Competency vs Character (1 Timothy 1:19,20)

Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God. (1 Timothy 1:19,20)

When we start out as leaders for the first time, the thing we're most afraid of is being labelled "incompetent". Failure is hard enough to cope with but having our failure made evident for young people to see can appear crushing.

Of course we can always try to hide our incompetency but a more positive approach is to look for ways to improve our competency. We ask the youth pastor or other leaders for suggestions and perhaps attend training or seek out online articles or videos.

We buy into the belief that our competency determines our capacity - the more competent we are the more we will be able to accomplish and the more young people will be impressed by us.

Yet there is something more important than competency when it comes to determining our capacity and that is character.

You may spend hours investing in young people but if you have not learnt patience and self-control, an angry outburst can destroy in seconds what takes months to develop. Similarly an unwise social media post or a photo someone tags you in may damage in seconds a reputation that has taken months to develop.

Hymenaeus and Alexander were people of influence in the Church at Ephesus. No doubt they came to prominence through competency. Yet ultimately, character let these two men down and their names are forever recorded as examples of those who violated their conscience.

Competency might impress those you lead in the short term but character will be what they remember about you. 

Character develops when we keep our conscience clean. It is most evident when the person young people think you are, matches who you really are.


All of us have faults and at times do and say things we're ashamed of. The way to grow in character is to spend time with Jesus and fill your minds with things that make you a better person. In what ways does who you are in private not match the person young people think you are? What activities or people influences you toward thinking and acting this way? What would it mean in practical terms to replace these influences with things that bring you closer to Jesus?