Having emphasized the importance of prayer as a "first of all" priority (2:1) Paul moves into the qualifications for leaders din the church. That is a natural progression in light of what the pastor of prayer E.M. Bounds wrote about leaders:
Prayer is the mightiest agent to advance God’s work. Only praying hearts and hands can do God’s work. Prayer succeeds when all else fails. Prayer has won great victories and rescued, with notable triumph, God’s saints when every other hope was gone. Men who know how to pray are the greatest boon God can give to earth. They are the richest gift earth can offer heaven. Men who know how to use this weapon of prayer are God’s best soldiers, His mightiest leaders.
Praying men are God’s chosen leaders. The distinction between the leaders that God brings to the front to lead and bless His people and those leaders who owe their position of leadership to a worldly, selfish, unsanctified selection is this: God’s leaders are preeminently men of prayer. Prayer distinguishes them and is the simple, divine attestation of their call, the seal of their separation by God. Whatever other graces or gifts they may have, the gift and grace of prayer towers above them all. In whatever else they may share or differ, in the gift of prayer they are one. 
I begin this section with the reminder of how important prayer is to leadership because when we study through this chapter and see the qualifications set out by Paul for leadership it can be a source of great intimidation to the one who desires to be a leader in God's church. Attempting to live by the qualifications of leadership found in this chapter without prayer and in one's own strength will inevitably result in frustration, futility and failure. Prayer is a declaration of dependence on God. God's callings are His enablings. God never calls us to something He won't enable us to do. If we find we are unable it means we either misinterpreted God's calling or we are prayerless and not depending on God. Being a leader apart from prayer is a daunting and discouraging endeavor. If there is any hope of living by the leadership qualifications listed in this chapter it is found in full surrender before God and a steadfast declaration of dependence on Him in prayer. The leader that wants to be mighty, greatly used by God to accomplish His will for His glory must first and foremost be a leader who prays.
Another introductory word should be stated on the application of these leadership qualifications. Paul specified in 1 Timothy 2 that "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man" (2:12). In 1 Timothy 3 we continue the context of ministry in the church. In the church Paul prohibits women teaching men or being in a position of authority over men. (Remember, this is in regards to the spiritual workings within the church not the secular circumstances found in the world.) While in chapter 3 the emphasis is on men as leaders it should be noted that women have opportunity to serve as leaders in areas of ministry where they can lead and not cross the line of Paul's prohibition. Ministry to women needs women leaders. Ministry to children is another area where women can lead.
These leadership qualifications have an application outside the church too in that the character qualities mentioned by Paul in this chapter will really benefit and bless leaders and those they lead wherever they are applied. If you want to be a good leader and if you especially want to be a good leader that brings glory to God, then apply these 1 Timothy 3 leadership qualifications to your life.
The Qualifications of Bishop
1 Timothy 3 (NKJV)
This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop 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.
Who is a leader? What makes them leadership material especially in the church? What qualities should a pastor have? What about a church leader or church Board member? What qualities and characteristics make a leader a good leader in the sight of God. These verses answer present us with answers to these questions.
This is a faithful saying:
Since God measures success first and foremost on faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:2), it is not surprising that Paul introduces his teaching on the characteristics and qualities of leaders by saying what follows is a "faithful saying" (Greek pistos). What follows are words that are true of faithful servants and leaders of God. And when these things are found in those who lead they will also facilitate the growth of faith and spiritual fruit in those they lead.
If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
Leadership begins with a desire to lead. The word "desires" (Greek oregomai) means to stretch forward for, to reach out for, to yearn for, strive for, desire. To desire is to aspire; to want to fulfill a calling on one's life.
It's never a good idea to put a person in leadership who doesn't have the heart for it. It's not wrong to have a desire to be in a leadership position if you are willing to pay the price to lead. Problems in leadership arise when someone is forced into a position who really has no desire to be in leadership or a person who wants to be in leadership, but does not qualify, forces themselves into leadership. Both of these situations end up being the devil's playground and more often than not people get hurt, the church is divided and diminished, the bride of Christ has mud slung on her white wedding gown, and the Lord's name is blasphemed.
Those who aspire to leadership in the church must have pure motives. Remember, "the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith" (1:5) and that should apply to those with a desire to be a leader.
The position being desired is "bishop" (Greek episkope) or overseer or inspector. While today we think of a bishop as one who has attained a certain higher than local overseeing position in the church, when the term is used here is simply refers to a spiritual leader of a local church like a pastor, elder, or bishop. Episkope really can be used interchangeably to refer to these church positions (e.g. Acts 20:17-18).
Since there is a distinction made between a "bishop" and "deacon" in what follows it does seem as though Paul begins by speaking of the qualifications of the person who is a local pastor or in a position that involves the teaching of God's word ("able to teach" - 3:2). Someone put in a position of being a deacon can be moved by God to a position that is more like a bishop that involves ministering God's word in some way. Stephen is an example of this (Acts 6-7). For this reason we should always view our station in life (e.g. homemaker, school teacher, doctor, nurse, lawyer, police, landscaper, construction, clerk, etc.) as a platform from which God can use us to share His word.
The desire to lead must be a holy desire to serve. The one who "desires" (Greek oregamai) the position of bishop, "desires" (Greek epithumeo) or desires, longs for "a good" (Greek kalos) beautiful, good, advantageous, or noble "work" (Greek ergon) task, occupation, work, or action. Having a desire to be a pastor or someone who ministers God's word is a beautiful and noble thing. But it is "work" and will require effort. Work implies service. The one who desires to lead needs to have a servant's heart. James states that a teacher of God's word will be held to a higher accountability (James 3:1). Such an aspiration should not be sought without ample prayerful seeking of the Lord's confirmation.
Spiritual leaders need to be men of the word of God. The one aspiring to be a spiritual leader needs to be devoted to prayer and the ministry of God's word (Acts 6:4). We have already touched on the importance of prayer to the spiritual leader. But equally important is that the spiritual leader be a man of the word of God. In his second letter to Timothy Paul exhorts Timothy to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). If you are going to be one who ministers the word of God you are going to have to learn to be a reader. Up through high school I read one single book - Beowolf the Warrior. I chose that book because I was in a bind and it was the shortest one I could find. Before I knew the Lord I hated to read. But once I came to the Lord and He called me to be a Pastor/Teacher He put in my an insatiable appetite to consume His word. Consuming His word in prayerful study led to reading other books. Soon I experienced a life transformation where slowly but surely I became a reader; a reader of God's word and a reader of books. A heart and desire to be a spiritual leader is accompanied by a desire to read.
