Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Would Jesus Like My Pastor?

            In world where young men, like myself, receive many different influences shaping our concept of what a pastor should be, I have been burdened to ask: As a pastor, what does Jesus want me to be? Do I need to wear cool jeans, sport the latest hairstyle, buy an Ipad, and write my sermons at a coffee shop? I do some of these, by the way! I wonder if the next generation of church leaders (myself included!) focused more on what Jesus wants to see in us than he might use us for greater things? This conviction has grown in my heart as a result of Dr. John Hammett asking two questions: 1) Why are character qualifications so important for a pastor? 2) How important is it for a congregation to be able to see the example of their pastor’s life? I did a brief exegesis of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 in order to search my own heart so that I might considered a biblical pastor…

Paul said:

1 Timothy 3:1-7
 "The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 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? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil." (ESV)

Titus 1:5-9
 "This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." (ESV) 

The office of overseer (ἐπισκοπή, ἐπίσκοπος[1]) is a wonderful place to serve in the ministry. It is, however, an incredibly daunting task for the man whom the Lord has called. Thus, in keeping with his character, God provides direction for the church by helping her to recognize those men who are qualified and possibly called to the office by the Holy Spirit. In light of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, which are the key texts for identifying the qualifications of overseers, several questions arise regarding the importance of the office and the integrity of the overseer.
            First, one might ask why Paul is so adamant in listing these specific character qualifications? One finds the answer to this question in the two aforementioned key texts regarding this issue. Specifically, according to Paul, the character qualifications are important for six reasons. First, these qualifications are important because “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1). The office of oversee is “noble” or important and of high status. Second, these qualifications are important because if he cannot exhibit them in his most important role as husband and father then “how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Tim. 3:5). Third, these qualifications are important because failing to meet some may make him more apt to “become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1 Tim. 3:6). Fourth, these qualifications are important in order that he will be “well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” (1Tim. 3:7). Fifth, these qualifications are important because “an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.” (Titus 1:7) and thus he has no valid accusations of wrongdoing. Last, and most important the overseer must exhibit these characteristics “so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9).
                A second question may be regarding the importance of a congregation’s witness of these attributes in their pastor’s life. The very definition of the office of overseer is one that indicates modeling and exemplifying righteousness through a vibrant relationship with the Lord. While all believers, with the overseer included, have an equal opportunity walk with the Lord, the overseer is a man who is called to provide a godly example for the church as God’s appointed leader for that congregation and called to be the foremost model of Christian love to the world. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that the overseer fulfills these qualifications and acts as a model of godliness for the congregation.
            So pastors and church…What is important to you? What is important to Jesus? We must be intent on fulfilling these attributes so that we can contend for the faith and stand for the truth. Churches must seek Timothy and Titus pastors. Pastors must commit their lives to being the men described therein.
            What would happen in your city, state, country, and world if pastors everywhere cared more about Jesus’ qualifications than their jeans, haircuts, toys, and trends?


[1] In translating ἐπισκοπή (53.69), ἐπισκοπέω (53.70), or ἐπίσκοπος, it is important to try to combine the concepts of both service and leadership, in other words, the responsibility of caring for the needs of a congregation as well as directing the activities of the membership. See: Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996, c1989). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament : Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (1:541). New York: United Bible societies.

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