Monday, February 8, 2021

Waging the Worthy War #3 - Qualified to Serve

 Waging the Worthy War #3 - Qualified to Serve

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Text: 1 Timothy 3            

Introduction: Signs your Pastor may be a fanatic for the Andy Griffith Show.
10. He has the ushers carry a holstered pistol and keep one bullet in their top pocket.
9. The pastor calls the lead male singer in the choir, Ernest T. Bass.
8. Constantly refers to the associate pastor as "Barne"
7. He keeps talking about starting a home mission outreach in Mt. Pilot.
6. He wants the choir director to wear a marine uniform and have the nickname, Gomer.
4. Every sermon about the evils of drinking he hold up a picture of Otis Campbell.
2. Instead of a parting hymn he has everybody stand and whistle the Mayberry Theme.
and the number one reason you can tell your pastor may be fanatic for the Andy Griffith Show is...

1. Last Sunday's Sermon Was: "Sin - Nip It In The Bud!!!!!!"

Now it might be awkward to have a Pastor that it is a Andy Griffith show fanatic. Who knows for some of you it might be his best asset, nothing wrong with loving a little Mayberry. But let me give you some names that you might find almost as familiar as Andy Griffith but for a much different reason.

Bill Hybels, Tod Bentley, Carl Lentz, Ravi Zacharias, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jack Shaap. All these men were pastors or leaders of some area of the Lord’s work, the Gospel or Christianity at larger, who in the last few years have brought terrible disrepute and disgrace to the cause of Christ. Recently the Fort-Worth Star Telegram did a scathing investigative series on immorality within the independent Baptist church, at least at they defined it. What they found and it was not that hard to find, was that pastors, associate pastors, youth leaders not only were guilty of the worse kinds of immorality within the wall of the church, but that those sins were covered up, hidden and the men responsible were allowed to stay in the pulpit or shuffled to other churches where they continued their immoral practices.

Our passage today, 1 Timothy chapter 3 is the prevention to these kinds of failures. If it was applied without excuse, the vast majority of those famous men, would never have been pastors in the first place and if they had been would have been removed before they could bring greater damage to their churches and the cause of Christ.

1 Timothy 3 is the passage that sets the qualifications for being a pastor, because of that you almost never hear a sermon about it outside of an ordination or a lesson on it outside of Bible College. That is a mistake  because as we know the Bible always has application to all of us as God’s children and 1 Timothy 3 should be applied to all of as New Testament believers, in the pews  as well as behind the pulpit. What God requires of his pastors, is also what he expects of his church. The pastor may be held more tightly to that standard and if he falls from it, he should lose that office, but the standards, the ethics, the qualities of a pastor and a deacon are the qualities God expects in all those who serve Him, all those who would be “Qualified to Serve”

1 Timothy 3:1-7 1  This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

The Office of Pastor

The New Testament words "bishop," "pastor," and "elder" are synonymous.

Specifically, bishop means "overseer," and the elders had the responsibility of overseeing the work of the church (Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-3).

"Elder" is the translation of the Greek word presbutes, which means "an old man." Paul used the word presbytery in 1 Timothy 4:14, referring not to a denomination, but to the "eldership" of the assembly that ordained Timothy. Elders and bishops (two names for the same office, Titus 1:5, 7) were mature people with spiritual wisdom and experience.

Finally, "pastor" means "shepherd," one who leads and cares for the flock of God, this is the term used most often today.

The Man In the Office

First, though it should not have to be said, yet in this day and age it must be said, “A pastor of the Lord’s church, must be a man. It has always been a man, and if the church is to remain a true church of the Lord, the pastor will always be a man.”

Every reference to pastoral qualifications here and later in Titus is masculine. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, never hints of or leaves the option for women to be pastors of the Lord’s church. There are many, many ways that women may work, serve and teach in the church, but there is no way, that that a woman may be a Pastor of the Lord’s flock.

