The Character And Conduct Of A Faithful Pastor
I Timothy 3:1-7 And Titus 1:7-9
There are many necessary gualifications which must be found in a man, before he can be given the charge of ruling the house of God, before he should be allowed to assume the responsibilities of the pastoral office. Every local church has the right to expect, and the responsibility to insist, that the man who fills her pulpit meet those qualifications plainly set forth in Holy Scripture. Any church seeking a pastor must, to the best of her ability, be certain that the man who is called as her pastor is a man of such character, gifts and behavior as the Scriptures require. Once the man is seated in the pastoral office, it is too late. A church trying to get rid of a pastor who does not meet her expectations is much like a woman divorcing a husband who is not what she hoped he would be. It is always a painful mess, from which she is not likely to recover. The wise thing to do is to find out everything possible about the man before he is called as pastor. A church should take at least as much care in calling a pastor as a business would in hiring an employee. Find out about his financial affairs, his credit rating, his employment history, his home life and his personal reputation. If he is not a man of proven integrity and responsibility in these areas, he has absolutely no business in any pulpit.
While we must not minimize the vital necessity of gospel doctrine, (No man is fit to be a pastor who is not sound in doctrine, one who believes and preaches the gospel of God's free and sovereign grace in Christ, one who is thoroughly Calvinistic.), yet much importance is placed upon the character and conduct of the man who preaches the gospel. I and II Timothy and Titus were written specifically to teach us what the character and conduct of a pastor must be (I Tim. 3:l5). In a word, if a man's life is not ruled by gospel principles, his preaching of the gospel is a mockery both to the God for whom he speaks and the people who hear him. The qualifications which the pastor must possess are easily divided into three areas.
l. THE PASTOR MUST BE A MAN OF MATURE SPIRITUAL CHARACTER. He must not be a novice, one who is inexperienced and immature in spiritual things. He must have knowledge and understanding in the gospel of Christ, so that he is capable of teaching others. And he must be apt to teach, both well-versed in the Scriptures and gifted of God with the ability to preach the gospel.
2. THE PASTOR MUST BE A MAN OF EXEMPLARY DOMESTIC CHARACTER. He is to be the husband of one wife. This is not a command that he be married, or never be married but once. It is an injunction against allowing a ploygamist to occupy the pulpit. Polygamy was common in the Gentile world in those early days. A polygamist who was converted was not expected to abandon his wives. But he was forbidden the pastoral office, lest polygamy be looked upon with approval. He must rule his own house, having his children in subjection to him. There is no room in the gospel ministry for a spineless, hen-pecked man whose wife dominates over him, or for a father who does not discipline, govern and control his children. If a man does not have the reverence and respect of his wife and children, he will certainly never gain the respect of a congregation which will allow him to rule the house of God.
3. THE PASTOR MUST BE A MAN OF HONORABLE PERSONAL CHARACTER. His life is to be an example of godliness, faithfulness, devotion to Christ, hospitality and generosity. He must be blameless, not in the eyes of God (No man is without sin!), but in his dealings with men. The pastor must live before men in such a way that none can justly charge him with dishonesty, immorality, or lack of integrity. He must not be a man given to vice. He must not be given to wine, excessive drinking. He must not be a quarrelsome, hot-tempered man, but patient. He must not be covetous, greedy and desirous of luxury and riches. That man who calls for men and women to give and sacrifice for the cause of Christ must lead the way. He must exercise modesty with himself and his family, in his attire, in the car he drives, and in the place where he lives. Extravagance is intolerable in a preacher, unless it is an extravagance of kindness, sacrifice, hospitality, love and vigilance. And extravagance in these things is impossible.