It is almost impossible to be an effective spiritual leader without reading. Those too lazy to apply themselves to reading and studying God's word as well as secondary works bring their "calling" into question. This doesn't mean the spiritual leader has to necessarily be a college undergraduate or graduate student with degrees. It does mean that they will surrender any inabilities or weaknesses in the area of reading and study they feel they have and develop their study skills in order to adequately fulfill the call of God on their lives. You don't have to be a scholar to be a spiritual leader, but you do have to be a student. Disciples are learners. Teachers can only teach what they themselves have learned. You can't pass on what you don't have. There are no shortcuts or excuses for being a "dumb" spiritual leader. In fact no "spiritual leader" has the right to lead if they are "dumb" and ignorant of God's word.
Anyone aspiring to be a spiritual leader should ask themselves some foundational questions: Do I have a heart to serve? Does my devotional life reflect one called by God to leadership? Do I regularly pray? Is what I put my hand to do for the Lord fruitful? Do I love God's word, study it, know it, share it, and am able to teach it accurately and in context? Do I regularly read through God's word? Am I living a holy life? Is there anything in my life that would discredit the name of Jesus? Is there evidence that God's hand and anointing is on my life? Has He opened doors of opportunity for me to serve? Do I have a servant's heart? Is my desire a carnal lust (i.e. a delusion of grandeur) or an obedient humble response to God's call on my life? Do others sense and see God's calling on my life? These are a few of the questions that should be asked and answered by the one who desires the good work of being a spiritual overseer. (See below Are You Called to be a Pastor?)
2 A bishop then must be
The verb "must be" (Greek dei) conveys the idea that what follows must be, is necessary, and has to be. What follows are not maybes or options. These are the things that need to be a part of the spiritual leader's character.
As we examine these qualifications we should also mention that God's grace is the essential enabling fuel at work in a spiritual leader. In another New Testament letter Paul testified, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10). Leaders serve by God's grace. When we think of grace it should focus us on Jesus. Let's pause a moment to look at Jesus and His leaders.
Jesus is our Model in birthing leaders. Jesus is our model and pattern in all we do. When we look at Jesus we see our pattern for how leaders come to be. Before we look at what a leader is we need to look at how a leader gets to the point of being considered as a potential leader. Jesus gives us our pattern for the process of leadership selection.
Jesus prayed leaders up. The first thing we see in the genesis of leadership is Jesus prayed about selecting leaders. Jesus "went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12). Jesus didn't select leaders based on their personality or whether or not He liked them. He also didn't base His selection of leaders on their secular achievements. Jesus chose leaders after He sought the Father's will in prayer about it. Considering someone for leadership is something that must begin in prayer. It is in prayer that the process of leader selection begins. Choosing leaders prayerlessly will only lead to powerless ill-placed leaders who lack the anointing of God. Jesus "continued all night in prayer to God" as He considered who He would choose as His leaders. If Jesus the Son of God spent the night in prayer before choosing His leaders. should we do any less?
Jesus chose His leaders. After Jesus prayed it states, "And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles" (Luke 6:13). Jesus chose His leaders from His disciples. The pool from which Jesus chose His leaders was among those who were "disciples" or follower-learners. Those who had already shown an evidence of commitment and willingness to follow and learn from Jesus were those He chose leaders from. Jesus also "chose" (Greek ekglegomai) or elected, selected, or chose His leaders. He did not put His choices up for a vote and then follow the consensus of the other disciples. No, He prayed about it and then chose those who would be His apostles.
In the local church there are various systems of government that have been put in place. Some want to run the church like a democracy. But if we choose leaders by election only then we are really not following the pattern Jesus established for us. There is a place for a congregation to choose people for positions in the church (e.g. Acts 6). But to Timothy Paul said, "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul instructed Titus to appoint spiritual overseers in the cities where churches had been established (Titus 1:5). When it comes to choosing leaders to assist in overseeing the ministry of the church it would appear the task is something the local pastor as the shepherd of the flock, through much prayer, is in authority to do.
Who did Jesus choose to be leaders? The disciples were unlearned and not always in tune with what Jesus was saying (Matthew 11:25; Mark 8:13-21; Acts 4:13). The disciples who were fishermen were probably course in their language (Mark 1:16-20). Let’s look at a few of these chosen ones of Jesus to see some other problems they had:
- Peter was impulsive and violent (John 18:10-11); was told by Jesus, “Get behind me Satan!” (Matthew 16:21-23). He said he would stay by Jesus side no matter what (Matthew 26:33) then cursed out someone who said he was one of Jesus‘ disciples, denied Jesus three times and ran (Matthew 26:69-75).
- James and John – Jesus called them “Boanerges” or “sons of thunder.” Either one of their parents had a bad temper or Jesus was referring to their temper (Mark 3:17). The latter is likely the case since they once suggested Jesus call down fire on a crowd and had to be rebuked (Luke 9:52-55). They were proud and quarrelsome (Mark 10:35-45).
- Philip was slow on the pickup and was rebuked by Jesus for not recognizing who He was (John 14:8-11).
- Thomas was also in need of instruction by Jesus (John 14:1-6). He doubted Christ’s resurrection (John 20:25-29).
- Matthew was a tax collector and people of this profession were known for their greed and manipulation (Matthew 9:9).
- Judas was a traitor (Luke 6:16); a cynical critic (John 12:3-5); thief (John 12:6); was a treasurer (John 13:29); Betrayer (John 13:21-26); and sold out Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16).
If you were going to choose leaders for a church would you have chosen any of those that Jesus chose? It's unlikely you would choose any of the original twelve Jesus chose given their disqualifications. They were hardly movers and shakers by the world’s standards. But that’s the point; Jesus didn’t choose His men by the world’s standards. He chose men to lead by a heavenly standard.
What Leadership Qualities Did Jesus Look For? There seems to be two basic essential qualifications in the men chosen by Jesus to be His disciples and the future leaders of the church:
1.) They were willing to follow Him and be disciples (“disciple” literally means “learner; pupil; student”), they were willing to learn.
2.) They had a heart for God. When given the opportunity to follow Jesus, these disciples did so because they had a heart and desire to know God’s plan for their lives. They could have walked away like the Rich Young Ruler, or those who refused to accept His teachings, but they did not, they followed Jesus (John 6:67-69). The men Jesus chose were willing to put God first (Matthew 19:27; Luke 9:23-26).
