Priests… must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the offerings made to the LORD by fire, the food of their God, they are to be holy. Leviticus 21:6
Ministers of the Gospel submit to a higher standard and answer to a holy authority. There is something special and fearful about being a vocational servant of Jesus Christ. This is not a role to be undertaken lightly or to be chosen casually, as some secular career paths. God places eternal expectations on priests, pastors, and ministry leaders. Leaders in the church have the Lord as their baseline for behavior. Deviant behavior is unacceptable for those who lead on behalf of the Lord.
The leader’s character is his greatest asset. Someone cannot determine acceptable behavior based on what he wants when the Bible and church history have already defined the standard. How hypocritical and foolish to think leaders can flaunt immoral behavior when church members are disciplined for the same sin. Double standards may be for the uninformed and the unaccountable, but not for faithful and educated followers of Christ. How surreal to need to declare that character in the church matters! A church or ministry leader cannot practice immoral living and still lead the Bride of Christ. They cannot practice homosexuality, adultery, stealing, or lying. They cannot practice unfaithfulness in any of its destructive forms.
“An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly o the trustworthy message as it has been taught so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:6-9).
There is a holy obligation for leaders to model and teach holy living as defined in God’s Word. Holiness is not a creation of culture but defined by God. Leaders of God’s church and ministry are to be holy as He is holy. Therefore, you can’t say you are a leader on behalf of Jesus Christ if you embrace and endorse the very sin for which He died on the cross. It would be the epitome of hypocrisy to do so.
If someone is bent on breaking 2,000 years of church tradition and 4,000 years of Biblical teaching, then he should do it in the name of another religion, not on behalf of Christianity. Do not use the Bible to defend your lame living in the name of the Lord, or the church as a crutch for crude behavior. Wake up to the fact that you have a heavenly Father to whom you will one day answer. Yes, He loves. Yes, He forgives. But above all else, He is holy. If anyone is hell-bent on hellish living, the church cannot condone it.
Where does the church draw the line for unholy living? The closer the line moves toward compromise, the deeper the church is absorbed into the culture. We lose our saltiness and dim our light. We become good for nothing and are trampled under the feet of fools. It must be laughable to the Lord that deviant behavior in church members, much less church leaders, is even up for debate.
Holy leaders do make people thirsty for God. They shine their light of holy living on the Lord. Embrace His higher standard, and expect the same of your church and ministry leaders. Elect men and women of the cloth who behave biblically, whose character aligns with Christ’s, and who model faithfulness, not perfection. They are not conformed to this world but transformed by God’s truth.
The Bible is clear: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, by faith I will follow You, so I can become a leader worth following, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Application: What area of my life does the Lord want me to grow my leadership?
Related Readings: 1 Kings 9:4; Proverbs 10:9; Nehemiah 7:2; Mark 12:14; 2 Corinthians 1:12