The Pastor - Qualifications



The Pastor - Who is He? Part Two


We began our study with the purpose of determining who the pastor is and what he is called to do. Because there are so many differing views and opinions regarding this matter, we have determined to go the Bible and see what God has to say on this matter. Since God is the One who created the position of the pastor and He is the one who calls men to fill that position, He is the best source to turn to in exploring this matter.

We began our study last time by asking who is a pastor. What type of individual does God call to pastor local congregations? Though there are differences in pastors and no two are alike in personality, giftedness, and experience, yet there are some criteria that can be found in all who are called by God for this purpose. Last time we focused on the first criteria. We will quickly review it and then move on too additional criteria.

1) The First Criteria: the pastor is a believing man who has been called by God to pastor a local congregation (Eph. 4:11). The call to the pastorate does not originate in the will of man but comes as a direct commission of God. Because of the many difficulties that are common to the pastorate, it will take God’s call burning within the heart of a man if he is going to endure and complete this task for God. (for more on this subject see last weeks edition under Bible study Aids)

2) Secondly, the pastor is a male: I know this is not “politically correct” and some may know of a woman who is very successful as a pastor. Let it be known here that the issue is not whether a woman has the ability to pastor. There are women who seem to have this ability possibly even more than some believing men. However, the issue lies not in ability but in the sovereign decision of God. God has stated that He calls only males to be pastors. If this is God’s sovereign decision than we are responsible to accept His decision whether we agree with it or not. Remember God is not “politically correct.” He is not answerable to any one but Himself. God makes this decision very clear in the Scriptures.

a. 1 Cor. 11:3, Paul writes, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” This passage clearly marks out the order of authority in the Church. The authority goes as follows. Christ is answerable to the Father, the male leadership of the church is answerable to Christ, and the women of the church are answerable to the male leadership of the church. Paul goes on in this chapter to further illustrate this point by discussing the importance of the head covering in relationship to the order of authority (v. 4-15)

b. 1 Cor. 14: Paul addressing spiritual gifts writes, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” We need the context of this passage to understand what was being stated. This does not imply, as one congregation I heard of, that women are not to pray, sing, read scripture, or verbalize anything during a worship service. What this does address is the process of judging prophecies. If some one share a prophecy, a revelation from God, during a worship service, the men of the congregation were to test it to be sure it was from God (1 John 4:1-3). The test had to do with whether the prophecy lined up with previous revelation from God. If the new prophecy contradicted existing Scriptures and the teaching of the Apostles, the prophecy was to be rejected (Gal. 1:7-9). This responsibility was given to the men of the congregation as they were to take the leadership and authority in matters pertaining to teaching and preaching.

c. 1 Tim. 2:11-15, Paul continues this theme when he speaks of the role of the preaching or teaching in the church. The women is to “learn in silence” and she is not to “preach or teach” because to do so is to place her in authority over the men in the congregation. If a woman is not allowed to teach or preach in a regular worship service which is the responsibility of the pastor, then a woman can not be a pastor. Paul continues on by saying that this is not due to a lack of equality but rather due to the order of Creation and the woman’s role in the fall of mankind. Therefore, she may teach other women and children, but she is not to teach men.

d. 1 Tim. 3:2-5, Paul makes it even clearer that the pastor is to be a male. The term “Bishop” as used in verse 1 means literally “overseer” thus addressing the pastor of the congregation. To hold this position the pastor must be a “one woman man”. This phrase has been often interpreted to mean that the overseer must be monogamous and thus could speak of either a woman or a man. However, this can not be a correct interpretation for several reasons.

i. The preceding context, 2:11-15, clearly indicates that a woman can not be the preacher or pastor of a church because she would have to usurp authority over the man. For Paul now to say a pastor could be a woman or a man would be to contradict what he has just written.

ii. If monogamy was the only idea in the mind of Paul he could have used terms to express that idea. However, he uses to words that are gender specific. The word “woman” literally means a woman who is married. Though there are times it is used of a single woman, in any case it is always used of women and women only. Likewise, the word “man” here usually speaks of a married man, however it too is used to address single men as well. It is always used to speak of someone of the male gender only. It is never used in the universal idea of “manhood.”

iii. Thirdly, it is said of the pastor that he “rules his household well with his children in submission.” (4-5). In light of Ephesians 5:25-6:4, it is clear that this responsibility falls to the husband or father. So important is this qualification that it is to be used a gauge as to whether a man is qualified to hold the position of pastor.

e. Titus 1:6, Paul gives the qualifications of the “overseer” once again and as in 1 Tim. uses gender specific words and speaks of the authority over the household and children.