Jesus Prerequisite of Potential. It would appear by looking at Jesus’ method of choosing leaders that He chose men based on their potential and their willingness to be discipled or grow in their faith. If they were willing to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him daily (Luke 9:23-26) then they were welcome. Jesus chose men based not merely on what they were but more on what He knew they could become.
To be considered as a potential leader or to serve as a leader does not mean you have arrived in your walk with the Lord, it simply enhances your opportunity to serve and gives you more responsibility. We are all a work in progress (Philippians 1:6). If you look at Paul’s list of qualifications and assess yourself as “perfect,” beware lest you are thinking more highly of yourself than you should (Proverbs 26:12; Romans 12:3,16; Galatians 6:3; 1 John 1:8,10). It would probably be more prudent to view Paul’s list as a potential to shoot for, attain, and maintain.
Grace does not excuse sin. We are all what we are by God’s grace. But that doesn’t mean we should excuse sin in our lives or lower our standards of leadership. The disciples of Jesus were vastly different men after they had served with the Master and received the empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit (compare Peter in Matthew 26 to Peter at Pentecost and beyond – Acts 2). Sin is never to be compromised with, never excused. But when a person is considered for leadership it is done by God’s grace. What does this mean? It means that the one choosing the potential leader does so depending upon God for direction and on what God’s grace can do in a person. Does the potential leader have a heart for the Lord and are they willing to learn and grow in their faith? Are they willing to surrender themselves to God in order to have Him work in their lives in a way that brings them step by step into fulfillment of Paul’s leadership qualifications? Once chosen, do they continue to grow into the leaders God desires them to be? Those are the questions that need our consideration.
Choosing leaders by grace can be and often is risky, (remember Judas). The utmost prayer and trust in God is needed to see potential leaders in terms of not so much what they are but rather in terms of what God can make them to be. We are limited; we cannot look into the hearts of men as God can (1 Samuel 16:7). But a man’s heart is often revealed in the life he lives. Candidates for leadership are not always perfect (are they ever?) But candidates for leadership have hearts for the Lord and a willingness to learn and grow in Him that gives them great potential. May we choose leaders like Jesus did and by His grace.
Questions for Leaders to Consider. A potential leader should consider the following questions:
- Am I willing to change and grow in the areas of my life that need to be improved upon as a leader according to Paul’s qualifications for leaders in 1 Timothy 3?
- Am I willing to change and grow while under the scrutiny of others?
- Am I willing to sacrifice personal rights and desires in order to be a leader of God?
- Am I willing to change and grow out of anything in my life that would bring shame to the Lord?
- Am I willing to submit to God’s higher standards for leadership in order to bring glory to Him?
- Am I willing as a leader, to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus?
A person who is in a leadership position needs to consider the following questions:
- Am I a better leader today than when I was first chosen for leadership?
- Are there areas I still need to change and grow in so that I can become a better leader?
- Do I still have a servant’s heart?
- Am I growing in God’s grace and am I gracious toward others? (1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Peter 3:17-18)
- Do I think I’ve already arrived and have little room or need for spiritual growth?
- Do my actions show in reality, that I feel I am okay and don’t need to grow, or that I am concerned and diligent in seeking to grow in God’s grace more and more? Am I sitting back and coasting in my faith or am I pressing on to the higher calling of God in Christ? (Philippians 3)
- Am I, as a leader in the church, willing to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?
May God, in His Spirit help us to prayerfully choose the right leaders in His church as well as help those of us who are already in leadership positions to grow in the grace and knowledge of God.
So let's look at these qualifications for leadership presented by Paul here.
"Blameless" (Greek anepileptos) means not arrested, unrebukable, inculpable, or blameless. The idea is that the spiritual leader is not involved in some secret sin that he could be blamed for and that would bring discredit or shame to the name of the Lord. The spiritual leader is not someone who has unrepented of sinful skeletons in his closet.
the husband of one wife,
It was common practice in the days of the New Testament that a man would have a slave girl in the home to fulfill his sexual desires, a pagan temple prostitute who he would "worship" with, and a wife to bear and care for his children. Paul is therefore stating a spiritual leader should be a one woman man not one entangled with the lustful ways of the world. The spiritual leader should be faithful and true in his most important human relationship; his marriage. If a leader can't be faithful to his wife, it's not likely they will be faithful in other relationships; including relationships involved in leading. Monogamy is the standard for the pastor.
People sometimes think that as long as they don't indulge in actual physical intercourse outside of marriage that they are okay. There is widespread access to immoral pornographic content in our world today. The Bible defines any sex outside of the marriage relationship as sin (i.e. fornication). Jesus defined adultery not only in terms of a physical act but to include lustful thoughts toward others (Matthew 5:27-32). So when Paul speaks about being "the husband of one wife" we should look at that in terms of the spirit of it. We may be married to one spouse but are we straying in our thought life? Spiritual leaders are faithful and devoted to their wife.
"Temperate" (Greek nephalios) means circumspect, sober, clearheaded, drinking no wine. The one called to oversee the flock of God is to abstain from consuming anything that would cloud their mind or thinking. Satan prowls around like a lion looking for prey and he especially targets those in spiritual leadership. A pastor needs to be circumspect or have his head on a swivel. An enemy attack of himself or a sheep from his flock could occur at any moment from behind any corner. Therefore the spiritual leader should not dull their senses in any way by consuming anything that would take the edge off and make them vulnerable to attack (cf. 1 Peter 5:8-9).
"Sober-minded" (Greek sophron) actually reiterates the idea of being temperate. "Sober-minded" means prudent, self-controlled, discreet, chaste. This means not given to excess. The sober-minded person doesn't lunge ahead or lag behind the Lord but is in step with Him. This is a person whose life is in balance. The spiritual leader is even-keeled.
of good behavior,
"Good behavior" (Greek kosmios) means respectable, orderly, honorable, virtuous, or modest. The idea is the spiritual leader is well disciplined and has their life in good order.
"Hospitable" (Greek philoxenon) refers to one who is someone who is welcoming and has a natural inclination to serve the needs of others. The spiritual leader is one who enjoys being around people. They don't neglect the fellowship of believers (e.g. Hebrews 10:24-25).
able to teach;
"Able to teach" (Greek didaktikos) refers to someone is skilled in teaching, able to instruct others, or able to teach. It is essential for anyone aspiring to the pastorate that they be able to teach God's word. This is an essential of the pastor. You cannot be an effective pastor and not be able to teach. This ability to teach is a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit (e.g. Romans 12:6-8; Eph. 4:11-12).
