Before Nehemiah registers the families that have returned from exile, he places someone in charge of Jerusalem and the shutting of that city’s gates. This person, Hanani, is placed in charge because “because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.” Character mattered to Nehemiah. He could not imagine charging someone with great responsibility unless they had great integrity and feared God.

In the New Testament, when we read about the qualifications for elders in the church, the only competency mentioned is ability to teach (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:9). Otherwise, all the qualifications relate to the content of the leader’s values and practices. Sadly, in many churches, skills, competency, and charisma often trump character when people choose their leaders.

The church desperately needs to recognize and recover God’s priorities for leaders, for we become like those we follow and esteem.