3) Thirdly, the pastor is a moral man: 1 Tim. 3:2 and Titus 1:6 indicate that the pastor is a man who is committed to one woman only. Some see this to mean that the pastor must be married however to take this position one would also have to hold that the pastor must have children as well. Paul’s main point is that the pastor, if he is married, is married to one woman and he is committed to make that relationship last a lifetime. It is my conviction that this means that the pastor has not been divorced but has remained true to the first and only wife he has married. The only exception to this is if the pastor’s wife has died and he has remarried which is permitted by God.

4) Fourthly, the pastor is godly man: 1 Tim. 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-9 indicate that the Pastor must be a man who is committed to Christ and holy (separated living). This does not mean that the pastor must be sinless nor does it mean he must be perfect. What it does mean is that he lives by the highest standards set by God. This is important for he is to communicate the Christian walk to his congregation both in word and in deed. The following are listed as qualifications

a. Blameless: in other words he has a flawless reputation among the believer and non-believer a like.

b. Temperate: the idea here is serious in his judgments. In other words the pastor is one who takes his job seriously, fulfilling the job and responsibilities God has given him.

c. Sober minded: the idea here is to be of a sound mind. He not only has a good knowledge of what the Scripture says but also has good practical sense to make good judgments and right decisions.

d. Of good behavior: he is a man who is organized or orderly. There is no room in the pastorate for continual confusion of unaccomplished plans and unorganized activity.

e. Hospitable: the root word means to love strangers. He is one who is already to help others and to show compassion.

f. Able to teach: he should have the ability to clearly present the Word of God in a form that is not only easy to grasp but also practical to everyday living.

g. Not given to wine: the idea here is not a drunkard. The pastor is not to be addicted to anything but should be a man of moderation

h. Not violent: he has a slow fuse. He is a man that takes a lot before he looses his temper.

i. Not greedy for money: he does not love money. This is not an indication that a pastor is called to living in poverty. He is not to live with the accumulation of wealth as his primary goal.

j. Gentile: patient in dealing with other, particularly those who are difficult to get along with.

k. Not quarrelsome: he is not one who is constantly stirring up trouble.

l. Not covetous: one who has learned to be content his present place (Phil. 4:10-13).

m.One who has his house in order: he is the head of his marriage and his family

n. One who has his children in submission: this speaks of children that are living still living at home. One of the mistakes too many pastors make is that they get so caught in all the responsibilities of the job that they neglect their marriage and their families.

o. Not a novice: He is a mature Christian. This is determined by more factors than just the length of time he has been a Christian but also degree growth he has demonstrated since accepting Christ.

p. Good report among the unbelievers: for example, he pays his bills on time, returns what he borrows, he is a good neighbor, he has a good Christian testimony.

In light of what we have learned, we can say that the pastor is a male Christian, who has a God given call to be a pastor. He is committed only to his wife and lives a godly life that would be a good example for others to follow.

Since the requirements of a pastorate are so high, it is not a light thing to consider. Likewise, those he ministers too should recognize this man’s difficult task and be a source of support, encouragement, and assistance (1 Tim. 5:17-20). Whether he likes it or not, the pastor lives in a “fish bowl” where all that he does is critiqued and often questioned. Many of the criticisms made against him are the very things that the critic would not be willing to follow if he was a pastor. As a pastor’s child I was not allowed to do some of the things that the other kids in church did because that was not “appropriate” for a pastor and his family. However, if one looks at the qualifications of the pastor, they are the same qualifications for the most part every Christian should live by.

Since criticism seems to come all too often and rumors and gossip, Paul makes it very clear that no accusations against a pastor should be considered unless there are at least 2 or 3 eye witnesses who are willing to come forth and testify (1 Tim. 5:19-20). 

The next time you hear someone running down your pastor, ask them how they know it to be true and if they have approached the pastor about it. After all, if they are concerned enough about to mention it to someone else, then they have a God given responsibility to go to the pastor as well (Matt. 18:15).