Fighting Fundamentalist

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Qualities of the Pastor, NOT the Qualifications of a Pastor

The office of a pastor is misunderstood by many.
Some may view the pastor as one who carries the load of the church. To some he is an employee of the church to perform certain spelled out duties such as a CEO, and/or CFO. To others he is the president of the board of directors that call themselves deacons (another misunderstood office). The Bible points up that a being a pastor is not so much about what a man does, as much as it is who he is. It’s not his position in the church described, it is his profession of Christ defined. It’s not about his certified qualifications, it's about his character qualities. Some may ask, "What is a biblical pastor?” To answer this question our appeal must be to the Scriptures.

If this were an expositional piece on Acts (and it is not) one may perhaps lay it out like this:

Paul's Example to Pastors (please read Acts 20:17-27).
Note: Paul is not using mere words here. Paul is not being haughty, with a "looking down his nose" attitude. Instead, Paul has lived the life he is talking about. Paul is a fine example of a pastor. May God raise up more like him in our day.

Paul's Exhortation to Pastors (please read Acts 20: 28-35).
Note: Keep in mind that Paul is exhorting these elders in words also. Paul is bringing to their memory what he did and how he has lived, etching in their mind the training they have received (v.31). Paul is saying in effect, "...this is how to be a good minister ... so be a good minister!" You and I can, and should be good ministers in our day.

These thoughts of Paul were expanded, and delivered to one of his young protégés... Timothy.

This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1Timothy 3:1-7)

Paul parallels these thoughts when he addressed the following shipment to another one of his protégés, Titus,

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1: 6-9)

Let's unpack these thoughts of Paul so we too can value the tenacity of our pastor/s. BTW taking a closer look is not the same as inventing hidden meanings in our texts. There is plenty, enough here in plain, normal language to convey just what the Holy Spirit intends.

In 1Timothy 1:5; 3:1; 4:9; Titus 3:8; Paul uses the exact same segue from one thought to the next. It is, in effect, an introduction to a new body of ideas he wishes to convey. It is Paul's way of arresting our interest so we will pay attention to what will follow. He comes out like the quickest draw in the west, with two six guns bold and blazing... "This is a true saying..."! The word in the Greek is pis-tos' it means, "objectively trustworthy; subjectively trustful: - believe (-ing, -r), faithful (-ly), sure, true." (Strong's) With our attention captured, and focused on what follows Paul says, "...if a man..." (ei tis GK. it means "any man." I take this to mean any man: when this was first written, when this was first read, when it is being read in our day, and when future generations read it till the Lord comes) "...desire the office of a bishop..." (Strong's says, "episkopē ...specifically [means] the Christian 'episcopate':- the office of a 'bishop', bishoprick, visitation.") ...he desireth a good work."

In both letters it is clear that Paul is speaking about the office, position, responsibility, or, more biblically, the stewardship of a bishop.

This is a true saying, if a man (ei tes, any man) desire (oregomai) the office of a bishop, he desireth (epithumeō) a good work. The fact that the first word translated "desire" oregomai is in the middle voice and carries the meaning, to stretch oneself, that is, reach out after (long for)... and the second word translated "desire" from epithumeō to set the heart upon, that is, long for (rightfully or otherwise):- covet, desire... lends credence to the proposal that this is a permanent office of the church that any man through the church age may desire. "What kind of work is it?", one may ask. It is a good work! John Darby has commented on this saying, "The apostle next points out to Timothy the qualities necessary for a bishop or a deacon... He supposes here that there were some who desired to undertake this work. It was a good work." (Synopsis of the Old and New Testament J. N. Darby) I would add that, " still is a good work!"

Think about it...
The qualities of a pastor are then listed. These should be plain enough to understand; read them trough carefully. Highlight the one's that are in both passages note the ones that are not. It may also be worth while to notice the positives and negative (eg. what a pastor is and what a pastor is not). See if you agree with me that a biblical pastor is who a man is not what he does. It is who a man is (inwardly) that determines what he does (outwardly) not the other way around.

In His fellowship,
Brother John


Who Links Here