Religious Affections – A Look at the Lists: Pastoral Passages and the Character of a Christian Leader

Several “C’s” help me organize my pastoral theology. A pastor must have the call, that is, a Spirit-given desire to be in ministry (cf. 1 Tim 3:1). He must also have a certain competency, that is, a Spirit-given gift-set that includes oversight and teaching (cf. 1 Tim 3:1–2). There must also be a confirmation, that is, the Spirit-led approval of the church as a whole to set aside a man to be an elder in his church (cf. 1 Tim 4:14; 5:22). Certain circumstances must be true of him as well, such as not being a recent convert (1 Tim 3:6) or one whose reputation among unbelievers is particularly disparaging (1 Tim 3:7).

To add another “C,” an obvious emphasis in Scripture is that pastors or leaders in general be men of character. Whatever one may mean by the term Christian leader, the leaders in the NT were apostles, pastors, and the like, and if one is a “leader” in the church in some capacity, passages that describe their required character should be our guide for evaluating leaders today. Today’s post begins a topical walk through 1 Timothy 3:1–7, Titus 1:5–9, and 1 Peter 5:1–4. Other passages will be referenced in the future for good measure (e.g., 1 Tim 4:12; 2 Tim 2:22).

1 Timothy 3:1–7 yields a dozen and one-half or so requirements for the overseer, depending on how one breaks apart certain descriptions. Apart from character, as referenced above, one of these requirements involves the overseer’s call (desire; 1 Tim 3:1), two others involve his competency (teaching and oversight of his home and the church; 1 Tim 3:2, 4–5), and two more involve his circumstances (not a new believer and well thought of by outsiders; 1 Tim 3:6–7). The majority of the remaining descriptions involve his character, most of which are found in 1 Tim 3:2–3.

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