What to Look for in Potential Leaders: 4 Non-Negotiables

By Mark Hallock

“What should we be looking for in potential leaders for our church?”

This is a very important question, for so many reasons.

How you answer this question ultimately will shape the culture of your church, for good or bad, over the long haul. Your leaders will shape who your church is, what your church values, how your church operates and what your church is passionate about.

For this reason, if we truly desire to lead a Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, Spirit-led, people-loving, mission-minded, God-glorifying church, what we look for in leaders must, first and foremost, mirror what God looks for in leaders.

Sadly, I have observed many pastors and churches over the years that don’t start with the clear teaching of Scripture. Rather, they start with those characteristics that are most attractive to leadership success in the world. Things such as outside-the-box innovation, charismatic personality and TED-Talk communication ability, among many others. Hear me well, I’m not saying these things are in and of themselves “bad.” Indeed, they are not! Each of these can be used in incredible ways for the advancement of the gospel and the kingdom.

What I am saying is this: Don’t start there.

When looking for leaders, look first to what God says He wants, as given to us in Scripture. What you will quickly see is that God looks for different qualities in leaders than our world often does.

I have been asked many times over the years what characteristics we look for in potential leaders (both paid staff and volunteer leadership) at Calvary Church. We look for four non-negotiables. Each of these reflect what the Scripture teaches us over and over about what the Lord desires in His leaders in the local church.

1. A passion and hunger for God and at the same time a deep love and care for people. Jesus didn’t separate these two things and nor should we … especially as we look for godly leaders to serve God’s people in the local church.

2. A humble, servant heart. Is this individual eager and joyful about doing the tasks no one else wants to do? Are they quick to joyfully submit to others? Do they prefer being unnoticed for their service and good deeds, rather than being noticed and praised by others for them? This is a huge indicator of what is going on in the heart. True humility before God and people must be a non-negotiable.

3. A hard worker. Bottom line is that ministry is hard work and it takes much sacrifice—physically, spiritually and emotionally. If an individual is lazy or constantly making excuses, versus faithfully and joyfully working “as unto the Lord,” not only does this create tension among other leaders, but the congregation will lose respect for them and simply won’t follow their lead. A person must count the cost of ministry leadership and be willing to work hard for the glory of God and the good of the church.

4. A team player who encourages others. Is this person aligned with the vision, mission, doctrine and values, which are non-negotiables at Calvary Church? Do they seek to humbly work alongside others, encouraging the heck out of them, versus seeing them as a threat of some kind? At Calvary, we are a family and as leaders we must play as a team and lead as a team. A “Lone Ranger” is not what we are looking for in a leader. A fun, loving, encouraging, humble, hard working lover of Jesus and people is the kind of individual we want on our leadership team.

While perhaps others could be added, these four stand at the top of our church’s list. Hopefully this can be helpful to you if you lead a ministry and are trying to figure out the non-negotiables to be looking for in your leaders.

This post originally appeared at Mark’s blog, Preach Lead Love.

Published June 10, 2021

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Mark Hallock

Mark Hallock serves as the lead pastor of Calvary Church in Englewood, Colorado. He also serves as president of the Calvary Family of Churches, a group committed to planting and replanting churches for the glory of God (thecalvary.org). His great desire is to see the gospel transform lives and neighborhoods through the planting of new congregations, along with the revitalization of declining congregations, throughout the city of Denver and beyond. Mark’s favorite hobby is hanging out with his wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Zoe and Eli.