Summary: What characteristics should mark a pastor’s life? Paul briefly described some qualifications that the elders or overseers should have. Paul had given Timothy a similar set of instructions for the church in Ephesus.
PASTORS (Clergy, Ministers, Preachers)
WHO PASTORS ARE
What characteristics should mark a pastor’s life?
BIBLE READING: Titus 1:5-9
KEY BIBLE VERSE: I left you there on the island of Crete so that you could do whatever was needed to help strengthen each of its churches, and I asked you to appoint pastors in every city who would follow the instructions I gave you. (Titus 1:5, TLB)
Pastors should model personal obedience to God. Paul briefly described some qualifications that the elders or overseers should have. Paul had given Timothy a similar set of instructions for the church in Ephesus (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 5:22). Notice that most of the qualifications involve character, not knowledge or skill. A person’s life-style and relationships provide a window into his or her character. Consider these qualifications as you evaluate a person for a position of leadership in your church. It is important to have leaders who can effectively preach God’s Word, but it is even more important to have those who can live out God’s Word and be examples for others to follow.
BIBLE READING: 1 Corinthians 4:1-13
KEY BIBLE VERSE: I have used Apollos and myself as examples to illustrate what I have been saying: that you must not have favorites. You must not be proud of one of God’s teachers more than another. (1 Corinthians 4:6, TLB)
Pastors are not to be status seekers. The Corinthians had split into various cliques, each following its favorite preacher (Paul, Apollos, Peter, etc.). The people in each clique believed they were the only ones to have the whole truth, and thus they felt spiritually superior. But Paul told the groups not to boast about being tied to a particular preacher, because each preacher was simply a humble servant who had suffered for the same message of salvation in Jesus Christ. No preacher of God has more status than another.
BIBLE READING: 1 Timothy 3:1-15
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (1 Timothy 3:2-4, NIV)
Church leaders should be reflections of God’s truth. To be a church leader ("overseer") is a heavy responsibility because the church belongs to the living God. Church leaders should not be elected because they are popular, nor should they be allowed to push their way to the top. Instead, they should be chosen by the church because of the respect for the truth, both in what they believe and in how they live.
Church leaders should be faithful to family responsibilities. Christian workers and volunteers sometimes make the mistake of thinking their work is so important that they are justified in ignoring their families. Spiritual leadership, however, must begin at home. If a man is not willing to care for, discipline, and teach his children, he is not qualified to lead the church. Don’t allow your volunteer activities to detract from your family responsibilities.
WHAT PASTORS DO
What are the most important responsibilities of pastors?
BIBLE READING: Deuteronomy 18:1-8
KEY BIBLE VERSE: For the LORD your God has chosen them and their descendants out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the LORD’s name always. (Deuteronomy 18:5, NIV)
Pastors should serve the people. The priests and Levites served much the same function as our ministers today. Their duties included (1) teaching the people about God, (2) setting an example of godly living, (3) caring for the sanctuary and its workers, and (4) distributing the offerings. Because priests could not own property or pursue outside business interests, God made special arrangements so that people would not take advantage of them. Often churches take advantage of the men and women God has brought to lead them. For example, ministers may not be paid in accordance with their skills or the time they put in. Or pastors may be expected to attend every evening meeting, even to the detriment of their family life. As you look at your own church in light of God’s Word, what ways do you see to honor the leaders God has given you?
BIBLE READING: Micah 3:1-12
KEY BIBLE VERSE: Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they lean upon the LORD and say, "Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us." (Micah 3:11, NIV)
Pastors are to lead others toward God. Micah denounced the sins of the leaders, priests, and prophets ("leaders of Jacob" and "rulers")—those responsible for teaching the people right from wrong. These leaders, who should have known the law and taught it to the people, had set the law aside and had become the worst of sinners. They were taking advantage of the very people they were supposed to serve. All sin is bad, but the sin that leads others astray is the worst of all.