Prayer Guides | Vol. 8, Day 11-20

    July 30, 2020 | Prayer Guides by Various Authors

    Pastoral Qualifications 

    DAY 11 – Introduction

    1 Peter 5:2-4 “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”

    These are historic times at the Creek. God continues to guide us through the uncharted waters of transition and the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have recently begun our Pastor Search process. During the search process it is important for us all to keep in mind the biblical qualifications for a pastor. 1 Peter 5:2-4 is a great place for us to start as the passage shares a solid definition of how a pastor is to function. 

    First, a pastor is a shepherd of a flock. He cares for the people, humbly serving God and them. We see the shepherding illustration throughout Scripture, specifically applied to God the Father in Psalm 23 and Jesus, God the Son, in John 10. A pastor serves as an extension of this idea of personal care. Second, a pastor is an overseer of what God has entrusted to him. This verse continues to tell us how he should oversee: with willingness, enthusiasm, honesty, and humility. Third, a pastor must have integrity of character, being an example to others. He is to be authentic in word and deed, truly walking in the Spirit.

    Over the next 9 days we will delve into the pastoral qualifications as listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Through this passage we will see the required characteristics of the man described in 1 Peter 5:2-4. Identifying this man for our church is a vital part as we continue to follow God and His mission.

    Questions to Consider: 

    How is a pastor like a shepherd? How are we like sheep? 

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our Pastor Search Team to have wisdom, discernment, and patience.
    • Pray for God’s called shepherd to be identified in His timing.
    • Pray for all of our pastors and ministry leaders.

    Acts 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” 

    DAY 12 – A Desire to Serve

    1 Timothy 3:1 “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.”

    In the New Testament, the word translated in the above verse as “bishop” also can mean “overseer,” “elder,” or “pastor” and is used interchangeably. Therefore, if a man desires to serve as a pastor, he desires a good work. The desire of his heart is an indispensable part of serving the Lord and people as a pastor.

    We often refer to this desire of the heart as a “calling.” This is not simply someone wanting to be a pastor, or thinking it would be a good job to have. This desire is given by God through the Holy Spirit. It is accompanied by a willingness to serve, along with tremendous humility. There is an eagerness to serve, tempered by peace and patience. There is thirst to lead others on God’s mission, accompanied by overwhelming compassion for the lost and hurting.

    It is indeed a good work, but one that is impossible for any man to accomplish under his own giftedness, charisma, knowledge, or experience. The work of shepherding is only possible under the power and leading of the Holy Spirit. The desire or calling to this office must come from God.

    Questions to Consider: 

    How can a man’s “calling” as a pastor be evident to us? Why do you think Paul says that this is a “faithful saying”? 

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our Pastor Search Team to have wisdom in determining desire or calling.
    • Pray for God’s call to be crystal clear in the heart of our next pastor.
    • Pray for all of our pastors to be refreshed and strengthened in their calling to serve.

    Ephesians 4:11-12 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” 

    DAY 13 – Blameless

    1 Timothy 3:2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach.” 

    What does “blameless” mean in this verse? The meaning here is crucial as the remaining pastoral qualifications continue in great detail to further define this concept. Literally, it means “not able to be held” in a criminal sense. This does not mean sinless, of course, but that there is no valid accusation of offense that can be made against him. The imperative “must be” presses on the necessity of this quality in a pastor’s life.

    As previously noted in 1 Peter 5:3 on Day 11, a pastor needs to be an example to others. He is not expected to be perfect, but should be above reproach. Of course, someone could still put forth an accusation, but the idea here is that it would soon be found baseless. This applies not only to how a pastor leads and serves the church, but also to how he leads his family. In fact, it applies to every aspect of his life.

    God sets an extremely high bar for those who lead His people. Even though God knows all pastors are sinners, He calls them to live in a manner that not only glorifies Him, but also encourages others to do the same.

    Questions to Consider: 

    What do you think it means for a person to be blameless? Why is this a necessary qualification for a pastor?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our Pastor Search Team to have discernment in determining blamelessness.
    • Pray for God to convict the heart of all who desire to be our pastor, revealing any valid accusations or sinful patterns in order for them to repent.
    • Pray for all of our pastors to live blameless lives.

    Titus 1:7a “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God” 

    DAY 14 – Of Good Behavior

    1 Timothy 3:2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach” 

    Now we begin to elaborate on blamelessness by examining the character of the man who would be a pastor. The Greek word translated as “good behavior” in the above verse means “orderly.” Order is a characteristic of God, and a man living a chaotic life would struggle mightily in trying to lead a church or ministry. He would be distracted, impatient, unorganized, and impetuous. His chaotic character would soon create chaos for everyone else. 

    “Husband of one wife” here conveys the idea of a “one-woman man.” There should be no adultery or infidelity in his current life. “Temperate” means the ability to think clearly and to react without high emotions. “Sober-minded” speaks to a disciplined character, holding the things of God in highest priority. “Hospitable” comes from a Greek compound word that means “love of strangers.” A pastor must have compassion for others and a heart for the lost. We will examine “able to teach” in detail on Day 15.

