17 – God’s Kind of Pastor, Part 3

Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves whatever is good, self-restrained, fair, holy, self-controlled, holding firmly to the teaching of the trustworthy Word, that he may be able to encourage by healthy teaching, and convict of their error those who object.   (Titus 1:8-9)

With these verses Paul begins to list the positive qualifications of a pastor. First, the pastor must be hospitable. That is to say, unlike Diotrophes (who wanted the place of preeminence, and would not share the limelight with others — 3 John 10), the pastor will be delighted to help others in need and put their interests above his own.

Second, the elder is to be one who loves whatever is good. That phrase translates the single Greek word philagathos, which carries the idea of having strong affection for that which is intrinsically good. A pastor should love those things and those people who are genuinely good and be a promoter of those things in the church and in his community.

Third, he must be self-restrained or “sensible” as the NASB translates it. The sensible person is in command of his mind. He has control of the things he thinks about and does. He does not allow circumstances or the immorality or foolishness of others to distract him and gain his attention and interest. He not only does not become involved in things that are outright immoral and unspiritual but also avoids things that are trivial, foolish, and unproductive. He knows his priorities and is devoted to them.

Fourth, he must also be fair or “just.” It denotes that which is proper, right, and fitting. He has a commitment to and understanding of that which is just and equitable. This quality is crucial to the credibility of a leader.

He must be holy. That is, his lifestyle ought to exhibit the “set apart” (the meaning of the word “holy”) behavior of the instructed, mature Christian. He will be growingly putting off the old sinful ways and, in their place, putting on the new biblical alternatives that please God.

And he will be self-controlled. The self-controlled pastor walks with God in the integrity of his heart. He has the continuing grace of God working in his life to the degree that he is spiritually mature and morally pure. He does not walk uprightly because others are watching him or there might be consequences for his ministry if he does not. Living a life that is pleasing to God is innate within him. He does so without the need for external controls on his life.

In addition to these personal qualities, the good pastor must hold firmly to the trustworthy Word. He must be doctrinally sound, exegetical astute, and must base his preaching and his counsel wholly upon the Scriptures. When he fits this rubric, he will be able (positively) to encourage by healthy teaching and (negatively) convict of their error those who object. The latter task is essential in a pastor although often lacking in men who desire only to please. Yet because doctrine affects living (cf. Titus 1:1), bad doctrine leads to bad living. Pastors must be able to refute doctoral error and willing to do it as aggressively as Paul did.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *