Character first! This is vital. But competence and chemistry are other important issues. Competence – when looking at potential new members for my team I want someone who can do the job well, and chemistry – how will this person fit, both with me and the rest of the team?
How does this work practically? Here’s an example from a few years’ back. I’ve got a growing church, I’ve got a very good team and then Terry Virgo said to me over a meal, ‘Mick Taylor is thinking about a move. You’re looking for an Ephesians 4 teacher on your team – are you interested?’ I said, ‘No! I can’t afford him. I’ve got a big building debt.’ But I meet him. Here is an experienced pastor who has led his own church and who has then been an elder at Bracknell for 11 years. He has lectured at Spurgeon’s College and knows some Greek and Hebrew. He’s obviously competent! But I’m also looking for chemistry. Do I connect with him? And more importantly, will he connect with my team? He could come in with his gifts - but if he messes up my team, he’s no good to any of us! Some years down the line now I can report that he slotted in smoothly – one of the easiest transitions in integrating a new team member that I can recall!
Character is of prime importance – look at 1 Tim 3:1-13 and Titus 1: 1 – 9. Through these passages – a summary of the qualifications for elders, overseers and deacons – the emphasis is not on gifting. Good reputation, self-controlled, hospitable, open-hearted, able to teach (there’s the reference to gifting – in the middle of the rest of the character requirements!), not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money and not a recent convert. These are the criteria. And leadership at home is also included – how the leader is with his wife and children matters.