When you are seeking additional people to serve as part of the church board, what aspect should receive most attention – skill, experience, character or attitude? Certainly Paul warns us not to ask a novice in the faith or someone who has not had experience in leading a family to fill this role. So experience is important. As well, Paul emphasizes specific elements of character that should be considered – gentleness, self-control, not a drunkard. Some skills are helpful, because Paul notes that the ability to teach is important for someone in such a leadership role.
But when all is said and done, probably attitude should hold first place. But having said that, we have to define what kind of attitude. I think the closest we come to defining the right attitude occurs in Philippians 2:1-5. Using Jesus as his example, Paul describes that kind of mindset or attitude that believers must exercise one to another. In this context he talks about love, humility and mutual submission (v. 4) and then illustrates this through the actions of the Messiah Jesus. Words like servant, humble, obedient define the attitude of Jesus in response to God’s will. Presumably, what is required for every believer must be exemplified in Christian leaders.
I think we find a similar clustering of attitudes in 1 Peter 5:1-5 – serving not lording, being examples, willingly involved. Then he says that every believer “must clothe himself in humility towards one another.”
What are the primary attitudes that will identify a believer whom the congregation can entrust with their spiritual leadership? Foundational is sacrificial love – for God and for others. Is this demonstrated consistently in the family, in the faith community, in dealings with non-believers? Humbleness comes a close second, i.e. discerning God’s view of him as a person, his giftedness, and his place in God’s program, and embracing this with joy, perseverance, and contentment. Thirdly, submission forms an essential ingredient – the ability to voluntarily rank oneself appropriately under God and in relationship to all others. For every person this will mean accountability to someone and leadership over another. Whatever the appropriate role, to accept it willingly and carry it forward in a loving, caring, serving manner will be the primary attitude to discern.
When the nominating committee starts its annual work, perhaps there should be some discussion about the desired attitude towards God and people that potential nominees must have, would be good. Often a person’s skills or experience will bring them to the attention of the nominating committee. But before concluding that such a person is suitable, consider their willingness to serve, their humbleness, their submission. Are these attitudes evident and the norm for them? Care taken on such matters will be time well spent for the good of the congregation.