3 not given to wine,
"Not given to wine" (Greek paroinos) not drunken, not addicted to wine, brawling, abusive. Since Paul's qualifications to deacons is slightly different saying "not given to much wine (3:8) it would seem that to the pastor Paul is instructing a total abstinence.
Scholars disagree as to whether oinos ("wine") in this verse, verse 8, and 5:23 refers to grape juice or a fermented drink, and therefore, whether the apostle is advocating temperance or abstinence. Other Scriptures give guidance for believers and especially leaders. They take a strong stand against drunkenness (see Leviticus 10:8, 9; Proverbs 20:1; 23:19-21, 29-35). The awful consequences of traffic fatalities and ruined homes force a thinking believer to make his decision on the basis of the great principle stated in Romans 14:21, "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended." 
Given the spiritual war the spiritual leader is called to maneuver in it would seem very imprudent to dull one's senses in such a dangerous environment. The fighter about to get into the ring or octagon with an imposing dangerous and deadly foe is not going to want to dull their senses in any way but they will want to be as alert as possible.
"Not violent" (Greek plektes) means not a striker, or contentious. A spiritual leader isn't always looking for a fight either physical or otherwise.
not greedy for money,
"Greedy for money" (Greek aischrokerdis) is greedy or disgraceful gain. The spiritual leader is not someone who is looking to manipulate people out of their money. The pastor should not be involved in any questionable financial dealings. They should not take "donations" that have strings attached. That is true personally as well as for the church generally.
"Gentle" (Greek epieikes) is fitting, yielding, gentle. This contrasts with the person who is a brawler or belligerent. The spiritual leader is gentle enough to be approached by others. Others should not feel threatened or fearful about approaching them. Sometimes people fear speaking with the pastor simply because of his position. But the pastor should never give justification for such fears. The pastor or spiritual leader should be gentle enough that the youngest child feels comfortable approaching them.
"Not quarrelsome" (Greek amachos) means not contentious, peaceable. The pastor or spiritual leader should be amicable, a good listener, not someone who is going to argue about everything. The pastor or spiritual leader is going to welcome conversation and not be antagonistic.
"Not covetous" (Greek aphilarguros) means not a lover of money. There are some who say they live by faith but really just sponge off the church. Money becomes dirty when it is lusted after and greedily pursued. The pastor and spiritual leader doesn't put a price on every parishioner. They don't see people in terms of dollar signs.
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?);
The pastor and spiritual leader should have a good handle on what is going on under their roof. This doesn't mean a pastor's or spiritual leaders children are perfect. It does mean they oversee a household where there is orderliness, respect toward one another, and reverence toward the Lord. It doesn't mean the pastor or spiritual leader never has disturbance or there is never an disagreement in their family. It simply means they follow the leading of the Spirit according to God's word when it comes to their family. The family is a place where love and grace abounds as well as discipline and order.
If a leader can't control their own family, how can they lead the church. If the pastor or spiritual leader has a disrupted family perhaps they need to step down and devote themselves to their family. Children who live under the same roof as the pastor and spiritual leader should respect and obey that leader. That leader should lead them like Jesus would.
But when the child grows to adulthood and leaves the home they are an adult and no longer under the control or supervision of the pastor or spiritual leader. Not even a pastor or spiritual leader can force a child to believe in Jesus. Each child needs to make their own decision for Christ. The pastor and spiritual leader is responsible to disciple their children until they leave the home. Then those children are on their own. Hopefully they will grow in the counsel of the Lord as they were raised.
6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). The word "novice" (Greek neophutos) refers to newly planted, young plant, a new believer. We get the word neophyte from this term. The new believer needs to get their spiritual foundation in place (e.g. Matthew 7:24-27). They need to gain some spiritual maturity and mature in the faith before they are entrusted with spiritual leadership. How mature does someone have to be until they are eligible for spiritual leadership? That is something that must be determined as other leaders follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
A new believer needs to grow in the grace of the Lord. By God's grace "there is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). If they are not assured of their standing in Jesus Paul points out the devil can come in and discourage them with "condemnation" (Greek krima). The devil will heap guilt on the novice when they blow it or make the inevitable mistakes and sins that come with getting your spiritual feet under you. A person needs to go through spiritual boot camp before they are ready for the battle field.
7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
The word "testimony" (Greek marturia) refers to the evidence or testimony of one's life. In other words the potential pastor or spiritual leader needs to have exemplified life in the Spirit before they are eligible for consideration to be a leader. A "good testimony" takes time to establish. And that testimony isn't only to be based on what people in the church think of them, it is to be based on having a good testimony outside the church. What do your neighbors think of you? What do those you work with think of you? What does your unsaved family members think of you? What is your testimony?
Leadership lessons from George Whitefield. At the end of Stephen Mansfield’s book on George Whitefield entitled, Forgotten Founding Father, he gives a short list of “The Lessons of Leadership” gleaned from the life of George Whitefield. These lessons are filled with wisdom from the life of this great man of God. These pearls of leadership wisdom flow out of a man who met the Pauline qualifications of leadership.
- Critics are the unpaid guardians of the soul.
- Humility is the freedom from self that great leadership demands.
- Suffering purifies the heart, hones the vision, and fashions the soul for battles to come.
- A truly effective public life is only possible if grown from a truly nourishing private life.
- Great leaders read in order to lead.
- Intercessory prayer is the long-range artillery of God. Leadership of eternal consequence is impossible without it.
- Extremes are deformity of purpose and wise leaders check the one to preserve the other.
- Applying the past to the present so as to shape the future is the leader’s art.
- To view life from the vantage point of death is to grasp the purpose for living.
- Leadership is a trust of power on behalf of the poor and the needy.
- Great leaders welcome hardship as the price of lasting change.
- The leader who knows he is destined is the leader who can risk in pursuit of a dream.
- Leaders must conquer the demons of their souls before they can conquer the demons of their age.
- Great leadership is impossible without great love.
- Leadership is about values that leaders must live before they proclaim.
- To offer a people hope is to acquire a position of leadership in their lives.
- Humor is the celebration of joy that gives life, and thus true leadership, its meaning.
- To draw out the best that is in a man despite his flaws is to lead him toward the man he is called to be.
- To make a divided people one in the service of a noble cause is the hallmark of great leadership.
- Every man has a destiny, but his destiny is fulfilled by investing in the destinies of others.
Now we continue with the qualifications for deacons.
