressed.

As a result, we have epistles such as 3 John where the entrepreneurial Diotrephes discovered that he was gifted with charismatic leadership and used his skills to cut off "competitors" while advancing himself.  The Greek describes him as a "wanting-to-be-firster."  These types deceive their way past unsuspecting church boards, ensconce themselves as pastors, and then begin to gather around them wolves, the incompetent, and/or the unqualified who are all too happy to do their bidding.

What may be some lessons for the church here?

1.  PATIENCE -- We want to believe candidates who are seeking offices in the Church, just like we want to believe the words of potential husbands and Presidents.  It is so easy to believe them but this is foolish.  Candidates for the highest offices in the Church must be carefully and patiently examined – no holes barred, no pages unturned.  More than not, we are careless and think, "...if it's a disaster, it won't happen during my watch."  We must heed the Spirit's advice in 1Timothy 5:22 and never be in a hurry.  But that's the disease of our culture:  We are in a hurry.

2.  TESTED -- Men for such high office must be tested (1Tim. 3:10).  That is, they must serve in lesser offices for some time (years) to prove who they are.  We should not advance a man to the role of pastor who has never pastored before under the supervision of another experienced pastor.  Smooth speech can deceive and we must resist the temptation.

For too many, the church is a stepping stone on the road to worldly greatness.  And God help those who get in the way of ambitious men.

3.  PUBLIC -- All affairs of the church must be public lest the reputation of the Church be furthered sullied:
"As it is written: 'God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'" Romans 2:24

Godly and qualified leadership is very precious and in short supply:  men who love the flock of God enough to live or die with them; men who are patient and forgiving; men who do not put themselves first; men who are not easily slighted; men who consider it a supreme joy to suffer for Christ and His Kingdom; men who love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her; men who manage their families well; men who have the courage to confront the wealthy unrepentant in their churches, fearing Christ the Head Shepherd rather than those whose finances pay their salaries; men whose reputations and character among outsiders are spotless; men who love and know well the Word of God in its panoramic fullness; men whose greatest desire is to be with Christ but must remain for the sake of the flock whom they serve.

Oh LORD, be merciful to your people and bless us with such shepherds.