In Exodus 19:21 Jethro told Moses: “You shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.” From the very beginning of what may be considered one of the Bible’s first emphases on discipleship, the character of the leader was regarded as vital.
The men who were to be selected as leaders were not just to be “able” men, though that is of course important. However, it is of significance that the emphasis of the text was not as much on their teaching or leadership aptitude, but on their MORAL aptitude, as we see with the multiple terms used to describe the desired qualities: “fear God … men of truth … who hate dishonest gain.”
The same is true today. Pastors, teachers and discipleship leaders must not only be people who are capable in their gifts, but who also excel in their moral and spiritual practice. In fact, the emphasis of the text would indicate that these latter things, and not the teaching or leadership ability, are in fact the most important qualifications.