Summary: Must you rule your house in absolute perfection?
Preacher, Is Your House In Order?
1 Tim 3:4-5
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) (KJV)
Over the years, I have known and have heard of various circumstances in a pastor’s life that has made him consider whether he should leave the ministry or not. Some did and some did not and some that did should not have and some that did not should have done so. It gets to be a sticky situation and often the support or lack of support of the church makes the final determination.
While pastors are expected to live to a "higher" standard they are not and should not be expected to be perfect. Should perfection be required then no one should be a pastor as there are none that fit the specifications to the jot or tittle. I have known some really good pastors and some not so good but the one thing they had in common were feet of clay. One major difference between the good ones and the bad ones is that the good ones knew their frailty and humanity while the bad ones thought they had already apprehended what Paul said he had not apprehended after thirty years of ministry.
I have had to consider the "ruleth his own house well" qualification of a pastor recently due to a situation involving a dear friend of mine. Sadly, the whole question of his "suitability" and "scripturalness" comes about due to a change in our society for it involved an adult child living at home. Had the "child" been involved with the same problem and lived in an apartment there would have been no issue at all. It seems that the location created the "offense" and accusation of another minister that my friend did not live what he preached. A bit extreme considering that this minister had an openly rebellious child as well. The big difference, at least in his mind, is that his "child" does not live at home.
I question the locality issue. If I am responsible, and I don’t believe that I am, for what my adult children choose by their free will to do then does their location really matter? I don’t think so. In Deuteronomy 21:18-21, we are told to bring rebellious and stubborn sons to the elders and they would stone him to death. We are not told his age or place of residence only his sins. He was at the age of accountability at least. Did he live with his parents or just in the same village? We do not know, but I for one am glad that we are in the New Testament or I would not be here to consider this subject as my mother would have had me stoned long before my twenty first birthday, which was the age considered as adulthood then. I lived with her until I was eighteen and then entered the military. Today, eighteen is considered an adult. I disagree with that law, but that is the law.
I waited until my son was twenty-one and then I released him from my authority and placed him directly under the authority of God as an adult even though he was still living under my roof. His mother and I gave him a ring and I prayed over him both blessing and releasing him. I told him that from that day on he answered directly to God. I would always love him and be there for him, but he was a man with all the responsibility that goes with it.
He is still living with me and he has made some errors in judgment and we have discussed some of them and worked through them, but I have not thrown him out (thought about it at times) nor stoned him. Maybe that makes me a bad pastor and maybe it doesn’t. I have made some bad judgment calls and my Father has not cast me out though we have had discussions about those bad calls. Since the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof I live in my Father’s presence if not in the main house.
Our bad boy in Deuteronomy was flagrantly and openly drunk and a glutton, which by the way doesn’t mean he had a larger frame than others do because he overeats. The word in the Hebrew speaks more of a moral looseness and being prodigal. The eating issue may be part of his "par-tay" lifestyle as a drunk resulting in vomiting as was the case with Romans that went from party to party eating and drinking then forcing themselves to vomit to make room for the next party’s entrees. In any case, this lad is openly in sin and the parents have tried to get him to turn around to no avail.