Is Your Pastor Qualified? – Part 4

“It would have been a fearful thing for me to have occupied the watchman’s place without having received the watchman’s commission.”- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Part 3 discussed an overseer’s addictive proclivities, temperament, and relationship with money. In part 4, we will discuss some of what I think are the most overlooked qualifications for overseers in the church today. We usually make it a point to ensure our pastor can teach, isn’t violent, and churches love to keep the man of God humble on the financial front, but these particular qualities seem to be considered footnotes or afterthoughts that only seem to matter when they careen out of control but there’s no consideration for how they got there to begin with. Let’s look.

1 Timothy 3:4-5 state “He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” As logical as this point is, how many pastoral households have you observed where on the exterior they look polished but upon deeper scrutiny you discover that the children are out of control?

It’s become a running joke in the church that the Pastor’s Kid is the ringleader when it comes to mischief in the youth group. While getting into a bit of trouble isn’t necessarily a sign of a wayward child, acting out because you lack discipline sure can be. Fathers are given the express responsibility to train their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, when you compound that responsibility with the overseeing of the local church, it goes from being a very heavy burden to being an intensely heavy burden.

This is why it is crucial that the overseer be able to manage his home and its mechanics well before he is given the tremendous responsibility of managing the inner workings of the Lord’s church. How can a man care for Christ’s bride while neglecting his own? How can a man shepherd the Lord’s sheep if he doesn’t care for his lambs at home? Does your pastor stand in the pulpit and admonish you to teach your children the scriptures and train them in the truths of the faith while neglecting to do so for his own children?

This would be hypocritical would it not? It was this very quality that forced me to make the hard decision to leave the pastorate myself. After 10 years as a pastor, I realized that I was doing a poor job of disciplining my young children. It’s still a challenge, but with that reality set before me, I could either keep trying to swim upstream and fail or I could accept that I had disqualified myself from the ministry by letting my home fall out of balance and focus on my responsibilities as husband and father.

Ultimately, I had to accept that God’s plan would not be thwarted because I was no longer preaching sermons and that God was still using me. Little did I know that shortly after I resigned, the kids would be coming home from school due to COVID-19 and I would be in charge of homeschooling them for 18 months; but maybe I’ll tell that story another day. One last point that I want to make on this subject before I move on, you might meet all the qualifications as a young married man. I did. However, kids change things.

There came a point when I had to accept that I was no longer able to properly lead my home and be a pastor, and that was ok. I couldn’t abandon my family, so I had to surrender my post as a minister to better serve my family. That was the honorable thing for me to do. We found a great church that took us in for about a year, then we moved to Arkansas and immediately got plugged into a great church.

Verse 6 states something that I think it would really be beneficial to take heed to. It says “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” While a lot of pastors have the testimony of following Christ from their youth, more and more are coming to faith in their teens through youth groups and youth camps, within a year or two they feel a call to ministry, enroll in a bible college, leave that school with a B.A. in Pastoral Ministry or Youth Ministry and after only being Christians for anywhere from 5-7 years they are now leading a youth ministry or sometimes an entire church.

Given this model, why are we shocked when we see the worship service replaced with every effort to appear “relevant” rather than biblical? How many young, celebrity pastors or “Christian Thought Leaders” have fallen into egregious sin or just plain apostatized in recent days? This isn’t a new problem either. So we continue this pragmatic approach of churning out young ministers by taking every young person that shows an interest in the scriptures or theology and tell them that this must mean that they are called to the ministry, then we find ways to get them there.

If they can afford Seminary, they go there, if Bible College is all they can manage, they go that route, but don’t fret if you can’t afford the traditional institutions, there are correspondence courses, online programs or even programs run by your local denomination to help you get your ordination at a discounted rate!

What this tends to do is ignore spiritual maturity and with the ever increasing number of pastoral positions churches are creating like “Community Outreach Pastor”, “Media and Technology Pastor”, “Young Marrieds’ Pastor” and on and on it goes with assigning pastoral and eldership roles to jobs that either were things that the church did together and were organized by volunteers, or they aren’t actually pastoral positions and the title of “pastor” is diminished when you have 50 pastors on staff but only 5 of them fit the definition of a biblical overseer.

Finally, “Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” It is vitally important that the overseer be one who is well respected even by those outside of the church. The mission field is not within the four walls of the meeting house, it is out in the community. Your pastor should not have a bad reputation with the unbelievers in town, at least not for any reasons beyond representing the truth.

Therefore, his character, his conduct, and his temperament are so important; to minimize arguments from unbelievers. If you mention your church and people roll their eyes and start to list all your pastor’s character flaws, that might be a red flag. If you mention your church and all people can say is, “he always preaches to me”, then you’ve probably got a good one.

I hope you have benefitted from reading this series of articles. These are merely my thoughts about pastoral qualification, filtered through the lens of 1 Timothy 3:1-7. If you’re a pastor, I hope it has made you take inventory of your qualifications and make any necessary changes you may need to make, repent if you need to, or even make some hard decisions like I had to.

If you’re considering pastoral ministry, I hope you have really taken the time to pray about what it is you’re considering. It is no small thing you’re walking into. Many of us enter with visions of large crowds and book deals and national influence, most of us will be blessed to preach to a regular congregation of 20 or more and will have to work another job while we labor over the word of God in anticipation of the Lord’s Day every week.

A lot of us are done within 10 years or less for various reasons, be they financial, moral failures, changes in life circumstances, you name it. What ever it may be, make sure you’re following God into the calling and not man’s ambition and serve your king until your tour is up, be it in a few years or until He calls you home, and should you be sent on a different assignment before you reach glory, serve Him there, because Christians serve Jesus, not just overseers.

Rob Porter is a contributor for The Daily Brief and host of Project World View a podcast that gives a philosophical and religious view to complex issues in a easy to digest format in bite size increments. It can be heard of Spotify, apple podcasts, or wherever you listen. Click the image below to follow him on Facebook

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