The Qualifications of Deacons
1 Timothy 3:8–13 (NKJV)
8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
8 Likewise deacons
"Deacon" (Greek diakonos) refers to a servant, waiter, deacon. A deacon serves in overseeing mostly the material needs of the church. The deacon was a subordinate helper to the Episkopos pastor or spiritual leader. Many of the qualifications mentioned of bishop are also applied to the deacon with some slight changes.
must be reverent,
"Reverent" (Greek semnos) means venerable, honorable, honest, worthy of respect, having integrity, dignified, holy. This is the primary spirit which such a helper should have.
"Not double-tongued" (Greek dilogos) means they shouldn't be insincere or deceitful. The idea is that they shouldn't say one thing to one group and another thing to another group just to curry favor or manipulate people to their wishes. A deacon should be truthful and sincerely honest.
not given to much wine,
Here Paul doesn't speak of total abstinence from wine but only "much wine." While the deacon is permitted to consume wine they are not to cross the line into drunkenness or a degree of impairment that would hinder their service.
not greedy for money,
Like the pastor spiritual leader the deacon is not to be greedy for money. They aren't to look to charge for the services they perform in helping the pastor or leadership. They aren't to be looking for constant handouts or financial remuneration.
9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.
The job description of the deacon doesn't only involve physical or materially related service. They are to hold the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. A "mystery" (Greek mysterion) simply refers to that which has yet to be revealed. Like those chosen to serve tables in Acts (cf. Acts 6-7) they should be ready to share or open up the scriptures to those they serve. And they should do that with a "pure conscience" (Greek katheros suneidesis) or without ulterior motives. Some of the greatest opportunities to share the gospel and open up God's word come through our service to others. No matter where you work or what you do view your position as a strategic platform from which to represent Jesus. That is true for deacons and that is true for all of us.
10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless.
The word "tested" (Greek dokimadzo) means proved, tested, examined, tied, scrutinized. The deacon needs to start their service in situations that are entry level and then as they show themselves reliable in the small things they are given more responsibility.
11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.
The wives of deacons are to be "reverent" (Greek semnos) "not slanderers" (Greek diabolos) or literally not devilish, slanderers, false accusers, adversarial. The wives of deacons are to be "temperate" (Greek nephaleos) which means not given to wine, clearheaded, temperate. They are to be "faithful" (Greek pistos) they walk by faith in all things.
These words imply that it is primarily men who are eligible for the position of deacons. But it also implies that a deacon has a strong, loving, stable marriage relationship.
12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
The deacon like the bishop needs to have their relationships in good order. That begins with their relationship with the Lord. But it also includes that their marriage and parent child relationships are stable as well.
13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
What is the benefit of serving as a deacon? When a person "served well as deacons" the result is a "good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." "
"Good standing" (Greek bathmos) means a good rank. The idea is that as a person serves it opens doors to greater responsibilities in ministry. It is through service that a person advances in their usefulness to the Lord.
"Boldness" (Greek parrhesia) refers to outspokenness, frankness, plainness, clarity and courage to speak publically, fearlessness. The more a person serve others and interacts with them the more the Lord through opportunity will help a person learn how to share His word. The more we share through serving the more comfortable we become in doing so.
Leadership lessons from Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry was one of the great founding fathers of our nation. He is known for the rallying cry of the American Revolution, "Give me liberty or give me death!" He was a great leader in the secular world. But it was his great faith in Christ in the church that made him the effective leader he was outside the church. At the end of David J. Vaughan’s book on Patrick Henry entitled, Give Me Liberty, he gives a short list of “The Lessons of Leadership” gleaned from the life of this great man of God. These lessons are:
- A leader is indebted to the legacy of his parents.
- Providence chooses the leader who has prepared to be chosen.
- Great leadership is never the product of natural gifts alone.
- The best leaders always educate themselves.
- A leader knows that adversity is the handmaiden to maturity; therefore, he will not shrink from difficulties.
- The unseen source of a leader’s courage is faith in God and His justice.
- A leader acts courageously because God governs providentially.
- Conviction is worthless unless converted into conduct.
- Humility is essential to leadership because it makes a leader a servant.
- A leader knows that criticism is inevitable, and thus will not allow himself to be poisoned by bitterness.
- All great leaders rule by the heart.
- A concern for people is the ultimate test of true leadership.
- The highest form of leadership is based on the bedrock of religious conviction.
- A leader’s source of duty will move him to lay aside personal comfort for the interest of others.
- A man who cannot rule his family cannot govern his country.
- The home is the testing ground for all sound leadership.
- A leader’s vision is rooted in his knowledge of the past.
- A leader faces the future with a sober confidence.
- Leadership requires the courage to face the truth, even if painful.
- The difference between vision and fanaticism is realism.
- Every great leader fails; no great leader accepts failure as final.
- A leader is a guardian of his followers.
- Inspiring oratory is the result of courageous conviction.
- The character of a leader is revealed by the manner in which he handles success and power.
- A healthy sense of humor reflects a leader’s insight, humility, and sense of balance.
- A charlatan loves humanity; a leader loves people.
- A leader knows that hard work is a calling, not a curse, and the only sure path to greatness.
- Patriotic leadership means standing on divine principle in the face of human injustice.
- Every great leader will be a conservative who builds the future on the tried foundation of the past.
- A leader must be active but not driven. He knows the value of rest.
- A leader of men must be a reader of men.
- A leader’s courage is most clearly seen in how he faces death.
The Church Bishops and Deacons Serve and Her Message
14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Paul concludes this chapter on leadership expressing his hope to join Timothy in person shortly. But because there was a possibility of Paul being delayed he has sent this letter as a how to concerning "conduct" (Greek anestrepho) or live, maneuver, act and live out "in the house of God." These words of instruction from Paul to Timothy are for life but they are primarily for ministry life in the church. When we study them we should keep that context in view.
Paul also describes for us the nature of the church served by bishops and deacons. It's important to appreciate the church. The church is the Bride of Christ. There are those who minimize the importance of the church. They claim the church to be corrupt and apostate and for sure segments, large segments of the church have strayed into apostasy. But we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. In fact to do so is to offend Jesus who died for His bride! (Ephesians 5:25). No, instead of casting mud on the church and offending her Groom we ought to strive in the Spirit to do everything we can to make every segment of the church where we attend be all the church it can be. Paul's words to Timothy here define the church and Her message. Let's look at what the church should be and what the message is that She shoudl proclaim.
