Holiness and Leadership



Randy and J. I. Packer

Trinity Evangelical


Just a quote from J. I. Packer that is relevant for all generations.


What do we Christians chiefly value in our leaders, our preachers, teachers, pastors, writers, televangelists, top people in parachurch ministries, money-men who bankroll churches and other Christian enterprises, and other folk with key roles in our set-up? The answer seems to be not their holiness, but their gifts and skills and resources. The number of North American leaders (and other Christians too) who in recent years have been found guilty of sexual and financial shenanigans, and who when challenged have declined to see themselves as accountable to any part of the body of Christ, is startling. Much more startling is the way in which, after public exposure and some few slaps on the wrist, they are soon able to resume their ministry and carry on as if nothing had happened, commanding apparently as much support as before. To protest that Christians believe in the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of sinners is beside the point. What I am saying is that the speed of their reinstatement shows that we value them more for their proven gifts than for their proven sanctity, since the thought that only holy people are likely to be spiritually useful does not loom large in our minds.

More than a century and a half ago, the Scottish parish minister and revival preacher Robert Murray McCheyne declared: “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.” It seems clear that neither modern clergy nor their modern flocks would agree with McCheyne’s assessment. In the past when your church has appointed a calling committee to hunt for the next pastor, I am sure that a very adequate profile of required gifts has been drawn up, but how much emphasis has been laid on the crucial need to find a holy man? Shall I guess?

Rediscovering Holiness pp. 33,34