Virtues of good work, monogamy, vigilance, sobriety, good behaviour, hospitality, readiness to teach, lack of greed and patience are some of the virtues that Paul in the book of Timothy says should be the hallmark of any man who aspires to lead a church. A bishop should not be a brawler; not covetous, and should rule well in his own house: For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?
The leader should not be a novice, “lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” and “he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil”.
One would be tempted to think that certain church leaders hoist themselves to be the very antithesis of the above-conceived leader.
It has been disturbing of late to be reading week in and out of pastors alleged to have committed different crimes which is a sin to God, especially when proven guilty.
The behaviour by some of these pastors has an effect on the sheep they are shepherding, especially those that have just accepted Jesus Christ as their saviour. It also has a negative effect on the churches they lead.
Churches seem to be interpreting the word of God in different ways. Some churches, for example, allow practices such as pastors sleeping with young girls before they are handed over to their preferred husbands.
Some leaders have been caught having recorded sex with groups of women from their church, which is not only a sin before God but also against the laws of the country.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) recently raised concern over increasing reports of unethical and immoral acts, including rape, perpetrated by certain sections of the church leadership and clergy.
EFZ noted that freedom of worship was constitutionally guaranteed and should be enjoyed by all Zimbabweans but that there were individuals with charisma who were lacking the character of Jesus.
These individuals have excited many with the word of God but are walking a path contrary to the word they preach.
Reverend Lindani Dube, EFZ general secretary, indicated that: “There is a general expectation of how servants of God ought to conduct themselves. This is primarily defined by the infallible word of God which is the standard of our Christian faith and conduct, coupled, of course, with our societal values of ubuntu/hunhu behaviour”.
He noted that servant leadership entails that the man of God should serve the sheep as an accountable steward to God without seeking to exploit, abuse or take advantage of their vulnerability but rather through empowering individuals to attain self-actualisation in Christ.
He also emphasised that serving God is a calling of self-denial and pursuit of transformational behaviour which seeks to emulate Jesus Christ in all areas of life being motivated by Christ’s greatest commandments which state that, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
In these two commandments the Lord deems that the fulfilment of the whole law is attained.
Also on the loose are individuals that have taken advantage of the mushrooming of churches and set up gospel- inclined money-making schemes with an agenda for self-enrichment, leading to most individuals innocently giving their hard-earned gains to the church leader than to the fair cause of the gospel.
Some of these leaders should be role models to many and they inspire young and old people within and outside their churches. Apart from just preaching the world church leaders should reflect certain biblical qualities that qualify them to be leaders who can have a total oversight on their flock, the Bible says make the tree good, then its fruit also will be good.
The EFZ is spot on in urging well to do churches to seek affiliation with established and tested church umbrella bodies like the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Zimbabwe Catholics Bishops Conference and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe to ensure corporate accountability and ethical conduct.
Church leaders are deemed to be the salt of the earth. But, as the Bible asks, if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?
“It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and tramped under people’s feet.”