The church is "of the living God." The church is where the presence of the living God is manifested most clearly or it should be. A dead lifeless church is an oxymoron. The church, any and every church, if it is indeed a genuine church, is the place where people gather to experience a connection with "the loving God" Who is real and Who makes a real difference in life.
The church is "the pillar and ground of the truth." The second aspect of the church is that it is where the truth of God is proclaimed. "The word 'pillar' was sometimes used for the decorative column that often supported statues of famous citizens. 'Ground' is the 'support, bulwark, buttress' that supports the building. And 'truth' refers to the gospel." 
"The truth" is found in the Bible (John 17:17). How sad it is and what a travesty and injustice it is when God's word is not taught in God's church. The church, if it really is a genuine church as God intended it to be, is a place where God's word, His truth is taught. The more the church is teaching and preaching and ministering the word of God the more it is fulfilling its God ordained and intended purpose.
The message of the church is Christ-centered. The final verse of this chapter lays out a creedal hymn likely memorized by early Christians as a common expression of their orthodox beliefs. Early Christians did not have the advantage of written resources. Parchments and other written forms were expensive. Much of what people knew had to be committed to memory and that was done through creedal hymns like we have here. Knowing such creeds also helped believers be certain of what they believed. Creeds gave early believers certain apostolically approved truths to live by and in some cases die by. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and 2 Timothy 2:11-13 are other examples of first century creeds used in the early church to facilitate commonality of orthodox beliefs.)
What we see when we examine this creed is a Christ-centered hymn.
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.
The phrase "without controversy" is translated from a single Greek term homologoumonos and means an undeniable confession. The content of this verse is what the church and her people should be proclaiming. This is a creedal hymn of the early church. "God was manifested in the flesh" refers to the incarnation of Jesus. "Justified in the Spirit" refers to the ministry of the Spirit in the life of Jesus that He justly lives without sin fulfilling all the requirements of legal justification according to the law. "Seen by angels" may refer to His eternal existence as well as to the angelic witnesses at His resurrection. "Preached among the Gentiles" refers to how the Lord's redemptive plan goes to Israel and through Israel to also the Gentile nations and all the world. "Believed on in the world" refers to the spread of the good news of salvation by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ throughout the world. The gospel spreads; nothing can stop it. And "received up in glory" refers to the ascension of Jesus but also our eternal destiny for those who are saved through Jesus. This is the song of the church. Can you sing it from your heart? Will you sing it to others?
In closing I share a few nuggets of leadership gold from Chuck Smith – A Memoir of Grace. These are lessons Pastor Chuck Smith over the years of blessed and successful ministry. They serve as a good conclusion for this chapter on leadership:
“A few of the more important lessons the Lord has drilled into me include the following:
· Do not despise ‘the day of small things’ (Zechariah 4:10). Our own hearts are capable of concocting some grandiose visions of how we can serve God or how He should use us. But in His school, God begins with the alphabet. He patiently lays a foundation in our lives before raising the walls and towers. I have found that it is important to be willing to do no more than plant seeds, even if we will not live to see the harvest.” (p, 202)
· ‘It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth’ (Lamentations 3:27). One of the worst things that can happen to a young minister is to experience early success. It is all too easy for us to believe that, ‘By the strength of my hand I have done it’ (Isaiah 10:13). Until we have sat for a while in failure and come to the end of ourselves, we will neither know nor credit God’s grace for whatever good we may do. Nor will we be able to minister grace to others in their time of need and failure. . . . God rarely wastes His time trying to explain to us what He is doing and what it means. . . . Preoccupation with the troubles of the moment is what makes our hearts and minds vulnerable to panic and anxiety. We need to back away and get the eternal perspective from which it is more clear that ‘our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:17).” (p. 202-203)
· Whatever you do, ‘grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). I cannot overemphasize the important of the role that grace plays in every aspect of our lives. When it becomes obvious that I have not made as much progress in holiness as God desires, grace fills the distance between where I am and where I should be, and draws me forward. Grace makes what is impossible for me by my own strength, not only possible but also much easier than I could have imagined.” (p. 203)
· “Remember the two greatest commandments: “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all they mind, and wit all thy strength’ and ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ (Mark 12:30-31). . . . love the outsider, the sinner, and the enemy. . . . (1 John 3:18).” (p. 204).
· Prepare yourself – as much as it is humanly possible – to obey Jesus to do something even if it is ridiculous like ‘Stretch forth thine hand’ when your hand is paralyzed (Mark 3:1-5). Even when you have ‘toiled all night’ fishing and caught nothing – let down the net if Jesus tells you to do so (Luke 5:4-7). We sometimes balk at Jesus’ strange commands thinking, But if nothing happens I will look so stupid. Here is the heart of the matter: It is not about you. It is about the work of Jesus and the glory of God. His thoughts are always higher than ours and His work is always greater than what we ask or think. I may not always get it right the first time, but I have become more consistent in just doing what He says when He tells me, ‘Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it’ (Psalm 81:10).” (p. 204).
· Exercise your best wisdom and always be cautious when dealing with money. I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of handling your finances with integrity. . . . (1 Timothy 6:9) . . . . (Proverbs 27:23-27) . . . . When a moneymaking opportunity looks too good to be true, it is.” (p. 205).
· Beware the praise of the crowd (Luke 6:26). . . . When we put our effort into pleasing people, it disables our service to Christ (Galatians 1:10).” (p. 205)
· “I would especially direct this lesson to pastors: ‘Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine’ (2 Timothy 4:2). In other words, simply teach the word simply. The greatest service you can provide to the people in your care is to make the Bible accessible to them. Give them the ‘sincere milk of the Word’ in a way that is easily digested. . . . (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:12-14). The best Bible teaching is not that which dazzles people with the profound intellect of their teacher, but that which puts its truth squarely in their hands.” (p. 206).
· “For many years I have enjoyed a life of extraordinary blessing and I am convinced that is God’s will for every Christian. But before getting to that place in life, I learned many difficult lessons – and I am still learning – for God never allows us to fully make ourselves at home in this world.” (p. 206).
· “In the preparation, discouragements and defeats are necessary. Had I been successful early on, I would have taken credit for all that God did. I would not have been able to handle the recognition that God gave me but would have taken credit for the success. God wants to receive the glory for the work He does, so He first prepares the person to be the instrument He desires to use. That preparation includes a lot of failure in order to learn the difference between God’s work and your own. God leads you through failure so that when He works you will know for certain you are not responsible for the success. Then God alone receives the credit. God wants to work, bout the glory need to go to God.” (p. 206-207)
· “I have not been able to tell my story apart from God.” (p. 207).
