An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy – one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity…Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap. – 1 Timothy 3:2-4,7 HCSB

The church is not a monarchy. The pastor is not the supreme ruler. The church is not a republic. It is simply impractical to have every member vote on every decision involved in the running of a church unless you want to limit it to ten people. Besides, since when does the flock lead? Unless you attend certain infamous televangelist’s churches, the church is not an ochlocracy which is rule by organized crime. Only the most unhealthy and embittered church is an oligarchy. It should not be ruled by a wealthy minority. The church is not a meritocracy. It is not based on who has the most skill.

I find it interesting that Paul, in his description of the qualifications of elders in the above passage and in Titus 1:5-9, does not emphasize ability. He does not list degrees, skills, intelligence or even spiritual gifts! Instead, the defining characteristic of an elder must be character[1].

This is because leadership does not stem from what you do, but from what you are. What you are determines what you do. Every decision is formed by the interplay between God’s Word, the Holy Spirit and your character. Either you read God’s Word or you don’t. Either you listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance or you don’t. All four of these possibilities are determined by the level of your character. No man can rise above the level of his character.

Our English word character is basically a transliteration of the Greek word charakter. Character is the name we use for the constellation of strengths and weaknesses that form and reveal who we are. Character consists, not of a single statement or a random act, but of those qualities and dispositions that we show consistently--both good and bad. Assessing our character means taking an inventory of our dominant thoughts and actions. As Aristotle once said, "We are what we repeatedly do."

Ideally, the church should be a theocracy – God led. But the Lord in His wisdom gave apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, managers and linguists[2] to lead His church into the works for which she was prepared[3]. And the primary qualification of this vast array of men and women who each have served in their respective time and place is that of good character. The church is a theocracy managed by a charaktocracy.


[1] 1 Corinthians 4:2;Deuteronomy 4:2;17:14-20

[2] 1 Corinthians 12:28

[3] Ephesians 2:8-10; Matthew 28:19-20