10 Signs your Christian Leader is Failing the Biblical Standard
There is a Biblical standard when it comes to being an elder, pastor or teacher. While it is impossible to be perfect in maintaining the standard 100% of the time, some pastors just do not care about the Biblical instructions and neither do their leadership.
I should also mention this doesn’t just apply to pastors; it applies to every single person who teaches in the name of God. Meaning authors, Sunday school teachers and speakers are also held accountable to this standard.
#1 Wasting time on Useless Controversy
“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than stewardship from God that is by faith.”
–1 Timothy 1:3–4 (ESV)
The first point Paul calls into question is teaching different doctrine. While that point will be covered more in number six, it does tie in to wasting time on useless controversies and myths. Google the super shemitah and the four blood moons and you will see all kinds of extra–biblical teachings that border on mythology and promote speculations as opposed to stewardship in Christ.
#2 Teaching we aren’t Sinners
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
–1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)
Teaching we are not sinners is a very arrogant thing to say. Paul, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the majority of the New Testament, healed the sick, raised the dead and was eventually martyred for his faith and obedience to Christ said he was the foremost sinner. Paul on his worst day is still a better example than 90% of most Christians are on their best days. On top of this you also insinuate that you do not need salvation since Christ came to forgive sinners. John the disciple takes it a step further in 1 John. John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” –1 John 1:8 (ESV) By the Biblical standard any pastor who says this is a liar and has no truth in him.
#3 Failing to Study the Word
“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
–1 Timothy 4:7–8 (ESV)
Failing to study the Word to deliver on Sunday morning is not a good sign. If your Pastor almost regularly says they didn’t have time to prepare a message it’s time to switch Churches. Pastors are to train in Biblical research and in showing kindness towards others. More on that point in 6 as well.
#4 Failing to set the Example
“Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
–1 Timothy 4:11–12 (ESV)
Setting the example as a leader is possibly one of the most crucial things. It’s important enough as a Christian. When you’re a Christian other’s general expectations of you are raised. If you’re a Christian leader their expectations skyrocket. Most non–Christians would turn a blind eye at stronger language but if you’re being insensitive or crass that will reflect poorly not only on you but the Church as a whole, the specific ministry you are a leader in and most importantly a person’s perception of Christ.
In addition to the drawbacks of negative evangelism there are other drawbacks within the Church. If the Pastor, preacher, teacher, or whatever is failing to be an example in conduct by visiting the sick and the widows, being a comforter to the oppressed, being a giver to the needy then what incentive is there for those who are following them to do these things? The Scriptures make it clear Paul never wanted pastors to be hypocrites who tell those that follow them to do things they aren’t actively doing themselves.
#5 Closed Bible “Preaching”
“Until I come devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
–1 Timothy 4:13 (ESV)
One of my biggest pet peeves is closed Bible preaching. There’s nothing in the world quite as painful as someone who claims to believe and confess the Word of God and to say it is the most important book (It would be taboo to say otherwise in a Church of course) but never actually open it from the pulpit or platform or stage or whatever they call it now. To an outsider visiting the Church that screams we only use the Bible as a good luck charm or as a defusal to justify controversial worldviews and politics. If the Bible were the most important book it would be read and taught within context from the pulpit.
#6 Doctrine is a Secondary Issue
“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
–1 Timothy 4:16 (ESV)
Here is by far the heaviest burden of being a teacher. This is also the main reason why leaders need to study the Bible to know what the standard of teaching is. Moving on to the meat of the matter, there is a defusal technique used by many Christians but leaders especially. This is when they say doctrine takes a backseat in priority to loving others. The irony is, this statement is of itself a doctrine that takes priority over loving their critics. The fact is Paul taught that doctrine is a primary issue. Logically, Jesus’ teaching that we should love others as he loved us is a doctrinal statement.
#7 Anti–confrontational/ Closed off from Rebuke
“As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that they may stand in fear.”
–1 Timothy 5:20 (ESV)
This is actually more of a general thing and could easily become an article in of itself than just applying leaders. The reason I included it is that there are a growing number of leaders who are closed off from criticism. They will block you if you contact them on the internet or ban you from their congregation if you call them out in the Church. Some Church’s welcome cards actually warn you that if you do not like the teaching you have to leave; you cannot challenge them. Yet Paul teaches that if someone persists in sin rebuke them in the presence of all.
#8 Godliness is a means of Gain
“Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”
–1 Timothy 6:2–5 (ESV)
Teaching Biblical principles as a means of gain is a very common thing nowadays. I call them the over glorified self–help lectures. They essentially take a Biblical virtue like say “mercy” and they spin it in a way that it no longer teaches to forgive as Christ has forgiven us but instead saying things like “Unforgiveness is like drinking a poison and expecting the other person to die.” Besides the fact that by this strain of logic God is now the most toxic being in the universe (because Hell is biblically a place for all the unforgiven) it now changes the motive from doing good for Christ to doing good for gain which is not Biblical.
#9 Feeding Vain Ambitions
“But those who desire to be rich fall into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
–1 Timothy 6:9 (ESV)
Along the same vein as the previous section creating sermons for “vision” and “purpose” removes the desire to be content with what God has given us. In fact there are instances of Christians hurting themselves financially and even emotionally chasing after dreams and visions, whereas had they remained content the problem would not have presented itself.
#10 Failing to Devote themselves to Good Works
“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”
–Titus 3:8 (ESV)
Tying in with the section on setting the example if the leader is not doing good works they aren’t holding to Paul’s instructions in the Pastoral epistles. They, Biblically, should be caring for the sick, the elderly, widows, orphans, etc.
The reason I wrote this article was to challenge people to critically evaluate their Christian leaders. Many of them claim to believe the Bible but teach and act contradictory to the Word of God. You may think your Christian leader is great and amazing but that doesn’t mean they’re following the instructions of Paul. In fact, you may find your own ideals of a Christian leader is flawed. If you teach in any capacity you need to read this and critically examine yourself.