Recently, I spoke briefly about five criteria for church leadership that Pastor Dave Perry (from Edgewood Church of God in Ithaca) shared with several area pastors at our last monthly meeting. I would like to summarize and explain those points here in writing for you to consider. Remember that these are not rules that must be followed dogmatically, nor do they form a perfect and complete list of expectations. But I agree with the other Pastor David that these form a good basis for how Christian church leaders should orient their spiritual lives.
These ideas are, I believe, also applicable to anyone who would choose to follow Jesus, to anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian. No one is expected to be perfect in the church, but all of us should be expected to grow and mature into full disciples of Christ.
So consider these five criteria as goals for our spiritual lives. Take a few minutes to do a self-examination: where do you stand on these five goals? How can you improve? What is God asking to change in your life?
- A personal testimony: Having a story of how Christ has transformed your life is crucial. This has to do with being connected to Christ and, therefore, to other Christians. First Peter 3:15-16 encourages us to be ready to explain what we believe at all times. Are you able to tell (or share in any other form) your testimony of how you became a Christian?
- A regular worshiper: Setting Christ first in your life includes making regular worship a top priority. Hebrews 10:24-25 speaks about our need to meet regularly, and John 15 uses the imagery of a vine (Jesus) and its branches (believers) to illustrate our need to remain connected. Is regularly attending Sunday morning worship a priority for you?
- A positive supporter: As taught in Philippians 2:1-4, the unity and progress of the church are more important than personal control or personal preferences. You are not asked to say “yes” to everything that the pastor or other church leaders propose. However, once a decision is made that is the opposite of what you prefer, are you first in line to support and help in that direction?
- A person of growing character: Desiring to be Christ-like and being willing to grow are incredibly important characteristics. Colossians 2:6-7 implores us to continue always in our pursuit of growth in Christ. Are you an example to others of a believer who has not yet arrived but is pressing on toward the goal?
- A tither: Giving to God ten percent of all we earn helps us remember that everything we have belongs to the Lord. This spiritual discipline helps us keep our material lives in perspective and helps orient our spiritual lives correctly. Malachi 3:10 challenges us to bring the full tithe into God’s house. Are you trusting God to provide for all of your physical and spiritual needs?
Let’s all continue to grow on the path of discipleship together!