I remember a few years ago when a major league baseball player was fined by his team for statements he made in public. Radio talk shows discussed the matter for several days. Some callers ranted about the right to free speech while others pointed out the employer’s right to set rules for their employees’ behavior.
My favorite caller made a statement like this: “I’m not much of an athlete, but I’m pretty sure I could hold my tongue for the salary of a major league pitcher.” Listening to his comments on the radio that day, I remember saying to myself, “Exactly.”
Later, several of my pastor friends and I laughed at the thought of one of us making inappropriate statements from the pulpit under the guise of the right to free speech. However, much like the caller on the radio, we are more than happy to hold our tongue (and watch our lives) for the privilege of serving as pastors.
The pastorate has clearer qualifications and standards than any other profession imaginable. First Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-9 give details of these pastoral standards and qualifications. Here’s a breakdown:
- Above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6)
- The husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6)
- Sober-minded (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8)
- Self-controlled (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8)
- Respectable (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8)
- Hospitable (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8)
- Able to teach (1 Tim. 3:2)
- Not a drunkard (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)
- Not violent (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)
- Gentle (1 Tim. 3:3)
- Not quarrelsome (1 Tim. 3:3)
- Not a lover of money (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7)
- Manages his household well (1 Tim. 3:4; Titus 1:6)
- Keeps his children submissive (1 Tim. 3:4; Titus 1:6)
- Not a recent convert (1 Tim. 3:6)
- Well thought of by outsiders (1 Tim. 3:7)
- Not arrogant (1 Tim. 3:6; Titus 1:7)
- Not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7)
- A lover of good (Titus 1:8)
- Holy (Titus 1:8)
- Holds firm to the trustworthy Word as taught (Titus 1:9)
This list identifies key competencies, behaviors, gifts and character traits a pastor must possess. Meeting these standards doesn’t mean a pastor has “arrived” as a Christian. Instead, they indicate that He is “arriving.”
In other words, all of the qualifications relate to sanctification. This is a vital component for any pastor because it means he has been justified by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. He is a sinner made righteous in Christ alone. His continual growth in Christ is an example to the congregation.
Some of the biblical qualifications for a pastor describe gifts or skills bestowed by God, such as being able to teach. What we generally refer to as a “call to pastor” is made up greatly by a man’s gifting and desires given by God.
Finally, other qualifications speak to the pastor’s reputation, such as being well thought of by outsiders. The reputation of the pastor is a crucial issue because his role reflects the person of Christ and is only as effective as the degree to which his congregation trusts him.
Although a “morality clause” in a major league baseball contract may include more words than the text of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 put together, it certainly doesn’t carry more weight.
The qualifications for a pastor serve to 1) honor Christ, 2) maintain a level of competency within the church’s leadership and 3) guard the trust of the congregation. While “freedom of speech” may not apply to the pastorate, the qualifications of the role protect the integrity and reputation of a greater message: freedom in Christ.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Wow, pastoring is not for everybody!” I think the apostle Paul, who wrote 1 Timothy and Titus, would reply, “Exactly.”
Scott Attebery is executive director of DiscipleGuide Church Resources, a department of the Baptist Missionary Association of America. You can read his blog at ScottAttebery.com
For the original article, visit pastors.com.