Summary: Too many churches have placed men and women into positions of leadership in the church because they were successful in the marketplace or even because they were good communicators. They are looking at performance...
The media has been on a feeding frenzy concerning the Catholic Church scandal that has captured the attention of our nation and even the world. Leaders of the Catholic Church aren’t the only ones that have been hit with allegations concerning sexual misconduct—leaders of the protestant church have made front-page news as victims of abuse have garnered the courage to tell their story.
Many have called for these leaders resignation while others seem to be satisfied with an apology and out of court settlement.
Some of the followers of Catholicism are up in arms that their cardinals were aware of improprieties but sought to cover them up with big payoffs and transfers of the accused to other parishes.
Out of all the questions asked by reporters and journalists I’ve never heard anyone ask the question, “What does the Bible say about all this?” But isn’t this where we need to start? Yes it is.
We must start here because the Bible, which is the Word of God, defines the entry requirements for those who would serve as shepherds of God’s people.
We must start here because it is the Bible that contains the “job description” for those who would serve as officers and overseers of the church.
We must start here because it is the Bible that contains the “code of discipline” for those who would occupy this place of prominence in the church of God.
As Cliff Huxtable once told his son Theo—“I brought you into this world, I can take you out…” The Word of God qualifies the pastor for the job and the Word of God is the church’s authority to remove him.
Let me go on record and say that if the church would only ordain men into pastoral leadership who were qualified according to Scripture, a lot of the misconduct that we observe both inside and outside of the church by so-called “men of God” would be minimized.
In addition to this, the testimony of the church would be spared a great deal of public embarrassment and humiliation and more importantly, the Name of Jesus Christ would be spared much of the reproach it has been receiving of late.
In the New Testament letter of I Timothy, the Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy his “true son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2) and a fellow church planter. In this letter, also called a “pastoral epistle,” Paul is giving Timothy instruction and guidance concerning the care and protection of the churches. The letter focuses upon church life as well as upon leadership qualifications and responsibilities. In chapter 3, verses 1-7 Paul writes:
1 Tim 3:1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.
1 Tim 3:2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
1 Tim 3:3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money.
1 Tim 3:4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity
1 Tim 3:5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?);
1 Tim 3:6 and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.
1 Tim 3:7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
In Paul’s letter to Titus, another church planter, Paul writes to instruct Titus in how to appoint pastors in the church:
Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,
Titus 1:6 namely, if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.
Titus 1:7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,
Titus 1:8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,
Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
Paul is reminding both Timothy and Titus that not everyone is qualified to become an overseer or pastor of God’s church. There are certain characteristics that should mark the man who takes on this position. It is sad that men and women are allowed to become pastors for reasons that have nothing to do with the Scriptural requirements.