Character vs. Competency

What would you rather have more of, character or competency? Before you make a choice, it would be a good idea to find out which of those items is more important to God. Let’s first define what we mean by these terms. In this article we will define character as moral constitution of a person. Competency is fitting, suitable, or sufficient for the purpose. So in other words, who do you want on your team or leading you? The competent guy who does the job better than anyone or the character guy who is an all around good guy? Well, what we decide is not what matters. We need to base our decisions on what God would want or do. Looking at scripture I think the answer is very obvious.

One example of this character versus competency debate can be found in the story of Moses. Was Moses the most competent person God could choose to lead Israel out of Egypt? For one thing Moses was not a very eloquent speaker (Exodus 4:10). Moses also had doubt in his own ability to lead Israel (Exodus 4:13). But none of that mattered to God, He chose Moses despite his competency issues. God was able to find a way to overcome the issues Moses had with competence. God used Aaron, Moses’ brother, to help Moses overcome his competency issue in speaking (Exodus 4:14-16). What was it that led God to choose Moses? Notice what it says in Hebrews 11:24-28. Here we read that Moses was a man of faith. He chose to be mistreated rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin. He was faithful and true to God and that is what character is all about. As we can see in the example of Moses, God chose character over competence.

Another example to look at is the struggle between David and Goliath. Goliath was much more competent for hand-to-hand conflict than David. He was bigger and mightier than David and he had more experience in fighting. But David was able to prevail over him because David had faith and character. David knew God had the power to overcome Goliath (I Samuel 17:45). David overcame Goliath with a sling and a stone. He didn’t fight Goliath with a sword and armor. Once again God was able to use someone who was not the most competent person available for the task at hand. God was able to use David’s skill (sling and stones) to overcome a greater opponent. What was it about David that led God to choose him as King? Once again it was David’s character. Notice in I Samuel 13:14, Samuel tells Saul his kingship will not endure. God had decided to choose another (David) to take over the throne from Saul. As this scripture tells us, it was because David was a man after God’s own heart.

There are other examples in the Old Testament that show how God used the less competent to reveal His power. We can cite the nation of Israel as an example. God began to work with them when they were a slave nation living in Egypt (Exodus 1:10-11). God chose Gideon to lead even though his clan was the weakest in Manasseh and Gideon was the least in his family (Judges 6:15). As we can see the evidence is in your Bible that God is not most interested in choosing the most competent. Let’s try to understand why.

Notice in Matthew 11:25 what Jesus says about those who understand God’s truth. He tells us that the wise and learned do not understand. He likens those who understand as being little children. Once again the wise and learned would be considered competent if we are comparing them to little children. But what is it about little children that God is choosing them over the wise and learned. Little children will trust you, believe you and follow you. Little children are morally pure. They have not learned or been exposed to the ways of the world yet. The wise and learned can often be too full of themselves to listen.

Another scripture that needs to be part of this discussion is I Corinthians 1:26-31. Here we learn that God chooses more of the less competent in the world to confound the competent. This is because God does not want anyone to boast before Him. God is in charge and in control. Being caught up in wisdom and position in this world can become an idol taking us away from God. In I Corinthians 3:18 the same thoughts are repeated.

In Ezekiel 28:1-10 we read a prophecy against the King of Tyre. The King thought of himself as a god because of his wisdom and understanding. Through his competence in worldly matters he was able to amass great wealth. This led to him becoming prideful about himself. Because of this God brought a violent death upon him.

What matters most to God is not how competent you are, but how much character you have. God wants to bring people into His kingdom that will follow Him and His ways. It is sometimes difficult for those with great competence to follow. It is not wrong or bad to be competent, but on our priority list character should be higher than competence.