    These phrases are all illustrations of good behavior, or living an orderly life. We must remember that this order comes from God. A pastor’s habits, schedules, and tasks should reflect this Godly order. Psalm 37:23 tells us, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.” 

    Questions to Consider: 

    What do you think a life ordered by God looks like? Why are these things necessary qualifications for a pastor?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our Pastor Search Team to have discernment in determining “good behavior.”
    • Pray for God to convict the hearts of all who desire to be our pastor in these things, causing any who live chaotic lives to withdraw from the search process.
    • Pray for all of our pastors to be encouraged and strengthened to continue to live orderly lives for the Lord.

    1 Corinthians 14:40 “Let all things be done decently and in order.” 

    DAY 15 – Able to Teach

    1 Timothy 3:2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach”

    If you think back to your days in school, you’ll almost certainly remember at least one teacher who not only connected with you, but connected you with the subject they taught. They were dedicated to what they did as a teacher. They prepared well and really cared about the students. They were able to teach. But what does that mean as a pastoral qualification? 

    This is different. Someone can be a good teacher of theology or math, while not being able to teach God’s Word effectively. This is because teaching Scripture requires studying Scripture, and both require the Holy Spirit for understanding. It is not enough to simply build up knowledge of God and the Bible. Teaching and preaching Scripture is led by the Spirit, not by our minds.

    Teaching and preaching are the primary tasks of a pastor. The ability to communicate God’s truths with clarity, conviction, and compassion is given by the Holy Spirit. Jesus was often called “Rabbi,” meaning teacher, by His disciples. A pastor’s teaching should point to Jesus, the ultimate teacher.

    Questions to Consider: 

    How can we know if someone is able to teach? Why is being able to teach a necessary qualification for a pastor?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our Pastor Search Team to have discernment in determining the ability of a pastoral candidate to teach.
    • Pray for God to build up the teaching ability of our next pastor.
    • Pray for all of our pastors to be equipped and energized by the Spirit as they teach.

    1 Timothy 4:6 “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.” 

    DAY 16 – Gentleness

    1 Timothy 3:3 “not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous” 

    In our May Prayer Guide, we defined gentleness in “The Fruit of the Spirit” as submission, or the idea of strength under control. Here we see gentleness as a pastoral qualification. This ties into the idea of living an orderly life from Day 14.

    When we think of strength under control, it is under God’s control. A pastor is called to walk in the Spirit with humility.

    We also see five “not” phrases here. These five phrases are not random, but are often the ones that present the strongest temptation and the toughest struggles. “Not given to wine” is not only a warning against drunkenness, but also a reminder to be unimpaired in mind and judgment. It also serves as a caution against any addictive behavior patterns. “Not violent” and “not quarrelsome” implores a pastor to react with patience and to remain calm at all times, seeking unity in the Spirit. “Not greedy for money” and “not covetous” warn against personal gain and acclaim through ministry. These can take hold in a prideful heart when God is not the focus.

    A pastor must be fully in submission to God in order to be gentle. A shepherd submitted will care for the sheep well, humbly serving the flock. An overseer submitted will lead well, valuing the input of those he leads. A pastor submitted will minister well, loving God and loving people.

    Questions to Consider: 

    Am I fully in submission to God? Why is gentleness a necessary qualification for a pastor?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our Pastor Search Team to have wisdom in determining gentleness.
    • Pray for our next pastor to be fully submitted to God, humbly serving with gentleness.
    • Pray for all of our pastors to submit all things to God and to serve with gentleness.

    Philippians 4:5 “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” 

    DAY 17 – Leading His Family

    1 Timothy 3:4 “one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence” 

    The above verse is one of the more controversial qualifications, but it really doesn’t need to be so. The first part—“one who rules his own house well”—is qualified by the rest of this verse and is expanded upon in the next verse (we will cover that tomorrow). The idea of ruling here refers to this man fulfilling his role as the spiritual head of the family, which means he is in submission to Christ (building on what we read yesterday). If married, he exhibits sacrificial love for his wife and treats her with honor. His marriage is a reflection of his relationship with Christ and how he would lead.

    And now the sticky part: “having his children in submission with all reverence.” We do not take this to mean his children must have faith in Jesus in order for him to be a pastor. This would rule out any man with very young children, which we do not believe is God’s intention. While a father is not responsible for his children’s faith in Christ, he is accountable for how he leads his children and how he shares and models his faith to them. His children should be respectful of him and their mother, as well as toward other children and adults (as is age appropriate). There is much to learn about a man by studying his children.

    God gave us the institution of family as our primary vehicle of discipleship, fellowship, and community. A pastor’s marriage should be a picture of Christ and the Church. A pastor’s relationship with his children should be a picture of Christ’s adoption of us by grace and His discipline in love.

