The idea of qualification for the pastorship is interesting. I’ve been told multiple things relating to it in struggling with my own insufficiencies as a leader. I’ve been reminded that I’m “qualified by the call,” not by my skills. I’ve been told “God does not call the equipped, he equips the called.” But this is less about equipment as it is about character. Patrick compares an unqualified pastor to an unqualified surgeon or pilot. Their jobs relate directly to the safety of the person they’re operating on or the passengers of the plane they’re flying (respectively.) When you take stock and think about the fact that a pastor is responsible for the spiritual health of his congregation, it becomes clear how important it is to have certain characteristics and qualifications.
Patrick lays out this chapter with 1 Timothy 3:1-7, which lays out the qualifications Paul wrote out for anyone who wants to be an elder (overseer, one who looks after spiritual health, aka a pastor.) Since this is taken directly from the Bible, there’s not a ton for me to discuss, so I’m choosing to use this chapter as an evaluative tool to look at what I think I could improve upon in terms of qualification for being a pastor, a leader of people.
1. Above Reproach. Admittedly, I’m not sure of my reputation among all people. But since, as William Mounce wrote, being above reproach is the foundation for everything else, I can find the answer to this one in everything else.
2. The Husband of One Wife. A “one-woman man.” Well, I’m not married. But I’m seeing a girl and for the first time, I’m not in any interested in anyone else, and I don’t feel trapped by the idea that I can only be with her, so I’d say that’s going relatively well.
3. Sober-Minded. This is referring to not being overly rash in decision making, being able to control desires and emotions by submission to the Holy Spirit. I see progress in this, and I’m slowly but surely learning to make decisions and do what’s necessary in spite of my emotions and what I “feel like” doing. I do have a tendency to get really nervous when things don’t go as I’d planned, and I can see that I need to submit my plans to the Holy Spirit so that when they go awry, I can get His help.
4. Self-controlled. Same idea here – the ability to focus by the power of the Holy Spirit on what needs to be done, using good judgment and having common sense. I think I have room to improve on this, particularly financially and with my diet (so not necessarily relating to pastorship, but still important.)
5. Respectable. This is referring to having a life that is well in order, financially, temporally (how your time is managed,) etc. a messy house is a bad sign. An unkept lawn is a bad sign. Messy room. Even aesthetics are important here – chaos should not characterize your life, Patrick writes. I concur with that, and I think that my life isn’t dominated by chaos, though I have space to present more order in it.
6. Hospitable. Loves strangers, doesn’t resign to cliques. This passage stood out to me because God’s been tugging at me about this for a long time now. I’m very comfortable with the people I’m comfortable with, and I’m not skilled in developing new friendships and asking direct questions to get to know people. I’m also shy in my approach to people outside the church, but the anecdote he shares in this is a perfect way to illustrate what can happen when we stop worrying that unbelievers have some sort of contagion and we have to keep away from that. On the contrary, it seems like faith is what’s contagious! A guy got a job at a gay-friendly bar (I don’t think it says a “gay bar” necessarily) and in being willing to commune with unbelievers and/or people who didn’t share his political affiliation, sexuality, or worldview, was able to go through doors to talk about Jesus and invite people to church. Lives were changed because of his intangible hospitality and obedience to share about Jesus. In Foursquare’s competency assessment, sharing faith is on the list. I’ve been poor in that arena (I’ve never led anyone to Jesus) but I’m starting to see more and more that it’s about obedience, not thinking I’m the most important person in my life and being willing to take a risk to get to know someone.
7. Able to teach. Getting better at that the more that God disciplines me in reading and studying the Word, as well as having opportunities to teach small groups. Improving.
8. Not a drunkard. In other words, “doesn’t have an unhealthy release valve.” How do you blow off steam? How do I blow off steam? Do I resort to alcohol to solve my problems? For me, the answer is no. I’ve cultivated the habits of taking a walk or a run, praying in my car, or journaling to deal with the stresses of life. A beer is nice on a relaxing night, but it’s not the source of my relaxation. Check.
9. Not violent. Do you solve your problems through violence or abuse of power? No. I think I’m okay there…
10. Gentle. Doesn’t have to have his own way all the time. I’m not stubborn (not always anyway.) I think that I have areas in which I can become more gentle, but also areas in which I can stop being as passive as I currently am.
11. Not quarrelsome. Are you argumentative? Not really. I don’t like creating conflict for conflict’s sake.
12. Not a lover of money. What’s money? I don’t have any of that.
13. Managing his own household well. I don’t have a family, so I can’t really say on this one.
14. Not a recent convert. Been saved since 2005.
15. Well thought of by outsiders. Again, I’m genuinely curious about this one in terms of how people see me. But I’m also baffled sometimes by the concept – see, we live in a day and age in which some topics garner us disrespect. I’m mostly thinking of the issue of gay marriage. The conservative Christian stance on it is that it’s sinful, and it seems as though the constant rebuttal is that that’s shallow, bigoted, and judgmental. The response to a worldview comes back on the character of the person who holds that view. And there are people who take it to ridiculous lengths, when perhaps all we need to do is stand by what the Bible says about it. All that is to say that it seems like some people, by taking stances on things, will be hated and disrespected. And Jesus said that would happen. AND Jesus Himself was hated! But Jesus was hated by the people whose pride and religion He came against. Maybe that’s what I’m to be hated for? It’s hard for me to recognize the times it’s good to be hated and the times it’s good to be respected. Perhaps respect is something to be had in spite of a worldview, or relating to how you hold that worldview. If my worldview makes me hateful toward someone, then I’m not acting respectable. But if my worldview causes me to lovingly disagree, then maybe I am afforded room to be respected. [this whole section was a mere hashing out of my thoughts, apologizes to the reader.]
This was a good chapter, and serves for all readers as a good tool by which you can measure where you are as a pastor, whether already over a church or on your way to plant or assume one.