Are You Called to the Ministry?
"This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." - I Tim. 3:1.
God's Standards for the Pastoral Ministry
Entering any calling in life should be a serious matter for prayerful consideration, searching of God’s Word, and keen observation of providential leadings. This is particularly true of the calling to the ministry, as a minister is called to be God’s ambassador to man. The following is a brief outline. God’s qualifications for the call to the office of Pastor, as found in the 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
- Desire (1 Tim. 3:1) – The man of God desires above all things to be a minister. He longs after it, it is an inward impulse of the soul to preach and minister.
- Blameless (1 Tim. 3:2, 1 Tim. 3:10, Titus 1:6-7) – The man of God is converted, a true believer in Christ, but he is also without reproach in the church.
- Husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2) – The man of God is faithful to his wife. It is not only a command against polygamy, but also against being flirtatious; he is dedicated wholly to his wife.
- Vigilant (1 Tim. 3:11, Titus 2:2) – The man of God has self-control. In 1 Timothy 3:11 and Titus 2:2 this word is rendered “sober.” It signifies being free from intoxicants and is used in association with watchfulness. It infers self-control and self-denial.
- Sober (1 Tim. 3:2) – The man of God is of a sound mind, self-controlled, sober-minded, temperate, discreet, prudent, and sensible.
- Of good behavior (1 Tim. 3:2) – The man of God is orderly, decent, modest — also inwardly; honorable, virtuous, respectable.
- Given to hospitality (1 Tim. 3:2) – The man of God is hospitable—literally, a lover of caring for strangers.
- Apt to teach (1 Tim. 3:2) – The man of God is skillful in teaching. He can teach Christianity to others who, in turn, will teach still others.
- Patient (1 Tim. 3:3) – The man of God is gentle, equitable, fair, moderate, forbearing, and does not insist on the letter of the law.
- A Good Husband and Father (1 Tim. 3:4; Titus 1:6) – The man of God is one that rules his own house well, having his children in subjection, with all gravity, and having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly behavior.
- A Good Witness (1 Tim. 3:7) – The man of God has not only good witness but by evidence of his life outside the church—his life gives proof to the good reputation he has in the world—it is not just surface or show.
- Faithful (2 Tim. 2:2) – The man of God is worthy to be believed; reliable; a believer of the gospel.
- A lover of good men (Titus 1:8) – The man of God is a promoter of virtue and loves that which is good.
- Just (Titus 1:8) – The man of God is fair and equitable in his judgement.
- Holy (Titus 1:8) – The man of God is consecrated to God and pure from defilement, stemming from a right relationship with God.
- Temperate (Titus 1:8) – The man of God has self-control; chaste; not loose in morals.
- Conviction (Titus 1:9) – The man of God holds fast the faithful Word that he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the unruly, console the brokenhearted, and oppose false teachers.
- He is not given to drunkedness or addiction (1 Tim. 3:3).
- He is not violent (1 Tim. 3:3).
- He is not greedy for power (1 Tim. 3:3).
- He is not argumentative (1 Tim. 3:3).
- He is not a lover of money (1 Tim. 3:3).
- He is not a new convert (1 Tim. 3:6).
- He is not self-willed (Titus 1:7).
- He is not easily angered (Titus 1:7)
These twenty-five qualifications form a formidable and humbling list. Two cautionary notes are in order here: First, although this list represents a summary list which every minister must strive to live up to by the grace of God, Paul does not intend to state that all ministers must have all these qualities perfectly or be equally strong in each of them. Rather, Paul directs Timothy that these are the qualities — both positive and negative — he is to look for when he seeks to establish the ministry in different localities.
Secondly, Paul also does not state that all these qualities are of equal weight. Paul’s point is not that we ought to expect to find perfect men; every minister will have a number of faults and weaknesses, which will be hindrances in his ministry to a smaller or greater degree. Nevertheless, here is a clear scriptural guide of qualities that the called minister must have in some measure and must be pursuing.