"It wasn't a potential atonement actuated by the sinner, it was an actual atonement initiated by the savior."

John MacArthur

chess leadership concept on the chessboard

How did God design leadership?

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Leadership is “Influence by Example!

God’s leadership design for us, involves three (3) institutions:

  1. GovernmentRomans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” (…render unto Caesar)
  2. Family Ephesians 6:1-2 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your father and mother…” and,
  3. Church – Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work…”

The Importance of Leadership

In Luke 6 we read that “When a man is fully discipled, he will be like his teacher.”

Question – Thinking about the definition of leadership “Influence by Example,” reflect on leaders in your life in government, in your family, for example, parents, and in church – obviously, elder pastors. How has that influenced you?

Let’s also reflect on Luke 6 for a moment – “he will be like his teacher.” The teacher is to be a pattern – see Peter 1:16 “…be ye holy; for I am holy.”

In the family and the church, God purposively sets the bar “high.”

Ephesians 5:23 “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the saviour of the body.”

1 Timothy 5:20 “… (elders) that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear,” and

Hebrews 13:17 “…for they will give an account for their work…” (also see James 3:1.)

Leadership sounds like a sweet deal – until you realize that:

  1. As to the family – Christ died for His Church.
  2. As to the Church – leaders will give an account for their work both here and to God.

There are two important lessons we should take away from the above –

God has high standards, and

God holds leaders accountable.

So, if your family is failing or your church, or government, who does God hold accountable?


Because of Luke – “he (those who follow) will be like his teacher.”  We are to aspire to the example of our leaders.

Let’s think about that in regards to a church leader who has fallen. Out of love, we forgive and we want to restore him. But…what is the new standard for someone who has fallen and is restored. It is now lower, regardless of our desire, and good intentions to try to make things right – the standard has been lowered.

Certainly, leaders are not perfect. Also, without a doubt, Satan attacks leaders more vigorously. If they fall, a lot more crumbles under them. But, God does say “my grace is sufficient” and “where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.”

What qualifies a leader

Although leadership in government is by God’s sovereignty – Daniel 2:21 “…He removes kings and establishes kings…”

Through God’s sovereign design this doesn’t mean he always puts in highly ethical christian leaders – but His ways are above our ways and He has His reasons.

And leadership in the family is by default (you don’t get to choose, you just need to obey.)

Husbands influence the family and wives influence the children (and in MOST cases, she influences the husband also 🙂

Leadership in the church is specifically outlined in his word, in 1 Timothy 3 (as wells as Titus.)

Two notes before we begin:

First of all, the bible talks about elders, bishops, overseers, shepherds, and pastors – they are all the same, and are even the same Greek word “Episcopos.” The different names simply refer to different roles.

Secondly, the bible talks about deacons as leaders, and they have the same requirements as elders, with one exception – elders need also to be “able to teach.”

1 Timothy 3:1-7

The calling

“…if a man…”  God is stating that elders and deacons are to be “men.”

“…desires…”  How do you know you are to be an elder or deacon? Do you get nominated? Pulled out of a hat of men’s names? Not according to the bible. It states you will have the “desire” (or calling) first.

It is then a combination of self-examination with respect to 1 Timothy 3, as well as some vetting from the existing church leadership that should determine qualification to lead.

Leader Qualifications


The overarching qualification is that the bishop or overseer must be “blameless or above reproach…”

  • The word blameless is in the present tense, so the idea is present blamelessness and the word “must,” dictates an absolute requirement. The word means “not able to be held.”
  • In other words, his life is not to be marred by some continuing sin, vice, or evil habit. He should be beyond accusation.
  • Can he have blemishes prior to salvation or at some point in the past?
    • Certainly, remember 1 Corinthians 6:11 “And such were some of you; but you are washed…” This then becomes a value judgment – salvation has set you free but have you broken your chains?

So, let’s look at the fourteen factors of “blamelessness or above reproach.”  [Hint, there’s no grading on the curve here, a leader/elder needs to qualify on all of these characteristics.]

“Faithful to his wife”

The Greek Interlinear states “a man of one woman.”

Note, the word for “man” is sometimes translated “husband” and the word for “woman” is sometimes translated “wife.”

Now, why is this important? The number one issue that causes elders to fall is – infidelity?

This characteristic is probably the most controversial and the KJV, and others, render it “the husband of one wife.”

But if this only means “the husband of one wife,” can someone be married, a womanizer and qualify as an elder? What about a subsequent marriage where the previous wife has passed? Is it one wife at a time or one wife in total?

It is easy to see how many will have problems understanding this requirement.

Does this not really mean “a one-woman man” or “someone devoted to one woman?

If the interpretation is a “one-woman man” or someone “devoted to one woman,” aren’t we getting to the blameless character of the issue vs. the nominal understanding (married and to one woman.)

Others assert that the means that elders and deacons, need to be married. Is this required? Would the Holy Spirit through Paul, tell us to do something that Paul isn’t doing?

  • Was Paul an elder? – see 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6
  • Was he married? – see 1 Cor 7:7. (according to Google he was married with two sons – importance of Jewish heirs)

Logically these positions don’t make sense unless we’re talking about the character of the man, not his marital status.

I believe that this is a characteristic of “blamelessness” not a statement about marital status.

This has probably stopped more viable leaders not only in their church vetting process but also in one’s own self-examination.