Quote: Women can give Biblical counsel, they can give Biblical instruction. They can speak to men about the truth. They can do that in an informal setting, in home setting and all kinds of social constructs. But when it come to the formal life of the church, the teaching responsibility by divine design is to be in the hands of men. – John McArthur

The Desire

Paul introduces his list of qualifications for the office of pastor, telling Timothy, vs. 1 “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”

The word desire is only used 3 times in the Bible, it literally means to stretch one’s self out, in order to touch or to grasp something.

Paul is telling Timothy that the Pastor is a man who has been given a calling of God that touches his heart and creates a desire, that desire makes him stretch himself, change himself, control himself that he might fulfill the high calling of the work of God.

That desire, by itself though, is not enough to be a pastor. To fully make sure of his calling and that the desire was placed in his heart by God, the man who desires to be a pastor must also meet the qualifications for the office. Meeting these qualifications prove the calling, they are the test of the desire. The qualifications are what the church must hold as the authentication of a man’s calling to the pastorate.

The great Baptist preacher of the mid 1800s, John Broadus was once asked by a young man how he could be sure he was being called to be a pastor. The wise old pastor smiled and said, “Sir, if you can do anything else, do it.” He was telling the young man that if he was truly called then his heart would not let him do anything else, the God given desire would be too strong to walk away. By the same test, if the desire is God given then a man will keep these qualifications.

I’m going to try and break down these qualifications into categories, though Paul certainly didn’t do that. I would probably be enough to just read the list, say a pray and go home, but as John Broadus would probably tell me today, “Sir if you can, then do it.” Fully knowing that no real preacher could possibly just read the passage, pray and go home. So we will place these in some categories to help us understand them, talk a little about them, then pray and go home. Let’s begin with personal qualifications, Paul lists nine by my count.

The Personal Qualification

1 Timothy 3:2-7 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Here are the Personal Qualifications

Vigilant: watchful, careful. Pastors are to be the watchmen of our own lives. They are responsible for keeping themselves qualified as God called men of God.

Sober: self-controlled, sensible, self-controlled and of a sound mind.  This is Paul’s favorite characteristic when he talks of pastors, deacons, men women and even young people in the church.

Good behavior: well behaved. Just act like a preacher is supposed to act. Certainly you should dress and behave like a preacher on Sundays but also remember that a pastor is never off the clock, never out of the loop and therefore must always be “of good behavior.”

Not given to wine: not a user of wine. Certainly, this means don’t be a drunkard and don’t be addicted to anything that controls our mood, mind or manners. I also think it means total abstinence, that pastors and church members should fully honor the Lord with their lives and testimony by never recreationaly drinking any alcohol, or for the fun of it, take any drug that would bring shame to the name of Christ or His church. In our church this is not optional, it is in our church covenant. Many think it is old fashioned, even unbiblical but I can promise you this, there are many more pastor and church members who become addicts and alcoholics because they decided it wasn’t a big deal, than there are pastors and church members who chose to never touch it and therefore never had to fight back from the defeat and shame of addiction.  There is only one sure path and that is total abstinence.

Not greedy of filthy lucre: not a lover of money. This qualification alone if faithfully applied would eliminate 99% of all TV evangelists and so called prophets. If a pastor says God wants you to give me money, then Paul and Jesus Christ say, “you are not a pastor, you’re a hireling.”

Paul says a pastor is not a striker. He should never be willing to physically hit someone in anger or retaliation. Put another way, the pastor should be angry at sin, but he should never punch out a sinner.

Example: RB. I just heard this past week of the passing of a man who I went to Bible college with. I was also at his ordination, though not in the presbytery, since I was not ordained. This was at that time a young man, who did not meet the qualifications of being a pastor. Anyone who know him, knew this was true, in spite of this he was ordained in the hope he would get there eventually, instead it nearly destroyed him and his family. This young man had a violent temper. Though he never came to blows in the often heated theology arguments in college, he came close, very close. After he was ordained he took a church in North Texas where I found out years later, that during a business meeting he got into a fist fight with a deacon of the church, who also happened to be his father-in-law. I don’t know which of those roles were more irksome to my friend, but it came to blows and after the blows to my friend leaving the pastorate and the faith at least for a time. No striker can be a pastor.

