Given the level of distrust that seems to be growing towards church leaders and  corporate offenses rising against the Church, I’ve been getting more emails asking how to know if a pastor can be trusted. Obviously, there are clear scriptural directives concerning the qualifications of church leaders (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1:6-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-3).

But, how about getting a bit more practical? If those qualifications are truly met, what would that really look like? Here is my own “short list” of things I would hope to see in any church leader who is living out these biblical standards with a pure heart and clear conscience:

THEIR PERSONAL LIFE AND CONDUCT IS THE SAME BOTH ON AND OFF THE PLATFORM (1 Timothy 4:12-16). How do they relate to people when they’re off the mic? How do they treat their staff? What does their daily conduct and interactions with others look like? This reveals authenticity over performance.

THEY HONOR THEIR SPOUSE (Ephesians 5:25). One of the greatest tests of maturity in a Christian leader is how healthy their marriage is (iron sharpens iron)! How they treat, honor, and show respect towards the other is a huge indicator of a leader’s humility, as well as their ability to work through differing opinions:-).

THEIR CHILDREN SPEAK WELL OF THEM (Psalm 128:3-4). Though not all their children may be walking with the Lord (PK’s are fiercely targeted by the enemy), the family dynamic is very revealing about parenting skills. Do they get along? Do they like each other? How does a leader talk about their family? Since the church is a family, a pastor’s family will be the first fruit of that leader’s heart and values.

THEY WILL BE A TEAM PLAYER, NOT A SOLOIST (1 Corinthians 12:20-25). It takes a mature leader to share the spotlight and invite the talents, perspectives, and feedback from other good leaders. A healthy pastor will champion team building more than building their own platform.

THEY WILL BE APPROACHABLE (1Thessalonians 2:10-12). Though not all can be as accessible (the larger the church, the less accessible the lead pastor may be), any good pastor will be approachable. A strong indicator of a true servant leader is someone who welcomes and invites interaction and conversation from others.

THEY DEMONSTRATE HOW TO WORK THROUGH CONFLICT (1 Peter 5:1-3). Every family has conflict. The question is, are there healthy practices put in place to work through it redemptively so that the family is built up and not torn apart? Do people know where to go with questions, and are they heard and resolved? Is this communicated? What’s their track record?

THEY ARE WILLING TO SHARE THEIR OWN STRUGGLES AND ADMIT WHEN THEY’RE WRONG (Titus 2:7). Purity of heart is often revealed through vulnerability. Testifying to victories in personal failings will empower the flock to follow suit. Though wisdom should be applied in discerning how much to share, a heart that is open is not afraid of being real.

In our own ministry, these are just a few of the qualities we encourage our leaders to embrace. In the end, it’s not always WHAT we do, but HOW we do it that will reveal what’s in the heart. If truth is our guide and love is our fuel, God’s house can be a place of safety, mutual trust and respect, and a wellspring of life for everyone.

Have anything else to add? What gives you the greatest confidence in trusting a pastor or church leader?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wanda Alger

Wanda Alger

Wanda has been in ministry for over 35 years as a worship leader, teacher, author, deliverance counselor, and speaker.

Comments

3 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for your post… so poignantly, yet gently put! Over the years, I thankfully have experienced more of what you describe, but not absent of opposite character qualities in former Pastors that some our adult children are still recovering from. I am truly thankful for God’s grace and love that has healed me and my husband of 45 years through prayer, solid Biblical teaching, and Godly counsel. He helped us navigate through forgiving and praying for Pastors who lacked in the critical loving, integrity-filled, servant-leader ways you describe. – Corrine

  2. Well said. At this point, it sounds like suspicions are rising, and fear is behind it. Don’t let a critical spirit creep in and raise doubts and put otherwise good pastors under the microscope. Ask for discernment and pray for a healthy desire for holiness to fall on your church. Starting with you.

    I support pastors in prayer group ministry, so I see many churches. I wish the general condition of churches was much better, but we are all on a journey. We are all kingdom children- we get in trouble sometimes, but like Wanda said, how we handle it makes all the difference.

    This is a difficult thing in large churches. Hopefully there are secondary leaders that are accessible that can minister where the primary leader can’t reach. Like in any relationship, you need to get to know someone in order to truly trust them. I guess that’s why I prefer smaller churches so the pastors are accessible. It’s just going to take longer to discern if they are not reachable. Personally, I prefer someone with a shepherd’s heart, but not all ministries are built that way. It’s hard to find a counselor in the war department. 🙂

    When I visit churches, my radar is up, looking at the health of the people. God explained to me that the health of the church is in the health of the hearts of its people. Effective leadership should be able to reach those hearts and build health into them, or at least provide a means for those that choose it.

    I pray that this cleansing is effective and causes people to seek Daddy’s face. No division, but leaning in together to be supportive of one another.

  3. This is excellent guidelines. Thank you so much.
    I know lots of people who have been deeply concerned about returning to church and worried about corruption in the church or even
    more importantly, being taught by pastors who don’t have a clue as to what is going on in the real world right now.
    Thank you,

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