How do you see your pastor? Many people see pastors as some kind of elite position in the church. Certainly, it is a calling for which men are gifted by God. But it is not a position that allows men to become inflated. As a matter of fact, pride is one of the disqualifications for a pastor in 1 Timothy 3:6 “not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.” Having been in the church and in the ministry for a while, I have seen many people approach the qualifications for the Elder / Pastor office in 1 Timothy in pretty interesting ways. Having come from the more “fundamental” end of the Church, I have often seen it used more as a list for selective disqualification. In reality, it is a list of qualities that are commanded in all Christians, but are to be exemplified by the Elder / Pastor. It is not a call to perfection, but a call to exemplary growth and maturity. 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
1 Timothy 3:2-7 A bishop [overseer] then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
In this list of “qualifications” for the pastor we see character qualities that are commended to all Believers. It is not a list of, If you have ever done this you can’t be a pastor. It is interesting how some say that a divorce disqualifies a man from ever holding the office, but how greedy, angry men whose families are in disarray are fine. This is not really the point. The point is;
Am I above reproach or blameless? Does my life make people say, “How can he be a Christian?”
Am I dedicated to my wife (literally, a One-Woman-Man in the Greek)? Do I keep my needs for intimacy and sexuality within the confines of my marriage?
Am I temperate, sober-minded and of good behavior? Basically, am I under control in my situation, my emotions and thought life and my outward behavior?
Am I hospitable? That is, willing to share my time, space and resources to help and encourage God’s people?
Am I able to teach, showing that I have been called and gifted to the office?
Am I not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous? Basically, am I a spiritual man or a carnal man?
Most importantly, how are my relationships? How do I handle my own life and my household? Of all of the “qualifications” this is the most lengthy. While the others are a word or two, this one is two sentences. The others are pretty much demonstrated here. “one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Timothy 3:4-5) These verses not only show a character quality that is to be exemplified, but the relationship of the pastor to his church. He is not an elite master or just another guy in the congregation. He is like a dad to the family. In a position of leadership and authority, but he leads with love and a servants heart and generates respect.
Finally, not a novice or a new convert, but someone with a track record and some maturity.
He is also, one who has a good relationship with unbelievers. It would be interesting to interview the unbelieving friends, family and co-workers of a potential candidate for Elder / Pastor in the process of calling the man to the office. After all, unbelievers seem to know better how Christians are supposed to live than many Believers.
So the Elder / Pastor is not perfect. He is a man, but a mature man who is still growing. He is a man who is able to model Christian Character to the Flock. He is one who leads like a father. This is my goal as a Pastor, to be the man described here. I wish I was perfect at it, but I am not. Yet again, I can demonstrate maturity as I go again to the throne of grace to find help in time of need.
I hope that you see your pastor like this. I hope that you want to encourage him in his task by praying for, supporting and loving him, like you would your dad. I also pray that you want to demonstrate his influence in your life by showing the same fruit in your life that you expect him to show in his. I encourage you to check out the audio of this one and let me know what you think.