After Paul says a pastor cannot be striker and cannot be in if for the money, he contrasted those with “but Patient”  instead of trying to get you way with anger or not waiting for the Lord to take care of you needs and striving for filthy lucre, a pastor must be patient. The word means forbearing in this context, putting up with circumstance and people, but 3 times it is just translated as “gentle” The direct opposite of the violence and impatience is gentleness. A quality remembered much longer by a church than any sermon a pastor will ever preach.

Along the same lines of contrast, Paul says the pastor is, “Not covetous: He must not be unsatisfied with what God has provided, but trust in the provision and love of the One who called Him. God will provide, it is His promise to all his children and especially to His pastors.

Not a novice: inexperienced in the things of God. When placed in a position of honor and responsibility will through pride become useless.

I’ve been in the ministry for over 40 years now and have seen many pastors leave the ministry, some you could predict some you couldn’t but almost always the one factor that you could most surely predict would make a man fail as a pastor was putting him into the pulpit before he was mature enough, both spiritually and in years.

Several years ago I was in the presbytery for a young man, who I didn’t know that well, but his mentor / pastor had asked me to be in the ordination. During the service, the candidate could not answer even the most basic doctrinal questions. Once when pressed by the interrogator, who was also his mentor / pastor, about an answer he reached under his seat, pulled out a bunch of copied sheets from books that had been written by his mentor/ pastor and trying to leaf through them and failing to find and answer simply said, “Well that's what you say in one of your books.”  When the presbytery met, several of the pastors said the young man was not ready. The mentor / pastor said, “I know he needs more training, but I promise to work with him some more. I’m sure he’ll be a good pastor.” Over my worst doubts we voted to approve the candidate. He didn’t even last a year. By the time it was over he had alienated his church, left his wife and left the faith. Years later he took his own life. To this day, I regret, deeply regret that I allowed myself to be persuaded that this qualification could be ignored.

Those are personal qualification, this is the man himself but there are other qualification that are outside just himself. Look at the qualifications a pastor must have when it comes to the community and his reputation in that community.

Community Qualifications

1 Timothy 3:2-7 - A bishop, (a pastor, an elder) then must be blameless…7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

He must be Blameless.

These qualifications have to do with a man’s reputation and Paul actually begins his list not with the personal qualifications but with the community and reputation qualification. He also ends his list with an echo of the first. Paul says a pastor must be Blameless: be above accusations, above reproach. Not in the eyes of the pastor or even his church, but in the judgment of the community. The pastor must live his life in such a manner that he would be above reproach even to a lost and sinful world.  

Paul reinforces this in verse 7,  telling Timothy that pastors should “Have a good report from those outside the church. A pastor cannot reach those on the outside if perceive him as dishonest, untruthful or as my uncle used to say, “greasy”

Peter said it better in 1 Peter 3:15-17, 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation (lifestyle, reputation) in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

You and I may not think it’s important what the world thinks of us but God’s says, it is important, so important that if you aren’t above reproach in the eyes of your community then you can’t be a pastor of the Lord’s church.

 Recently a very well know, very will respected preacher and evangelist died. now he wasn’t a pastor but he still should have been under these qualifications as a leader of the Lord’s works. After he died it came out that he was the owner of a massage parlor and several of the women who worked there accused him of inappropriate actions of a sexual nature. After an investigation it turned out the accusations were true, my question upon first hearing about this story was, “Why would a man of God own a massage parlor?” Wouldn’t that set off alarms about his reputation? But in this day and age, no one said anything until it was too late.


Now let’s consider one of the most difficult qualifications, a godly family and children.