· “I am no different in God’s sight from anyone else. The blessings He’s given me are available to all, and I am convinced that any person can live a life as full and as joyous as mine has been.” (p. 207)
· “Just keep your eyes on the Lord and follow Him as closely as possible. Be patient, for in His time when He finally connects all the dots, you will realize that truly all things work together for good. Even as Paul encouraged us in Galatians 6:9, ‘Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.’ May the Lord grant you the grace and patience to wait on Him until His full purpose is completed I and through your life, and you have the joy of hearing Him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’” (p. 207).
Are You Called To Be A Pastor?
How does a person know if they are called to be a pastor? How does a person know what God is calling them to do? Below are some questions to consider for those who may be in the feeling stage of considering their call. Why is it important to consider carefully and prayerfully one’s call, especially a call to be a pastor? I am convinced that to enter pastoral ministry without God’s call is one of the greatest deceptions of the devil. This is so because the one who is deceived and drawn into pastoral ministry apart from God’s call, will suffer great personal loss if not shipwreck their lives and the lives of their loved ones. But worse, the one who ventures into ministry for the wrong reasons will be powerless to prevent the desecration of God’s holy name. The non-called pastor , the non-called person in any position, is one of Satan’s most effective weapons. (See 1 Timothy 4; 2 Timothy 3-4; 2 Peter 2; Jude; and Revelation 2-3).
Furthermore, there is another enemy in discerning the call to be a pastor, it is called self. There is something attractive to people about standing in front of a group and speaking. This is often at the root of a person’s interest in pastoral ministry. Because of this the person considering whether or not they are called to be a pastor needs to really reflect and prayerfully consider their motives. Is pride involved? Is this “calling” self-serving or self-crucifying? Really pray about your motives. Is this “call” from inside you or heavenly in origin? Satan will seek to sneak into a person’s life through their self and oftentimes snares them on the hooks of pride. He should know, he’s hooked himself (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:11-19).
Therefore, how does one cut through the fog of impression and feeling to discern in the Spirit whether or not they are called by God into pastoral ministry? Below are a few areas that are particularly important for discerning the one called to pastoral ministry. While I’m sure these questions are not exhaustive or all-inclusive of every individual situation, they are the product of prayer, Bible study, and experience and should be considered seriously and prayerfully. (This tool is focused on discerning the pastoral call, but many of the questions can be applied to various other aspects of ministry to which someone might feel God is calling them to.)
1.) Discerning God’s Will –
What evidence is there that you are called to be a pastor? Do you have a plan to discern God’s will? Do you have a history of feeling called to do something only to leave the work unfinished? If so, what makes this “feeling” or sense of a call different? Have you truly put yourself on God’s altar and opened yourself to His will no matter what that might mean in regards to your own personal desires? (See Romans 12:1-2 as well as Joshua 1:8; Psalm 37:5; 119:168; 143:8; Proverbs 3:6; Hebrews 4:16).
2.) Evidence of Pastoral Call –
- Origin of Call – How was this “call” initiated, by you or someone else? Genuine calls are usually brought to light by others who see it in you before you “feel” it in you. If you had not felt the call and initiated it, would anyone else have seen it in you or brought it to your or someone else’s attention? If someone other than yourself has initiated recognition of your call, what is the basis of their observation? Are they simply confirming something that you have sent a message about in some way and therefore trying to affirm you and please you more than they are observing a work of God in you and through you? Jesus initiated the call in the lives of the disciples; they did not come to Him to initiate it. The call by Jesus is more of a follow Me than it is a let me follow You. (Matthew 4:18-22; 10:1-4)
- Small Groups – Do you take an active role in small group activity? (e.g. Sunday School class; Home Bible Study) It is here where the fruit of a pastoral call is usually seen first. What fruit or evidence of a pastoral call is present in the small groups ministry? Do small group Bible studies “take off” or grow and bear lasting fruit as a result of God working through you? Or, do you find teaching in and leading a small group difficult, uncomfortable, and unfruitful?
- Interpersonal Evidence - What evidence is there of being able to relate to people in a pastoral way? Do you tend to be frustrated with people or patient with people? Are you able to communicate with people by both listening and speaking to them? Is communication one way, your way? Are you gracious with people? Do you love people? (Galatians 6:1-5; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
- Teaching – Has the Lord opened a door of opportunity for you to teach? If not, why not? Lack of opportunity may indicate this spiritual gift is not present. If the opportunity has presented itself, what fruit of a spiritual gift of teaching was apparent? Pastors need to be able to teach (Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 and 2 Timothy). What evidence is there in your life of an ability to teach? Is there evidence that you can effectively communicate God’s word in an edifying manner? If a person cannot excel in Biblical studies, if God’s anointing is not present in this area, are they called to pastoral ministry? (E.g. Calvary Chapel Bible College/ Extension courses or similar studies – Do you revel and thrive in the work and preparation? Or was the work a burden?)
- Godly Counsel – What do others (Christians and Christian leaders) think about you being called to pastoral ministry? Do they see it in your life? Can they clearly see evidence of such a call? If so, why? If not, why not? Are you open to their godly opinion or is your mind made up? The counsel of others is important to decision making (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 20:18; 24:6)
- Service – Do you have a servant’s heart? Are you willing to serve in obscurity? Have you ever done so? Are you willing to do whatever God wants whenever He wants it done? Even if that means you are not called to pastoral ministry? (Mark 10:45; Luke 9:23-26; John 13; Philippians 2:5-11).
- Anointing – Last and most importantly, is there evidence of God’s anointing on you as a pastor? Is it clear or questionable? Can you go through the questions in this Are You Called To Be A Pastor? Study and confidently answer “yes” to these questions? If not, why not? What is the Lord saying to you? Are you rationalizing your responses to bend them in the way you would have them to go? Be honest.
3.) Existing Ministry –
What area of ministry has God gifted you in? Would God have a person begin ministries only to leave them prematurely? Would God open doors to ministry and not have a person walk through them? If God has given you a gift to do a certain ministry, then that is probably where He is calling you to minister. As an unprofitable servant it would be inappropriate to rebel against and wiggle out of the way God wants to use you (Luke 17:10).