    Question to Consider: 

    Why is “ruling your own house well” a necessary qualification for a pastor?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our Pastor Search Team to have wisdom and patience in examining candidates on how they lead their families.
    • Pray for our next pastor to love his wife as Christ loved the Church and to lead his children well for Christ.
    • Pray for the marriages and parenting of all of our pastors to glorify God.

    Colossians 3:18-20 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” 

    DAY 18 – Leading the Church Family

    1 Timothy 3:5 “for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?” 

    The concept behind the above verse seems simple enough: if a man does not lead his own family, how can he be expected to lead the church family? It is simple indeed, but not necessarily easy when we consider all that goes into leading a family in a godly way. We looked at marriage and parenting yesterday and will now extend those ideas in other ways.

    The most important thing to consider here is how he leads his family in discipleship. After all, if a man is not leading his family in the ways of God, it would be foolish to think he would or could lead others who are not his family. Another area to look at here is stewardship. How does this man manage the family resources? How much debt does he carry? This will give insight on how he may manage the resources of the church. Yet another aspect is how he and his family spend their free time. Is their schedule out of balance? Are they focused more on worldly things? This may show how he will direct others to spend their time. 

    The analogy of a church congregation being a family is fundamental to our function. Our church truly is a family, united by the love and sacrifice of Christ. A pastor must first and foremost lead his own family well before he can lead the church family. 

    Questions to Consider: 

    What other ways could the way a man leads his own family impact his ability to take care of the church family? How can I grow closer to others in our church family?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our Pastor Search Team to have discernment when considering how candidates lead their families and, therefore, how they may lead the church.
    • Pray for our next pastor to lead his family well, exercising biblical discipleship, stewardship, and time management.
    • Pray for all of our pastors to glorify God in how they lead their families and serve our church family.

    Joshua 24:15b “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 

    DAY 19 – Not a Novice

    1 Timothy 3:6 “not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.” 

    The Greek word neophutos, translated as “novice” in the verse above, means “newly planted.” Think of a newly planted seed for a fruit tree. We wouldn’t expect to see fruit growing for quite some time. This is the idea here in reference to the qualifications for a pastor.

    This means in part that a pastor should not be a recent convert to Christianity. Although no time table is given here, it can take several years for spiritual fruit to grow. It further means that a pastor needs to be spiritually mature. This maturity may be best defined by the fruit of the Spirit as written in Galatians 5:22-25. Observing this spiritual fruit usually takes some time. 1 Timothy 3:6 also warns us of the danger a novice pastor will bring. Pride often leads to a fall, and this type of fall does great damage not only to the novice pastor but also to those he has wrongly led. The strong wording of “the same condemnation as the devil” brings to mind the cautionary passage of Ezekiel 28:11-19.

    A pastor must be spiritually mature, walking with the Lord in all of the 8 Discipleship Goal areas. Fruit takes a season, or even many seasons, to grow. Spiritual fruit is a sure sign of spiritual growth.

    Questions to Consider: 

    Why is not being a novice a pastoral qualification? How can I grow in my own spiritual maturity?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our Pastor Search Team to have wisdom and knowledge in determining spiritual maturity.
    • Pray for our next pastor to be spiritually mature, bearing Kingdom fruit.
    • Pray for all of our pastors to continue their spiritual growth.

    John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

    DAY 20 – A Good Testimony

    1 Timothy 3:6 “Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” 

    We have seen in our July Prayer Guide the importance of our testimony in sharing the Gospel. In the above verse, we see testimony applied in a different way as a pastoral qualification. The term translated “good testimony” can also mean “good reputation” or “beautiful witness.” This is specifically to those outside of the church family, or Christianity in general. If we were to ask a candidate’s neighbors about him, what would they say? Do they respect him, even if they don’t agree with him? Do they know where he stands?

    Pastors, and all Christians for that matter, have to interact with a fallen world full of hardship and hardened hearts toward God. Does this man work like a jackhammer on those who disagree? Do his neighbors even know that he is a Christian? A pastor must navigate our world with love, wisdom, discernment, gentleness and compassion that only comes through the Holy Spirit. Again, we see the warning of “the snare of the devil.” We also see falling into reproach, which means he isn’t blameless. That would take us back to 1 Timothy 3:2 and likely back to the drawing board for the Search Team.

    As we can see, all of these qualifications fit together to biblically define what a pastor is and what he does. Much like the fruit of the Spirit, this is an “all or nothing” proposition. We can all be so very thankful that God spells these qualifications out for us in His Word for His glory!

    Questions to Consider: 

    Why is it important for a pastor to have a good testimony outside of the church? How can I improve my own testimony among my neighbors?

    Prayer Prompts: 

    • Pray for our Pastor Search Team to have wisdom, knowledge, and insight in determining the candidate’s testimony outside the church.
    • Pray for our next pastor to have a beautiful witness among those outside the church.
    • Pray for all of our pastors to live in a manner that reflects God to those outside our body.

    Titus 2:15 “Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”