Family Qualifications

First Paul says the Pastor must be the Husband of one wife,

Literally this says, “a one woman man” (I know it sounds like a country western song)

Without a doubt, this qualification, rules out a man who had more than one wife, which could be the case in the pagan world. It would also rule out a man who had been divorced. Both because he had more than one wife but also because a divorced pastor would no longer be blameless or have a good report of those outside the church. But even more this phrase, “a one-woman man” means that a man must be devoted to only one woman. In all aspects and facets of his life there can only be one woman,  his wife, his best friend, his companion, his lover and his help meet. This qualification is probably the second greatest reason I have seen pastors leave the ministry. They did not devote themselves to their wives physically and had affairs or they did not commit themselves to their wives emotionally and their wives left them.

The pastor must be committed sexually, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to only one person, his wife.

Paul even goes further and says, the pastor must be “One that rules well his own house, Having his children under subjection (control) with all gravity (good behavior)”

Is that fair? Is it fair that the pastor’s children are held responsible in order that the father would remain qualified for the pastorate. No, its not fair. It’s not fair at all, but being called as a pastor is not about fairness. In reality very little about the way the Lord works with any of us is about fairness. Instead its about grace, mercy, forgiveness, sacrifice and service. If a man has been called, then part of that calling means he must love his wife and his children and guard and protect them though his devotion and love that they would never do anything to disqualify his ministry. When it happens and we all know that it does, most times those who know, can usually see that it was a failure of the husband, the father to love and care for his family as he was called and commanded to do, and without that love, the world rushed in and took them away.

This family qualification, even among Baptists, is probably ignored more even that the prohibition against wine. It’s not fair but it is Bible, you can’t be a pastor of the Lord’s church, lead and love them, if you are not first the head of your family and lead and love them.

As Paul so plainly points out, 1 Timothy 3:5 5  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

God first, family second, church third and if you don’t hold to this priority, chance are the world will see to it that you lose them all.


The last category for Pastoral qualifications, qualifications that mark us as fit for service are those involving the church and they are not what you think.

Church Qualifications

Paul says the Pastor should be Given to hospitality.

Wait, now shouldn’t there be something in here about being a great orator, an awesome pulpiteer or a dynamic personality that draws people into the church? No, nothing, nothing at all. No skills of oration. No powers of critical thinking or logical approach to problem solving. Not even skill when it comes to setting up a budget. Instead Paul says, Pastor are to be hospitable.

The word has the implication of just loving people. Being willing to open your home and sharing those things you have to others is a mark of love.  A pastor must be willing and able to open his heart and life to those around him just as Christ did for him.

Finally the other church qualification is being ….

Able to teach 

Apt to teach, means able, qualified, trained and willing to teach. In the first church qualification the pastor must share his home and life, here he must share his knowledge. As he should share what God given Him in his life, he must also pass on what God has given him in the word.

It not a matter of how good a pastor might be as he teaches and preaches, just that he is able to take God’s word and teach it to others. He is not required to have a mansion by the lake before he opens up his home and he is not required to have a doctorate in theology before he shares his heart.

Earlier when Paul was in prison, he wrote this to the church at Ephesus and it gives the overall purpose of God called pastors in the life of the church.

Ephesians 4:10-16 10  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Jesus Christ calls men to be the shepherds of his sheep that they may bring the church to the fulness of the stature of Christ and increase itself by the building up of itself in love. It is a great, overwhelming, intimidating calling and it requires a man’s life and the submission of that life to fulfill.


1 Timothy 6:13-20 13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14  That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15  Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16  Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. …20  O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust.

You know why it is so important that you as the church understand and apply the Biblical qualifications for pastors?

Because where the pastor leads, and how the pastor leads is where the church will follow. The pastor is held to a higher standard, but it is not a different standard. His consequences for failure may be more public, but failure in his life, his family or of his reputation is no more painful that those same failures in the life of any church member. Every church must hold their pastor accountable, because by doing so they also hold themselves accountable and fulfill their own calling to service in the name of Jesus Christ.

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