This passage, admittedly, is not for many people very practical for the reason that they have no desire to become a pastor.
I myself have not sensed any calling at this point from God to become a pastor. Whether that changes or not, I don’t know, but if I haven’t been called up to this point, I doubt it will change now. Then again, I never thought I’d become a missionary either, and here I have been in Japan for 20 years now.
But for those of you want to become a pastor, this passage is very important. And for churches looking for a pastor, this passage is also very important. For it sets forth the qualifications that a pastor (overseer is the term it uses) or any church elder should have.
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. (1)
The words that strike me most here are “if anyone sets his heart on being an overseer.”
I look at my life and that has never been my life goal. But for some, God has put that desire in their hearts. And Paul says, “If that’s where your heart is, that’s a good thing.”
But then he lays out the qualifications of a pastor. And I think it’s noteworthy that Paul doesn’t start with what seminary you went to or what kind of education you have. He starts with character.
He says, “So you want to be a pastor? What kind of character do you have? That’s what I’m most interested in.”
Are you above reproach? Is there any impropriety that people can rightfully accuse you of? Are you a person that people can look to as an example in how to live?
Practically speaking, are you faithful to your wife? Are you faithful to your marriage vows? If you are not faithful to your wife, how can we expect you to be faithful to God and his church?
Are you in control of your emotions, or are you quick to fly off the handle?
Do you practice self-control in all you do? In eating, drinking, dealing with members of the opposite sex, in spending money, in spending your time?
Are you a person that’s easy to respect because of how you live your life? Do you have a good reputation, not only among those within the church, but those outside as well?
Are you hospitable, willing to open your home to others, generous with your time and money?
Are you given to violence, or are you gentle, even when provoked…by your wife and your children especially, but by anyone?
Are you peaceable, or are you quick to argue with people? Do you in fact take delight in causing a ruckus and stirring things up?
Are you a lover of money? Is money your god? Are you looking for the “good life” as defined by the world? Or are you as Paul was, content in all circumstances? (Philippians 4:11-13)
Do you manage your family well? Do your wife and children respect and love you?
All these are matters of character. It’s also one reason why if you’re a young Christian, you should put off ideas of becoming a pastor. The quality of humility is vital if you want to become a pastor. More than a few pastors have fallen because of pride, and people who become pastors when they are too young as Christians are especially susceptible to that.
If you have all these things, then there’s one last qualification you need. The ability to teach. You may know what you believe, but can you communicate it to those around you clearly?
But again, you may be the most gifted teacher, able to teach God’s word clearly and effectively, but if you don’t have the character to go along with that gift, you are not ready to be a pastor.
Do you want to become a pastor? What kind of character do you have?