“Vigilant or Temperate

the word means “wineless” or alert, watchful,  and clear-headed. In other words, not someone who loses control of their facilities due to other influences (wine but also power and other lusts.)


means someone who is “self-controlled.” Someone who knows how to order his priorities – who has his ducks in a row. One who does not have the reputation of a clown. A leader can have a sense of humor, but there needs to be a seriousness of life that commands his mind.

When a person is clear-headed and self-controlled (the above two characteristics,) his life should reflect an ordered system – his life is orderly.

He can get his act together. Someone with a continual confusion of unaccomplished plans and unorganized activities is not qualified for leadership in the church.


This is dignified. In the Greek it is “kosmiso” which also means well-ordered. Someone who is clearheaded and self-controlled (the above two characteristics) will also have a well-ordered life.

On the other hand, someone without these characteristics will have a life of unfinished projects without goals or any clear direction. That is not suitable for church leadership.

Given to hospitality”  

Hospitality? This does not mean he has friends over for BBQs.

Hebrew 13:2 states “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Hospitality in the Greek comes from two words – stranger and Philo or to love and show affection – someone who loves strangers. (Be dressed before exiting the bedroom rule.)

Apt to Teach

Again, this is the only characteristic that is different from the qualifications of deacons.

Although the apt to teach might be viewed as an “ability” the virtuous characteristic comes from the fact that one who is able to teach is so qualified because they spend time in the word. This does not just mean speaking ability but certainly, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Not given to wine

The Greek word means basically “not a drinker.” We’re not talking about an alcoholic, that would obviously be a disqualifier. The issue is, does he has a reputation as a drinker. Does he frequent bars, inns, and taverns? Is this his habitat?

Why? Because he chooses to be in the company of people who are not the kind of people who choose the company of God.

Not a striker”

The Greek literally means not a giver of blows. This is someone who doesn’t resort to anger and violence when confronted with controversy or opposite opinions. It is someone who is not “quick-tempered.” Also note, the tongue can be just as violent (see James.)

Gentle and Patient”

The Greek means to be considerate, genial and forbearing or one who easily pardons human failure.

Understand, elder/pastors are the subjects of much criticism and the inability to forgive and forget is an absolute requirement. Someone who forgives as Christ forgives. This is also a person who doesn’t hold a grudge – otherwise, this could control your life.

Not contentious”

Here we’re not talking about physical violence (as in striker above) but not a quarrelsome person. This is someone who pursues peace rather than disagrees with everyone about everything.

We’ve all met this type of person, who believe somehow that this is the way to get ahead in life.

Not covetous”

The Greek means not a lover of silver. This and the first character trait, are dominant in much of the corruption of the church – the love of money and infidelity.

Notice also, that the KJV includes “not greedy of filthy lucre” this is one and the same with not covetous.

“Manages family well”

If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church – 1 Tim 3:5

This is an overarching condition. Husbands are to be the head of the household. As leaders, if things are chaotic at the home, their leadership in a church would also be chaotic.

“Not  a recent convert”

Or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 1 Tim 3:6

James 3:1 says, “My brethren, stop being so many teachers” – “knowing that we shall receive the greater” – or stricter – “judgment.” Don’t be in a hurry to get into spiritual leadership, because your condemnation will be greater.

When Lucifer sinned, his sin was the sin of pride, and God threw him out. Isaiah 14:12  “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer?” “For you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of the congregation in the congregation in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.’”   (Note: five “I wills.”)

If we lift up a novice and being lifted up he becomes proud, he will fall into the same condemnation that the Devil fell into. God will cut him down. And that’s exactly the parallel that the apostle Paul wants Timothy to understand. Look at 3 John 9 – Diotrephes the leader – do not imitate what is evil.

“Good outside reputation”

This is the positive of blamelessness.

“So that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” – 1 Tim 3:7b. “Reputation” (or report) is the Greek word “marturia” to which we get the word martyr. He is to be certified by the testimony of outside people as to his character.

What do your online testimonies say about you?

Titus 1:5-9

Elder Qualifications

Titus lays out essentially the same elder qualifications as 1 Timothy 3:1-7 – “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.  An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blamelessnot overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

1 Timothy 3:8-10

Deacons, Deaconess

Essentially the same qualifications with the exception of “able to teach” is presented for deacons – “In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.

Notice the sentence “In the same way, the women…” Is this referring to the position of Woman Deacons – Deaconesses, or the wives of Deacons? If wives, why no reference to Elder wives? Also, why is this in the middle of the text vs. at the end?

Who was Phoebe? In Romans 16:1 Paul states “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church…” Here the Greek word “diakonos”  is a servant but also one who has an official duty of deacon and deaconess.  It is also the same word used in 1 Timothy 3:8 “in the same way, Deacons

Churches go both ways on this. Baptists, who barely accept the concept of Elders would generally not accept the concept of woman Deacons. 🙂

Not a big deal here, just stirring up the pot…:)


  1. God has sanctioned three institutions – the government, the family and the church.
  2. To each, he has positioned leaders:
    1. The government’s leaders are by God’s sovereignty.
    2. Family leaders are by default, and
    3. Church leaders are by prescription – Elders and Deacons
      1. Those males, who so desire and meet the qualifications of blamelessness.
  3. The government, the family, and the church desperately need quality leaders who influence by example.
  4. Are you qualified? If you believe you’re totally qualified, you’re probably not.
  5. Finally, although church leadership characteristics are applicable to elder and deacon qualifications – these qualifications don’t just apply to leaders – all believers should aspire to these virtues.