Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
— 1 Corinthians 4:1
I want to devote today’s Sparkling Gem to the private lives of potential leaders. In particular, I want to talk about their marriages, their children, the physical condition of the houses where they live, and the manner in which they manage their personal finances. These four points are extremely important when you’re considering someone to be a leader.
What happens in a person’s private life affects his job or his public ministry. Someone may argue, “But my private life and my home life don’t have anything to do with my ministry at the church, my ability to serve, or how I perform at work. You have no right to dig into my personal life.”
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This way of thinking is wrong. What happens in a person’s private life spills over into his public life. What goes on behind closed doors in a leader’s home will tell you exactly what kind of blessings or problems he will bring to his public ministry or job. This is precisely why the apostle Paul urged Timothy to take a deeper look at the personal life of a potential leader before inviting him to be a part of his leadership team (see 1 Timothy 3:4,5). You see, God designed the home as a honing instrument for many of the qualities required to be a leader in the Kingdom of God.
Paul told Timothy that a leader must be “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Timothy 3:4,5).
The Greek word for “ruleth” is the word proistimi, a compound of pro and istimi. The word pro means before or in front of, and the word istimi means to stand. When compounded together, the new word depicts someone who is standing up front before others in order to lead, guide, direct, or manage a situation. It conveys the meaning of a leader who is responsibly giving oversight and direction to a group of people or to a project. Paul uses the word “well” to describe the way this person rules. It is the Greek word kalos, which means good, well, or skilled. Thus, it pictures an individual who has shown that he is able to successfully give oversight to a group of people or to a specific project.
Paul says it is required that a spiritual leader rule well his own “house.” The word “house” is the Greek word oikos, which is the word for a physical house. However, as it is used here, it includes the management of the house and everything that happens in that house. Thus, “ruling” one’s household would include how a leader manages his home life, his children, the upkeep of the physical house or apartment where he lives, and his personal finances. All of this would be part of his oikos — his house.
Important information about how well potential leaders will serve at church or at work can be ascertained by delving into these four points. So let’s briefly review these four critical areas of concern.
Their Home Life:
Paul said a leader must be “one that ruleth well his own house….” As noted, the word “house” is the word oikos and includes everything about a person’s home life. One of the most strategic factors to consider when selecting new married leaders is the condition of their marriage. What kind of relationship do they have with their spouse? Is it a supportive, healthy marriage, or one that is full of problems? Does the relationship reveal good communication between the husband and wife? If that potential leader cannot successfully communicate with the most important person in his life, how do you know he will be able to properly communicate with others at church or at work? These questions may give you great insight into the pluses and minuses that come with new potential leaders.
Paul said a leader must be one who has his “…children in subjection with all gravity.” If potential candidates have children, perhaps nothing gives you clearer insight into what kind of leaders they will be than the example of their own children. Although you can’t make this a hard and fast rule, most often the children of potential leaders are a reflection of the kind of leadership those candidates are currently exercising in their own home.
Since people can impart only what they have in their private lives, it is good to observe what potential leaders have imparted within their own homes. What is the visible fruit of their influence and leadership in their children’s lives?
- Do the children speak respectfully to elders?
- Do they speak respectfully to each other?
- Do they understand authority and submission?
- Do the children do what they are told, or do they ignore their parents’ instructions?
The answers to these simple, basic questions are important indicators to let you know how potential candidates are leading their own homes. If they’re not leading their own homes with excellence, why would you imagine they could lead an entire division of the ministry with excellence? That’s why it’s important to never overlook a potential leader’s children. They will always be one of the clearest signals to alert you to the kind of leader this person will be.
Their House or Apartment:
Paul wrote that a leader must be one that “…ruleth well his own house….” As already stated above, the word “house” refers to everything connected to home life. Part of home life is the physical house where the family lives. Therefore, it’s valid to ask:
- What kind of home does this potential leader have? Is it well-kept and maintained?
- Is it needlessly neglected? Does it look like it’s falling apart?
- Is the yard mowed so this candidate has a good testimony with his or her neighborhood?
What exactly did Paul mean when he said leaders must rule well their own homes? One thing is for sure: If a potential leader can’t decently take care of his own domain, you don’t want to put him in charge of your domain. That’s why this is such a serious question to consider when selecting someone for a prominent place of leadership in your church, ministry, or organization.
In regard to finances, the phrase “ruleth well his own house” leads me to ask, “How does this potential leader handle his money and the payment of monthly bills?”
How a person handles money is very revealing. It tells a lot about his personal integrity, his character, and how he respects the rights of others. When a person doesn’t regularly pay his bills on time, he inconveniences and upsets other people’s financial plans. This failure to keep financial commitments often reflects a lack of respect for others’ needs and rights.
It also may simply be a sign that this person is immature in his understanding of money management and responsibility. Or he may not do well at saying no to his fleshly lust for material things. A person’s financial problems may also be an indicator that he’s experiencing problems in his marriage as well. Or perhaps his life is unstable due to irregular work conditions.
No matter which of these factors may be the cause for a candidate’s financial problems, they are all serious enough to require thoughtful consideration on your part. Does this person have the time, energy, or maturity to handle a position of greater responsibility in your church, ministry, or organization?
Never forget that it is impossible to separate a person’s public life from his private life. What happens in one area spills over into the other. What is in a potential leader’s personal life is exactly what he will bring into his public life. If he has order and peace in his private life, it will give him a solid foundation for public ministry. But if he struggles with disorder, chaos, turmoil, confusion, upheaval, and anarchy in his private life, it will obviously affect his ability to carry on publicly as a leader.
What happens at home really does affect one’s ability to work, serve, and follow God’s will for his life. If this is the case, what do these things reveal about those people who are being considered for leadership at church, business, or organization? Does their home life show that they are ready for larger areas of responsibility?
And by the way — while you’re thinking about the home life of these leadership candidates, it would be good for you to turn these questions around and apply them to yourself. What does your home life reveal about YOU?
My Prayer for Today
Lord, help me bring order into my own personal life! Since what is happening in my private life is exactly what I will bring into my public life, I want to bring more order into my own personal affairs. Help me take an honest look at my life so I can see those areas that desperately need my attention. Once I acknowledge the areas that need fixing, please give me the courage to delve into those areas and to get things right. I want every area of my life to glorify You, so if there is a secret part of my life that doesn’t bring honor to You, I’m looking to You to help me make the needed changes.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that with God’s help, I am putting my house in order! The way I handle my family life, my children, my physical home, and my finances brings glory to Jesus Christ. I am serious about my walk with God, and I therefore invite Him to invade every sphere of my life and to bring it under His Lordship. Jesus is Lord of my marriage, my children, my home, and my money. It all belongs to Him; therefore, I want to be a wise steward for His sake — and I will!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. If you are seeking new leadership for the church, business, or organization, have you considered these deeper issues? If you had considered this before selecting leaders in the past, do you think it would have helped you make better leadership choices?
2. Have you seen glaring problems in a potential leader’s home that you overlooked because his gifts and talents were needed? Did you later regret your choice because he brought many of those same problems to his job?
3. After reading today’s Sparkling Gem, do you see areas in your own life that need attention? If your answer is yes, what are you going to do to start bringing order into those areas of your home life?