Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Values for Young Church Leaders (Part 2): Character Over Personality



My 27th birthday is quickly approaching in September. That's puts me squarely in my late-20s, and one step closer to being 30. I know, I know, that's not very old at all. Which is my point. There are hundreds of leaders in the church between the ages of 18 and 30 still figuring out how to lead well. I was thrust into my first full-time ministry role at the ripe old age of 21, which forced me to learn a ton.

I certainly haven't arrived, but I've got enough scars and calluses along the way to share some values young church leaders need to embrace. This next week, I'll unpack 5 of these values.


Value #2: Build character over personality.


What I'm calling "personality" is the subjective and unique parts of who you are, i.e. the stuff of personality quizzes and why your friends like you. It's your likes and dislikes, your hobbies, your basic temperament. Character, on the other hand, is made from objective qualities built around Jesus-y values. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control etc. Don't read this wrong: personality is not inherently bad or unhealthy. We all have personalities, and that's a great thing. Yet leaders in the church can begin to get into trouble when they are building a ministry around their personality and not their character.


Leading from personality can do the following:

  • The worship pastor with excellent musical skills and a trendy wardrobe, yet is a selfish jerk in rehearsals and never prays for his/her team.
  • The youth pastor that all the students think is so funny and cool and exciting, yet rarely talks about Scripture (because he/she hasn't really read the Bible in awhile).
  • The lead pastor who can keep a congregation engaged with his fantastic oratory skills and illustrations, yet is having an unhealthy relationship with his administrative assistant.
  • The intern who seems eager and ambitious and a natural leader, yet shows up an hour late to meetings unprepared (if they show up at all).
  • The children's ministry volunteer who faithfully serves every week with the preschoolers, yet is harboring deep-rooted bitterness towards their spouse.

Based only on personality, you can still look like a great leader on the outside...until a situation arises where character and integrity must come into play. Building character and integrity requires the hard work of discipline, self-control, accountability, and being mentored by a mature leader who has character (more on that later this week). It's like building a skyscraper--the foundation is your character, while the frame and building are your personality. No matter how amazing and majestic that tower of glass and metal looks on the outside, if the foundation of character is shaky, it'll eventually fall. I feel like Jesus once talked about something like that.


Take a moment: compare your personality and your character. Which one have you been building?


This is part 2 of a week-long series on young leaders in the church. Read Part 1 here.

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