I regularly tell our seminary students that if I happen to visit the church in which one of them serves, I will not ask first, “Is this man a good preacher?” Rather, first of all I will ask the secretaries, office staff, janitors, and cleaners what it is like to work for this pastor. I will ask, “What kind of man is he? Is he a servant? Is he demanding and harsh, or his he patient, kind, and forbearing as a man in authority?” One of our graduates may preach great sermons, but if he is a pain to work for, then you know he will cause major problems in any congregation. Leaders in the church are required by Scripture to set an example in the areas of love, kindness, gentleness, patience, and forbearance before they are appointed to preach, teach, and rule. If we obediently require these attitudes and character traits of our leaders, what will our “new community” look like?
I pray this quote is a good gut-check for those of you in leadership. This is something we should expect of ourselves and those we appoint to positions of leadership. These qualities give credibility to the messages we preach and help others to see what loving community can and should be like within the community of faith.