by Rev. James Wong
There are four checklists of qualifications for church leadership found in the New Testament. The qualifications are mostly concerned with the character of the person rather than his skill, techniques or spiritual gifts. Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Here are the checklists:
1. Deacons. Deacon means “one who serves.” When the early church grew in numbers, the church elected seven men to serve in leadership based on this qualification: “Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. …” (Acts 6:3).
2. Overseer. An overseer is a man who oversees a local congregation. The term ‘elder’ and ‘overseer’ are often used interchangeably. 1 Tim 3:2-7 says, “The overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.”
3. Deacons. 1 Tim 3:8-13 says, “8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
4. Elders and overseers. 1 Titus 1:6-9 says, 6 “An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless — not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8 Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 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.”