The Book of Philippians is filled with expectations Paul had for that church, whom he considered partners in the Gospel (1:5), to function with Christ-like character and integrity. Whether paid or volunteer, our church staff need to exhibit the same. And so, we come to another staff expectation — the development of Christ-likeness.
Expectations for Christ-like Character & Integrity Undergirded by Prayer
Paul wasn’t promoting a self-improvement program for the Philippians but rather made it clear to them from the start where his confidence for them to function this way laid. — “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6) — He consequently undergirded this expectation with prayer.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Phil. 1:9-11)
How can we address a lack of Christ-like character and integrity in ministry staff if we haven’t been praying for them?
Why Expect Christ-like Character & Integrity in Church Staff
So much of what we do in ministry and within the Church ties into how we relate with one another and those we serve. Paul set an expectation for the Philippians to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil. 2:3-4).
Being able to relate to others in such a selfless way takes a certain kind of attitude or mindset — that of Christ Jesus.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Phil. 2:5-7)
When we demonstrate Christ-like character and integrity in the way we treat others, we stand in contrast to the world around us. Our light shines brighter.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Phil. 2:14-16)
Hence, for our church staff to properly relate to one another, in ways that advance rather than hinder God’s work, they need to become more and more Christ-like from the inside out.
Expect Growth in Christ-likeness, Not Perfection
Paul certainly wasn’t expecting the Philippians to be perfect. He admitted that he himself hadn’t arrived. — “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal …” (Phil. 3:12) — Likewise, in expecting Christ-like character and integrity in church staff, we must guard against making it seem like we expect them to be perfect.
Though not having yet arrived, Paul went on to say, “but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). Since we are all a work in progress, we must be clear that we aren’t expecting perfection but rather that our staff demonstrate a humble, teachable spirit, with a willingness to learn and grow.
Address When Staff Fail to Live Up to This Expectation
By the time we get to chapter four in the book of Philippians, Paul had laid sufficient groundwork for how conducting themselves in a “manner worthy of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27) tied into relating to one another with Christ-like character and integrity. Now Paul was ready to address the failure of two women he considered co-workers to live up to this expectation. He said,
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 4:2-3)
When believers fail to relate to one another with Christ-like character and integrity, it dims our light. We must not only communicate a need to keep growing in Christ-likeness but also step in with help and encouragement.