Why Qualifications for Church Leaders Matter

The series over at Christianity Today, “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill” has been enlightening. Exposure of pastoral abuse has become all too common in our day. One of the most needful practices at the moment is for the church to give attention to the qualifications for pastoral ministry. While no pastor or elder will ever achieve perfection in this life, still, the standard is a high one for Christian ministry and the following characteristics should be true of any man aspiring to shepherd the flock of Christ.

With that in mind, in what follows is a brief annotated description of the qualifications for office bearers. It’s important that Clery and layman alike appreciate what God inspired as the qualifications for leadership in the church of Jesus Christ. k

Elders must also be (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9)

1. Self-controlled / disciplined (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:8)
a. Regardless of his impulses or emotions, he controls their expression and behavior.
b. “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov. 16:33).

2. Hospitable (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8)
a. He is willing to love strangers, entertain them and open up his life for them; showing genuine love to serve and provide for others.
b. In the ancient world nearly everyone traveled on foot. Social welfare was almost completely non-existent, poverty and hunger were widespread, and widows and orphans were neglected. The first witness of the church was often that of believers opening their homes and sharing their food and belongings with strangers.

3. Able to teach (1 Tim. 3:2)
a. He is able to instruct and apply God’s Word to the needs of the people;13 skillful in teaching.14
b. He must be able to bring the Word of God to bear on the various issues of life: assurance, joys and sorrows, suffering in trial, error, sin, death and its aftermath.
c. He is growing in the knowledge and wise application of “All Scripture [that] is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16).

4. Not violent but gentle (1 Tim 3:3 ; Titus 1:7)
a. Neither contentious nor physically a ‘striker.’
b. Instead gracious and forbearing; showing patient restraint to others,
especially those with whom he disagrees.

5. Not quarrelsome (1 Tim. 3:3)
a. Not given to, or obsessed with, disputes and arguments over words (1 Tim 6:3-6)
b. Instead, practicing and pursuing peace (1 Peter 3:11)

6. Well thought of by outsiders (1 Tim. 3:7)
a. He lives in the world, even though he is no longer of it; aware that this is part of his work as an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5).
b. His good reputation extends beyond the body of Christ; even to those who are not believers.

7. Not open to charge of debauchery (Titus 1:6)
a. His lifestyle is not one of dissipation, marked by self-indulgence and licentiousness.
b. Neither is it wildly extravagant; marked by wasteful expenditures.

8. Not open to charge of insubordination (Titus 1:6)
a. His lifestyle is not marked by a radical independence that refuses to submit to God-ordained authorities.
b. Neither is it rebellious; marked by willful disobedience.

9. Not arrogant (Titus 1:7)
a. He is humbled before the Lord; eager to serve rather than be served (Mark 10:45).
b. “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor” (Prov. 29:23).

10. Not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7)
a. He is not given to ungodly anger, full of bitterness and wrath, and does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20).
b. “Good sense [wisdom] makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11)

12. Lover of good (Titus 1:8)
a. He is not conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewal of his mind, testing [establishing] what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).
b. He abhors what is evil and holds on to what is good (Rom 12:9)

13.Holy (Titus 1:8)
a. He is devoted to the work of God in all areas of his life.
b. He is seeking to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).