Think of a church as a mirror of its leaders. The characteristics of any church are directly related to the quality of its leadership. That’s why the Bible emphasizes the importance of qualified church leadership and describes specific standards for evaluating those who are called to serve. Failure to follow those standards has caused many of the problems in churches throughout the world.

That was the problem facing Timothy in Ephesus, so Paul gave him a detailed explanation of the qualifications for elders and deacons (1 Tim 3). The Ephesian Christians were well acquainted with high-quality leadership. Several years prior to writing 1 Timothy, Paul had started the church at Ephesus and spent three years there training the local leaders.

Godly Leadership. A church is only as godly as its leaders. When churches fail to uphold the biblical standard for spiritual leadership, such failures always negatively impact the quality of a congregation.

Sometimes when a church is failing to have an impact on the world or is experiencing strife and conflict among its membership, it will look for solutions in church programs and strategies, when the real issue may be unqualified leaders. Perhaps this ought to be the first thing to check.

It is not without reason that in his description of the qualifications for elders and deacons, Paul focuses on the character of the person rather than the function they have in the church.

Called by God. How do you know if you’re called to be a local leader in your church? In the Old Testament, God used different ways to deliver His call, and in the New Testament the call for His disciples came directly from Jesus Christ. Today it is different. I believe that the call to be a leader in the church now comes from the church election process and the Holy Spirit compelling a man or woman’s heart in that direction. Paul says, “This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” (1 Tim 3:1, KJV). If you sense a strong desire to serve the church as a leader, it may be God’s call to serve Him in that capacity and the church should confirm that call by electing you for that function.

As mentioned before, another key element of God’s call is qualification. All who desire spiritual leadership must also meet the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3.

Remember that when God calls you, if you do not possess the necessary qualities or skills, He will give you the gifts and empower you for the task. If today you are unsure about your calling or lacking passion for your ministry to your congregation, pray fervently that God may give you a renewed sense of calling and commitment to His work.

May God continue to bless you in this new year as you serve Him as a local church leader!