J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

There is No Such Thing as a Higher Standard

higher standardWhile contemplating Godly church leadership and preparing for the upcoming Sovereign King series, “Lead, Follow, and Getting Out of the Way,” I’ve bumped into a few myths about Godly leadership.  In fact, what I want to do is dispel one commonly held myth – one in which many of you might hold.

As we look at those 3 categories of requirements 1 Timothy 3 (Holiness in Personal Life vss 2-3, Godly management of one’s household vss 4-5, and Spiritual maturity vss 6-7), we need to understand this:  elders and overseers, pastors, and deacons are not held to higher standard than anyone else in Christianity.  They are held to the very same standard to which every believer is held.  Let me explain.

There is no such thing as a higher or lower standard or higher or lesser righteousness Biblically.  God has commanded us how to live in the scriptures in accord with His character.  So, there can be no higher obedience than what God has commanded.  If there was a higher standard, then that would be what God commanded.

Let me use the most common example to illustrate how people think about this…drinking alcohol.  Scripturally there is no evidence whatsoever that a drink of alcohol is sinful.  In fact it is commanded by Paul to Timothy, exemplified by Jesus, and even commended in Proverbs 31.  Now some folks will say, “Well drunkenness is a sin, so I’m never going to drink alcohol.”  That is a perfectly fine application, and I support it wholeheartedly.  Rock on.  But that application is not a higher righteousness.  If not drinking at all was the level of righteousness that Jesus wanted, He would have commanded us to not drink at all.

People have this impression of officers though.  They think they should be held to some fictional higher level obedience.  Folks, obeying what God has commanded is hard enough.  Obeying any extra rules is impossible and even counterproductive.  No, the elder, deacon, pastor, and overseer are judged presently for their character whereas most people in the church are not judged at all for their character unless their actions rise to the level of church discipline.

The officer though lives their Christian life for the world to see and evaluate.  In essence, the occupation of the church officer is the occupation of being a believer.  The job of an officer is to be a Christian.

Essentially, in nominating, training, and ordaining officers, you are looking for people who are radically being changed into the image of Christ.  They are not meeting an ever moving higher standard than the rest of the Christian world.  They are living up to the standard to which all believers are called to live.  Find those men within the context of your church’s mission and theological convictions, and you will find your officers

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner.

Related article:  Lead, Follow, and Getting Out of the Way

October 15, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,


  1. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

    You are right: the job of godly leaders is to simply be a Christian. They become leaders because they display the standard that is to be all of ours.

    Comment by Luke Gilkerson | October 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. Good stuff! Looking forward to Sunday

    Comment by Nick Ferrell | October 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. Good post. Thanks for sharing.

    I enjoyed meeting you last year at Catalyst and have since begun studies at RTS. Hope you are well!

    Comment by Dave Hess | October 15, 2009 | Reply

    • Dave, glad you started classes. Let me know if I can help.

      Comment by jgordonduncan | October 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. Great stuff Gordon!

    Comment by Aaron Anderson | October 21, 2009 | Reply

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