It would be best to test the waters in ministry locally to see where God’s gifting is in your life, rather than embark in life altering plans based on insufficient evidence or feeling. If God blesses and his call is sure, then proceed in that call, but if He does not bless, you will save yourself a lot of heartache and frustration by moving on and discovering where God really does want to use you. (See 1 Corinthians 7:17,24)
4.) Gifting –
Some have mistakenly used Paul’s inspired words in 1 Corinthians 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 as justifying the use of anybody, regardless of God’s gifting, to enter ministry. The foolish things God uses are foolish from the world’s perspective, not God’s perspective. The ones God chooses to minister are gifted by the Spirit to do the work He calls them to do (1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Ephesians 4:11-12). Therefore, if God is calling a person to be a pastor-teacher, they will show evidence of spiritual gifting for such a calling. If God is calling a person to be a pastor then His power working in and through that called person will be evident in such an area. The gifting evidence accompanies the call. A “call” without evidence is suspect. Would God give a person gifts (e.g. Pastor-teaching, evangelism, musically for worship, etc.) that are blessed and spiritually powerful in ministry and then not call that person to that ministry? The calling usually is accompanied by gifts related to the ministry the Lord is calling a person to fulfill. Why would God gift and bless in an area of ministry, seemingly lead a person into an area of ministry, only to have the person “sense” a calling to another area of ministry? Does God give contrary evidence? If you look at the beginnings of the Calvary Chapel movement and the pastors God raised up, (E.g. Greg Laurie, Raul Ries, Mike McIntosh, Jon Courson, et.al) they were not initially learned or schooled in seminaries or Bible schools, but they had been discipled under the teaching of Pastor Chuck Smith and when they took over situations such as small group Bible Studies, the fruit that followed made it very clear of the calling of God in their lives.
5.) Pastoral Perspective –
Do you have a realistic view of pastoral ministry? Ministry is not only teaching, or being in view of a group of people, it is above all serving. It is administrating, shepherding, discipling. It is running to the hospital to be at the beside of the sick and doing so at any time of night or day. It’s uncomfortable situations galore when you are called upon by God to rebuke, exhort, correct and encourage. It’s disciplining those who do not see that ministry is service and not a bully pulpit for their own agenda. It is taking a stand against carnal folly and superficiality when those who indulge in such things often rally the unwitting crowd against you. It is speaking the truth in love, no matter what.
Pastoral ministry is serving the Lord and sacrificing time with your family. Your wife and children will miss you every time you step out to minister and you will constantly be reminded of the cost of such a venture. You will be convicted and torn, but you will continue on because God’s call is on your life and you trust the Lord and His grace to compensate for your failings.
Pastoral ministry is always subordinating your will to the will of God. It is never self-serving and always self-crucifying. It is a life of continual sacrifice. It is living in a fishbowl and being the brunt of accusations, insinuations and outright falsehoods made by people who are really not informed of the entire truth of the pastoral situation. Its receiving comments and criticisms offered in a good-natured way about your ministry and wondering if there is something more substantially meant beneath the surface. Pastoral ministry will drive you to paranoia if you are not called by God. Pastoral ministry is depending upon God to defend you in such situations rather than defending yourself (1 Peter 5:6). It is having people pick at your family, judge you, assess not only your pluses and minuses, but all your families’ as well. It’s not reacting to such “attacks” fueled by the enemy who seeks to get to the pastor through those closest to him.
Pastoral ministry is constantly relying on God and patiently working with people who are often transient, or sitting back, uncommitted, or simply infants in Christ. It is waiting on God in service. In its beginnings it is often working a full time job, heading up a family, and being used by God to serve in a work of His that may require you to remain in such a situation for years, with no guarantee that it will ever end, (a pastor may be bi-vocational for their entire ministry). The pastoral ministry is not a means of “great gain” (1 Timothy 6:3-10).
Pastoral ministry is serving in obscurity. It is living in a part of the world that only the pastor and God can fully comprehend, no one else, not a wife, not a friend, not even another pastor at times. It is often a humanly lonely calling solely between the pastor and God.
Even so, pastoral ministry is a joy to the called. It is the only option for the called pastor. If you can find happiness and satisfaction in anything else, you are not called to be a pastor. Pastoral ministry is not an alternative and last resort for someone who has failed in every other area of their life and figures, “Hmm, everything else has failed, why not give pastoring a try?” Beware; pastoral ministry is a frustrating hurricane that will blow down the presumptuous who are not called. Those who enter in with presumptuous perceptions of grandeur, of being golden-tongued orators in front of thousands, will soon learn that the weight of ministry will squash those who enter in by their own strength rather than the grace that comes with the call of God. Pastoral ministry is serving God with no other reward but to know that by relying totally on God, He will one day say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
We often casually read the description by Paul of his ministry, but as the pastor matures in their ministry they learn and see the truth of this description more and more. Read what Paul said about his ministry and what it means to have a pastor’s heart – 2 Corinthians 3:5-6; 4:2,8-11; 5:14-15; 11:16-23; 12:11-21. Truly a pastor’s call is expressed by the following words of Paul who wrote:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering,” - 2 Timothy 4:6a
If you are called to be a pastor, nothing else will satisfy or do for you, and though the road may be hard, God’s call and grace will sustain you. If you are not called, and you venture out haphazardly in your own strength, you are doomed to a life of frustration and folly and will have missed the work God would have blessed.
The words shared above are not to discourage the one who is called by God. In fact, the one called by God will find assurance of their call if they prayerfully apply these questions to their lives. The purpose of such a study is to spare people the frustration and failure that might come by entering into a holy calling presumptively apart from God’s actual call. It is also meant to spare the church any more scorn and poor witness that has come via those who are self-servingly involved in pastoral ministry. When Peter had denied the Lord, Jesus didn’t throw him on the scrap heap, He restored him. But Jesus restored Peter in a way that confirmed his calling and assured him of God’s will in his life. Jesus did this by asking him a few questions:
- John 21:15-17 – “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”
Now I do not quote this passage to get a rise of emotion out of the reader; I quote this to hopefully strike to the heart of the situation. Peter was asked repeatedly by Jesus, “Do you love me?” Love of Jesus is the center of our relationship with Him. All decisions should be based on that motivation, our love for Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Now the point here is not that those who are actually called by God to be a pastor are more loving of Jesus; not at all. The point here is do you love Jesus enough to do whatever He wants you to do? Even if that means you are not to serve him as a pastor? That’s the point. If you love Jesus, you can serve Him joyfully from the heart whether He calls you to do so as a pastor or not. The answer to that question gets to the heart of the truth and the truth at heart, about your “call” to be a pastor; about your call to be anything God wants you to be. May God guide you and call you according to His will.