Pastoral Qualifications – Character (positive)

See the introduction to this series.  See the overview of this series.

In this post we’ll consider all of the positive character qualifications for a pastor.  Some are found 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and others are listed in Titus 1:5-9.  There are 10 positive character traits, so this post will be a little long.

ABOVE REPROACH.  The pastor is to be a person who cannot be criticized or accused of doing wrong.  That is not to say that there is not a person who just wants to criticize the pastor because those people will exist.  This is saying that the pastor’s lifestyle is such that he in no way invites criticism by the things he does and says.

SOBER-MINDED.  The question that this qualification addresses is not alcohol (Paul addresses that issue by saying that the pastor is not to be a drunkard).  To be sober-minded means that the pastor is to be a man who acknowledges the truth presented in God’s Word and faithfully discharges his resulting ministry.

  • 2 Timothy 4:5, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  Fulfilling ministry is a result of being sober-minded.
  • 1 Peter 1:13, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
  • 1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”  Paul says that correct thinking is critical for your prayer life.

SELF-CONTROLLED.  You let your mind guide your body in that you are sensible and moderate in your behavior.  You are in control of you.

  • Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”  Self-control is a characterization of the way you live the Christian life.
  • It is the same Greek word-family that is used in Mark 5:15 when it says the demon possessed man that Jesus healed was in his right mind, “And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind…”

RESPECTABLE.  The pastor is to be a man who is worthy of being given respect.  That is, he lives in such a way that people respect who he is.

HOSPITABLE.  The pastor is to be a man who shows kindness towards people.  The Bible also tells us that hospitality is focused on strangers as well as on our well-known friends and fellow believers.  Jesus teaches us that God is hospitable (Luke 12:37; 13:29; 14:16-23).

  • 1 Peter 4:9, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
  • In the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46 the single difference between the sheep and the goats is that the sheep are hospitable while the goats are not.

GENTLE.  In the text, “gentle” is set up as the alternative to “violent” (1 Tim. 3:3).  The pastor is to be a man who is yielding and does not speak evil and is not quarrelsome.  Gentleness is a quality of Jesus that complements his heavenly majesty.  He was gentle as he gave himself for us (Isaiah 53:7; Philippians 2:5-8).

A LOVER OF GOOD.  Titus 1:8 contains this only use of this word in the New Testament.  The question we can ask ourselves here is, “What do I rejoice in?”

  • 1 Corinthians 13:6, “[love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”  Do we long for good?  Do we desire truth?  Or do we secretly rejoices when a bad thing happens to someone we don’t like?

UPRIGHT.  We focus much on the gospel, and rightly so.  But we must have both the law and the gospel.  The pastor is to be a person who truly keeps the law.  He is to be righteous and just in his dealings.

  • James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  Pastors are to be men of prayer, and their prayers need to get something done.  Therefore, a pastor need to be a righteous (or upright) person.

HOLY.  Holiness is God’s primary characteristic. Revelation 4:8 tells us that in heaven there is an unending declaration of God’s holiness.  The pastor is to be a man who lives a holy life.

DISCIPLINED.  The Greek word enkrates used here means “having power or dominion over the self”.  This would be similar to the idea presented above that the pastor is to be a man who is self-controlled.

  • 1 Corinthians 9:25, “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”  We, too, are running a race in our Christian lives and ministries.  There is a particular, disciplined lifestyle that we must maintain if we are to live and serve well.

As we finish this, I want to remind you that these should be a goal for all Christians.  The church uses this list as a means for identifying those who will serve as pastors.  My guess is that you’ve got something on this list you can work on…get started.

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8 Responses to Pastoral Qualifications – Character (positive)

  1. Pingback: Pastoral Qualifications (Intro) | I Will Follow

  2. Hector Ortega says:

    Si, estoy trabajando principalmente para ser más como Cristo.
    Gracias por la buena lectura.

  3. Ben Simpson says:

    Mark, I really like the taxonomy you’ve put together here with the qualifications. Very helpful! I’ve been watching your blogs introducing the series and am glad you’ve taken on the topic.

    One of the things that I’ve thought about in the past is that the characteristic of “being above reproach” is not just one of many characteristics, but the overarching characteristic that sheds light on the other ones. In other words, “being above reproach” is the summation of all these characteristics. I believe it’s also the hermeneutical key to some of the more debated qualifications you’ll get into later, such as “husband of one wife.” I’ll throw out my ideas on this when the time is right.

    What do you think?

    • Mark Bass says:

      I think you’re right about being above reproach as a summary statement of all the qualifications. If a man is all the other things then he will definitely be above reproach. It is also the only qualification that Paul repeats 3 times. Please explain how it could be the hermeneutical key for the section.

      • Ben Simpson says:

        Most of these qualifications are straightforward, but others are not so. When we interpret these not-so-straightforward qualifications, particularly “husband of one wife,” we can disqualify most of the interpretations by asking “what is reproachable about X?”. Most of the interpretations exclude men from the office for things that are not reproachable, such as singleness, marriage, or a remarried widower. I’ll say more now if you’d like me to, or I’ll just wait until you get to “husband of one wife.”

      • Ben Simpson says:

        I believe “being above reproach” is also the key to rightly understanding the qualifications that include children.

  4. Pingback: Pastoral Qualifications – Character (negative) | I Will Follow

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