“This is a true saying: If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work. A church leader must be…”
1 Timothy 3:1-2 GNB
Paul (the apostle of grace) is writing to Timothy (a young church leader) and is setting requirements for leadership. He is using the words “a church leader must be…”. I know that I’ve excluded the list of requirements there, but this is the first requirement: to be. As you grow in your relationship with God and as you embrace the maturing process, you will possess these qualities because they start with being and are not simply actions. If you try to do these actions without the root of being it will be short-lived and it will frustrate you. Effective and lasting doing flows from being. If you are established in your identity in Christ (being) it will lead to effortless right doing. The grace life isn’t us striving to live better lives – there is no striving in the Christian life. As we realize who we are in Christ, the fruit of that identity flows easier accidentally than it ever would on purpose! I believe that the requirements were not given as a standard to attain to, but rather they are indicators of maturity in a Christian’s life. These requirements are the fruit of maturity, and they aren’t just for leaders: they are describing a mature believer, and all of us should desire to mature in our faith.
These requirements (or indicators) in Scripture are primarily character issues. They aren’t simply telling us that “this is what you should do” but they tell us that at a person’s core this is who they should be. These character traits are a fruit of Christian maturity. As you grow in your relationship with God, you mature and bear fruit in character (Galatians 5:22), and all your actions flow from your core (who you are). Being used by God and walking in your destiny is not about your ability, but rather it is about your maturity (or character). You can train people to do things; you can even train animals to do things! Gifting (or ability) isn’t everything.
You may feel like you are not gifted enough to do something significant, but remember that God is more interested in character than gifting, and anyone can choose to be a person of character. God can equip people of character, but He can’t give people of gifting, character. Character is your decision and is developed over time as you positively respond to God’s Word.
If you want to fulfil your potential and walk in your destiny, then you need to focus on the root of things and not only the fruit. The right root will produce the right fruit. A person of character doesn’t struggle to do the right thing – doing right becomes a natural by-product of (or an overflow) of having the right foundation in you. As you embrace relationship with God and allow His Word to shape your thinking (Romans 12:1-2) you will see transformation in your heart and actions, and you will mature and grow in influence.