What to look for in spiritual leaders

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

After the people of Judah spent 70 years in exile, they were allowed to return to their land with a charge to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. One of the early leaders who went for this task was Ezra a “priest and scribe, an expert in matters of the Lord’s commands and statutes for Israel” (Ezra 7:11).

God used Ezra in many ways as a leader among his people. From Ezra’s life, we find an example of what we should look for in spiritual leaders, especially those who serve in God’s church.

Ezra 7:10 states: “Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.”

Ezra was a man devoted to loving God and loving the word of God, which would then lead him to love others and urge them to love God. Spiritual leaders should be people of godly character who have a reputation for knowing and obeying God through the Bible.

The consistent message of Scripture is that good leaders are those of good character who love God and his word. In 1 Timothy 3, Paul wrote about the qualifications for elders/pastors and deacons. In both lists, he majored on character. He also pointed to spiritual maturity–a person who knows God well and seeks to obey his commands. So, elders were “not to be new converts” and deacons were to hold “the mystery of the faith with a clear conscious” (3:6, 9).

Often, due to influence from business practices, we gravitate toward leaders who show great talent and ability or exciting personalities. While those can be helps to spiritual leaders, above all we are to look for faithfulness, maturity, and a love for God.

Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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