If you’ve been tracking my posts recently, you know that I have just returned from speaking at a conference in Australia. I understand the significance of conferences and their service to the body of Christ, but as a pastor, it is very easy to get caught up with the hoopla and adrenaline that big gatherings bring.
It is also very easy to get by with lowered standards because conferences—particularly large ones—keep people at a distance. By that, I mean people don’t get to see you up close. In a local church, regular interface with members and staff reveal the good, bad and uglies about you.
That’s why I am writing this post: to remind myself of the noble call of God on my life and the high standards that come with it. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, writes:
“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1, NIV).
The following are the specifics for those who aspire to be a church pastor or Christian leader:
“Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach …” (v. 2).
Faithful. Disciplined. Respectable. Generous and kind. Can teach. Interesting that most of these have little to do with teaching but are the character qualities that give us the platform to teach.
" ... Not given to drunkenness … " (v. 3).
These days, this does not just mean alcohol but includes substance abuse. I consider overeating part of this. Some foods are addictive (i.e., sugar, and I’m sure you can think of others). To be clear, I am not saying leaders can’t take in any wine, sugar, ice cream or sodas—but that they are not prone to over-intake or substance abuse.
“… Not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (v. 3).
Gets along with people well. Not a lover of money. Simply put, generating money is not his prime motivation in life.
“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect” (v. 4).
Has a good relationship with his children. Leads a family that believes, follows and respects him.
“(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)” (v. 5).
I can almost hear Steve Murrell say, “Let’s agree to build a church movement where we will never sacrifice our families on the altar of ministry.” Thank God for Steve’s early directives.
“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” (v. 6)
Not a newbie in the things of God. I don’t think that this standard is simply about years in ministry but also an ability to get deeper in the spiritual life and get better in one's role as a leader. However, even as the leader progresses, he must remain humble. One way to see that is to ask if he is accountable to others and who are the people who oversee him.
“He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” (v. 7).
While we know that no one is perfect and there will always be something that we can all be accused of, especially in this day of technology and empowered social networks, there should be an overwhelming agreement in the leader’s good reputation, particularly by community leaders.
Father, thank You for the reminder that we have been called to a noble call. Thank You that it is not by might nor by power nor by our human gifting and abilities but simply by Your grace that we can rise to standards to which You have called us.
I believe that if pastors and leaders keep the standard, we can build churches that make disciples and change the world!
Joey Bonifacio is senior pastor of Victory Fort, one of 15 congregations that make up Victory Church in the metro Manila area of the Philippines. He is also the author of The LEGO Principle, which draws parallels between the famous toymaker and core discipleship elements. Visit Joey’s website at joeybonfacio.com, or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
For the original article, visit joeybonifacio.com.