In the fivefold ministry – character comes first. Jesus placed a lot of emphasis on character. Putting a stronger emphasis on an individual’s anointing and gifts as happens in many regions of the Kingdom means we often release someone to minister in our churches that does not have the character qualifications needed for valid ministry. The foundational, personal issues have not been dealt with and Jesus’ character have yet to be formed in them. As a result, often, they cause local leaders much grief and anxiety, leaving them with a mess to clean up after they leave.
Sometimes because of the gift and anointing we overlook the character flaws, carelessly thinking that the gifts and anointing make up for it. We think because they are anointed and gifted that we really don’t have the right to question their character and lifestyle.
However, the Bible states that “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable…” (Romans 11:29). God decides whom to give gifts to, and it is up to us individually to submit ourselves to His discipline and accountability in order to grow in godly character so we can handle all that the gifts and the calling on our lives bring us. It is sad, but true, that some gifted and anointed fivefold leaders hide behind the “do not touch God’s anointed” verse (Psalm 105:15) which they use to silence people from questioning or criticizing them. Their character lacks substance, but they think that having a unique gift and calling entitles them to unconditional authority and special privileges and that no one should ever question them or speak into their lives.
An honourable character is of utmost importance before being released into the fivefold ministry. Otherwise they will damage more than their own ministry. They will damage God’s people and the Church that Jesus is building.
In the Old Testament character was already a qualifier for a long-term sustainable and powerful ministry. Psalm 15:1-5 states:
“Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.”
In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, we find the specific character qualifications for “overseers.” While fivefold ministers are not necessarily overseers, there is a similar test of character that has to be evident in their lives as well.
“This is a faithful saying:If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober- minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
We will look at these amazing verses in some depth starting tomorrow…