“If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” 1 Timothy 3:1
When you think of a “Gospel work” what comes to mind? Perhaps homeless ministry? Widow care? Evangelism? Helping the needy? All of those things definitely can be good and great Gospel spreading works. But what about sitting in on a Q & A to examine elder candidates? It’s probably not the first thing on your list, yet it is an incredible gospel work, indicated by Paul’s formulaic statement that he earlier used to introduce the gospel itself (cf. 1 Tim. 1:15) and has massive bearings on all of the former items listed. So when you think of what we’re doing right now in our Church, let that come to your mind as you consider your role in it. It is a good, necessary, and valuable Gospel work.
We had our first two Q&A’s this past Sunday of our elder candidates. Many questions were asked. Some covered personal matters (finances, how you spend your free time, family life, etc). Some covered theological matters (Views on Revelation, free will, female pastors, and more). Some pertained to philosophy of ministry (vision for the church, definition of Biblical teaching, etc.). We have 1 more Q&A this Tuesday at 6:30pm at the church. I hope you will come.
In order to continue to help you think Biblically, I’d like to offer a few reasons why you should care about this process and some brief thoughts on the first 2 qualifications listed.
Why should you care? 4 Reasons:
- You will be the ones responsible for affirming these men as pastors/elders.
- You will be expected to follow and submit to their teaching.
- You should want to imitate their manner of doctrine and life.
- Whether you are called to pastor or not, this list of character traits is truly expected of all believers and it would be valuable for you to consider your own life in light of the qualifications.
6 Qualifications You Won’t See:
Before we get into what the text DOES list. Let’s briefly mention what you will NOT see in the requirements. You will NOT see the following items listed as qualifications of a pastor:
- Multiple years of experience either as pastor, deacon, intern, etc.
- Age requirement.
- A seminary degree.
- High charisma.
- Dynamic speaking ability.
All of these things tend to be aspects of what is looked for in many churches when people consider elder candidates. While there may be value to the above characteristics, they are not Biblical qualifications and should not serve as a basis for making a decision. So lets begin to look at what IS listed in the Scriptures.
An Overseer Must Be:
- Before we get into the formal list in verse 2, we actually must ensure we don’t miss a crucial qualification in verse 1. That is, simply put, there must be a desire for the work of the ministry. The desire to be a pastor is not inherently a bad desire. It is good to desire work that God calls “good.” Furthermore, 1 Peter 5:2 exhorts elders to execute their task, willingly, “not under compulsion.” That is, it should be obvious to all in the body that these men love the gospel, love the church, and desire to serve God in whatever capacity He sees fit. This divinely placed desire manifests itself in such a way that a man is driven to pursue Christ-likeness in his own life and the lives of others such that he gives himself willingly to this work of the ministry.
- The next statement is the formal introduction, like a header that sums up what comes after: “He must be above reproach.” He is considered above reproach when he is faithful to his wife, self-controlled, sober-minded, respectable, hospitable, etc. In other words, this man has a consistent and established pattern of responding in a Christ-like manner across the spectrum of areas in his life. This cannot mean there is NO sin in their lives, otherwise, all would be disqualified. D.A. Carson explains it as follows: “This doesn’t mean that such a person is sinlessly perfect; there’s too much in Scripture to the contrary of that sort of expectation. What it does mean is that there is no obvious inconsistency or flaw that everyone agrees is there and serves as a reproach to the man.”
In summary, that’s what we want to affirm. Men who are characteristically responding with Christian virtues to the trials and circumstances of their lives and have a divinely placed desire for the work of the ministry. We will work further into the list in the coming days and weeks. I trust this will be beneficial for you as we continue in the process and get closer to voting on June 3rd.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Randy Pauley, Pastor