20 qualifications every Pastor must have-warning, it is NOT politically correct, but it is BIBLICALLY correct.

Posted: August 3, 2014 in Thoughts on God
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There are two biblical offices in the local church (Pastor and Deacon), both of which are chosen by the congregation.  Scripture uses the term pastor, elder, overseer, and bishop interchangeably to refer to one position (c.f. Pilippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-5).  These four terms indicate various features of leadership ministry, not varying levels of authority or separate offices.  The pastor (along with the servicing leadership of the deacons) provides spiritual and theological leadership in order to equip and build up the church.  As spiritual shepherds of the local church, pastors serve in developing (not dictating) church policy along with congregational input and affirmation (c.f. Acts 15:1-29); oversee the church (Acts 20:28); rule, teach, and preach (1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12); exhort and refute (Titus 1:9); and set the example as to what it means to shepherd the church (1 Peter 5:1-3).  The pastor provides spiritual oversight, theological direction and leadership, and is held accountable by the Elder Board, the church congregation in general and, ultimately, God Himself.

The apostle Paul wrote in his epistle to the Ephesians that Christ gave gifts to the church, one of which is gifted men—specifically pastors.  Paul wrote, “And He Himself gave…some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:12).  In Acts 20:17-38, the apostle Paul met with the elders from Ephesus and instructed them, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (vs.28).  The apostle Peter wrote, “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:1-4).

Pastors are men (not women) who provide spiritual leadership and theological guidance to the assembly of believers.  One of the primary means in which pastors do this is to preach and teach the Bible.  Through their pastoral ministry, elders serve God and the flock not as CEO’s but as shepherds, doing so following the example of the Chief Shepherd.  It is the function and responsibility of the local church congregation to receive this pastoral service/leadership as from God and to submit to those who lead the church as pastors/elders/overseers.  For example, after exhorting elders to shepherd the flock among them, Peter then wrote, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders” (1 Peter 5:5).  Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).  The writer to the Hebrews wrote, “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct” (Hebrews 13:7).  The writer then further exhorted the church to “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.  Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).

The main passages outlining the qualifications of a pastor/elder/overseer/bishop are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9; both of which are nearly identical lists.  The qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (NKJV) entail the following:

1)   “any man” – A pastor is to be a man, not a woman (“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” 1 Timothy 2:11-12).

2)  “desires the position” – Two different Greek words are used to refer to this desire/aspire attitude  (the second word is found in #3 below).  This first Greek word for “desires” refers to external action and involves pursuing tangible things in order to be found qualified for this office.

3)   “desires a good work” – This second Greek word for “desires” refers to the inward motivation/desire a man must have in order to be qualified for this office.  He must internally desire the office and not merely be nominated by others for the office.

4)  “must be blameless” – The words “must be” are included, stressing the fact that what follows is absolutely necessary.  Being “blameless” (“above reproach”) literally means “not to be held” in a criminal sense.  This is the most important character qualification for the pastor, and the list of qualifications that follow elaborates on what it means to be “blameless.”  There is to be no unrepentant sin that can be publicly named or pointed to in which the church or civil community is aware of.  It doesn’t mean he is sinless or has never sinned, but that he can’t be held in contempt, either criminally, morally, socially, or ethically.

5)  “husband of one wife” – This literally means to be a “one-woman man”.  It’s not referring to his marital status but to his sexual purity.  It doesn’t mean he can never have been widowed or be single, for example, but that he is to be solely devoted to one woman if (and while) married.  This qualification comes immediately after the necessity of being “blameless” because the area of sexual purity is where many church leaders fail and, thus, become disqualified to serve as pastors.

6)  “temperate” – Literally means to be “wineless,” but is here being used metaphorically and means to be “alert” or “watchful” or “clear-headed.”  The pastor needs to have a “good head” on his shoulders and be watchful for things that might creep into his congregation, such as sexual sin, heresy, or false teachers.

7)  “sober-minded” – He is to be a serious man who knows how to order his priorities.

8)  “of good behavior” – Means to be “orderly”…as opposed to being chaotic or disorganized.

9)  “hospitable” – Means to have a “love of strangers.”  The pastor must set the example about how to be open and available for others, always being ready to be social and receptive of Christians and non-Christians alike.

10)  “able to teach” – The only qualification referring to the pastor’s spiritual giftedness/ability, and the only one that distinguishes the office of pastor from that of deacon.  Preaching and teaching God’s Holy Word is the primary responsibility of the pastor in the local church.

11)  “not given to wine” – Not a regular drinker of alcohol.  The pastor must never consume alcohol because he could be called on at any time of the day or night to perform his duties and, therefore, his judgment must never be clouded by alcohol.

12)  “not violent” – Literally, “not a giver of blows.”  A pastor is to be a humble, patient man who is calm and gentle and doesn’t react with physical violence.

13)   “not greedy for money” – He is not in the ministry to make money, and earning money is not his motivation for ministry or service.  The stress is on not being “greedy,” so the pastor is not to be concerned about money since the Lord will take care of his daily needs.

14)  “gentle” – Means to be gracious, quick to forgive; does not hold a grudge.

15)  “not quarrelsome” – Seeks for peace; reluctant to fight or argue.

16)  “not covetous” – The pastor’s desire is to be for the love of God and His people, not for the love of money, possessions or position.  A covetous man demonstrates a lifestyle/attitude that is not blameless.

17)  “one who rules his own house well” – The pastor’s home life (as well as his personal life) must be well-ordered, not chaotic.  This refers to his relationship with his wife, any children, and all things connected with his home life.  A divorced man shows no sign of ruling his own home well and, therefore, would not qualify to be a pastor.

18)  “having his children in submission with all reverence” – A pastor must have the respect of his children and they must be well-behaved.  This does not mean that a man must have children in order to be a pastor, but if he does have any children then they must be submissive to him and his authority over them.

19)   “not a novice” – Not a new convert.  A newly converted Christian is not mature in the faith and his spiritual leadership would be inadequate, resulting in a prideful, destructive ministry.  Pastors are to be spiritually mature, possessing a solid understanding and right application of the Scriptures.

20)  “must have a good testimony among those who are outside” – A pastor must have a good reputation with the surrounding community he lives and ministers in, particularly when it comes to unbelievers.  Although non-Christians may disagree with his morals or spiritual beliefs, he must be respected as an honest, caring person (good testimony).


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  1. Joseph says:

    Thank You….I will continue to follow your post.

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