We don’t just want our leaders and churches to be filled with excellent, godly character alone – we also want them to have gifting.
And the Bible makes it clear that it requires it of us!
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Matthew 10:8)
When it comes to character, Jesus’ disciples were in a league of their own. Even in the closing period of the severe trauma that Jesus faced at Calvary, the disciples were arguing over who was the greatest. Peter stepped up to the mark by denying Christ three times, having previously refuted the fact that he ever would. The rest of the disciples did the same.
And yet, they were gifted. Having been on their own mini-missions Jesus had reported the startling fact concerning them that what His disciples were doing was already having an impact on the spiritual realm, “I saw satan like lightning fall…” (Luke 10:17-18)
“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece—by thought, choice, courage and determination.” – John Luther
Whilst we want leaders and people around us to have good, solid, God-honouring character, we also want people to have gifting that will stir, encourage and build the church. The character issue is a dominant one and the Bible is very clear about the sort of people that Elders and Deacons should be. Character reflects Christ-likeness, demonstrating how much Scripture has impacted our lives, and is essential.
Character is something that we learn to grow and develop over years as we follow, obey and grow in the Scriptures, but gifting is something that God gives. Man doesn’t have anything except it is given from Heaven. (John 3:27)
“Mountaintops inspire leaders but valleys mature them.” – Winston Churchill
The Apostle Paul makes no quibbles about it, the gifts of the Spirit have been given to us according to His grace, and they are amazing gifts. They have been given to us not because of our character but His grace! Paul stresses that the best way for them to function is in the context of character – love. (1 Cor 14:1)
Whilst we value character, we must also be concerned with the person that demonstrates excellent character but little gifting, as well as the person with little character but lots of gift.
Jesus is certainly not building His Church out of character-perfect people, but as He builds His Church He is certainly and purposely refining it. So if your character is lacking, then work on it – get someone to help you, pray with you and hold you accountable. And if you are lacking in gifting and ability then do exactly the same. You have so very much to offer.
The perfect picture (apart from Christ) is the one at the top of this page. Don’t disqualify those that God doesn’t disqualify. If you are a leader, don’t wait for people to be perfect like you before you let them do the things that God has called them to do in the Church! They probably don’t have the character flaws that you do?
Encourage people to grow in God and obey the leading of His Spirit, and let’s trust people to do a good job, after all – they’re doing it for Jesus and his Church!