Those who have longevity in the fivefold ministry have made their character a focus and a priority. Like Stephen, they are full of faith (Acts 6:3-5). They have spent quality time with Jesus and allowed Him to form and mould them. They have determined that they will serve and view themselves as servants of God’s people, just as Jesus is, by nature, a servant. He, in fact, looks for those who have a servant’s heart.
He is not looking for those who are out to make a name for themselves or to build a ministry for themselves. He is looking for individuals who are sold out to Him and love Him with their whole heart and want to advance the Kingdom of God regardless of the personal cost. Leaders who are not looking to be noticed or recognized. Leaders who are looking to see the Kingdom move forward so that people are blessed by God and walking in obedience to all that Jesus commanded. He is looking for those with godly character because character plays a major role in releasing them into a sustainable fivefold ministry.
Character is not a foundation qualification for discipleship but it is always a qualifier for those in leadership roles, especially the fivefold ministry. Character, however, is what must be formed during a person’s initial discipleship stage and their walk with Jesus. It is more than knowing the faith they now claim – it is being formed into the very image of Jesus as they begin their walk with Him. It is learning from Him and becoming more like Him. It is seeing His character and letting Him change you into His likeness.
Jesus took the twelve “rough and ready” disciples, discipled them for three years, filled them with the Holy Spirit, released them to be world changers and leaders in His Church birthed on that day. During the three years they walked with Him character issues were a main focus and Jesus dealt directly with their character. As a result, after Pentecost, as leaders in the Church, they were able to withstand the ridicule and abuse as well as the praise and adoration that came to them at various stages of their ministry experience. They were able to go the distance and finish well. Finishing well should be the desire of everyone in leadership.
In today’s television and internet culture we often hear of leaders who had a tremendous anointing but did not have the character to handle that kind of anointing and fell into issues that destroyed their ministries. This is almost always the result of not focusing on and developing character. It is critical that leaders develop the character that the Lord lays out for them in His family, the Church. This character and its qualities are found in the New Testament. Otherwise, the pressure, fame, and demands of ministry cause them to stumble and fall and cause others to fall away from the faith as well. As believers and leaders, we should strive to be among those who run well and who finish well. Godly character is the key to making that a reality.
So, in the next few days I want to look at character and what is included in this important area of every believer’s life.