Whoever is beyond suspicion, is the husband of only one wife, who has trustworthy children not open to a charge of incorrigibility or rebellion. An overseer, as God’s steward, must be beyond suspicion, not one who wants his own way, not hot-headed, not dependent on wine, not a fighter, not greedy for money; (Titus 1:6-7)
The pastor must have trustworthy children not open to the charge incorrigibility or rebellion. This requirement often has been read too rigidly. All pastors have children who are childish. The terms used, however, are strong ones: literally, “unsalvageableness” and of “wild, untamed” behavior. He is speaking of children whose conduct corresponds to Eli’s sons behavior (1 Samuel 2:22-25; 3:13), not of the sinful behavior that every child exhibits. The pastor’s children must be loyal to him and not rebel against his discipline. As Paul told Timothy, he must “manage his household well.” After all, much counseling and pastoral ministry concerns family problems, a large number of which have to do with children. It should be evident that the pastor must have learned how to raise his own family if he is going to instruct others in doing so. I plan to say more about this in a separate blog later.
As God’s steward he must also be beyond suspicion. This applies to motives, to the truth he dispenses, and to his handling of money. There have been far too many scandals in the church because this qualification has been neglected. Pastors must do all they can to avoid any suspicion in these areas. Ministry is a stewardship in which one serves God as He has instructed.
The elder must not be one who wants his own way. That is to say, he is thoughtful of the desires and wishes of others. He is not so self-centered that he must have his way even when giving in to others would cause difficulties to cease. That he will be dealing with many persons who are self-centered is a given. Unless his attitude is different, he will not be able to handle their issues properly. Pastors will discover that good teaching requires one to give of himself to those he ministers; not merely demand that his people do as he sees fit.
He must not be hot-headed. To lose control makes him useless as a pastor. He believes that a soft answer turns away wrath Proverbs 15:1. Again and again church folk will do and say things that could push the button of those who allow themselves to be wired that way and pastors must be able to keep their cool in the midst of gross wrong, outrageous actions and the like. All of these things are part and parcel of the pastoral enterprise.
He must not be dependent on wine. Pastors often deal with drunkards and drug addicts. What will they tell them if they, themselves, have fallen prey to similar problems? Perhaps this again is something that should be addressed in a separate post. Let me just add something that I will clearly admit is opinion. We must be honest with the Scriptures. They do not teach that believers, or even pastors, must totally abstain from alcohol. See 1 Timothy 5:23.
In my case, it should be obvious to all that I struggle with my weight. I have redoubled my efforts to lose in recent days but still, it is a problem for me. I already know that I have to fight for control in this one area of my life. I do not need to expose myself to other issues that would also require me to exercise self-control and self-discipline. Therefore, I decided a long time ago to simplify this area of my life by abstaining completely from alcohol. I do not believe any of the joys of my life have been diminished because of that decision. Because alcohol is such a pervasive problem in our culture, and because the warnings in Scripture about drunkenness are so dire, I would urge the same decision on other pastors.
They also must not be fighters. Paul speaks, literally, of those who get into fist fights. But, though that may not be likely, the warning might apply to the overly argumentative person or the one who takes up every verbal challenge. The wise pastor knows when and how to respond and when to remain silent.
He must not be greedy for money. The television preachers who preach a prosperity gospel have wreaked havoc in our day. They have shamelessly enriched themselves by preaching heresy and manipulating the emotions of unsuspecting followers. But this is not a problem only among high profile preachers. My immediate predecessor, in one of the churches I pastored, was such a man. He “worked” the church much like a farmer would “work” his farm. He especially befriended many of the older, financially secure members of the church, spent long hours “calling” on them, and gained their trust. He then would explain his “needs” to them and persuade them to help him financially with his “ministry.” One elderly couple even bought him a new car!
With that, Paul’s concludes his list of negative elements to be wary of when calling a pastor. In our next post we will begin looking at his positive qualifications.