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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