Monday, March 14, 2011

Expectations, Fears, and Hopes: Part 5

I just recently realized I never finished this series of posts! This is part five in a series of post that I've been thinking about lately in respect to the expectations of pastors. You can read the first four here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
In the previous post I made the passing statement about the importance of Elders being qualified. One of the primary places you see this list is in First Timothy 3:1-7:
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
Without going through every item on this list, it's possible to see that the expectations for this particular office are great. God doesn't want just anyone in this office. In fact, one of the major issues I've seen in churches is that anytime someone says they're 'called' to the ministry they are sometimes never questioned or challenged. If I'm honest, my own ordination into the ministry wasn't nearly what I think it should have been. In fact, I have often said I'm not sure how I was 'ordained' when I was. Notice how Paul deals with this issue. In verse one he talks about someone aspiring to the office of overseer (same office as elder/pastor). He doesn't next say to throw them in and hope for the best. Rather, Paul states that the aspirations must be matched by godly living. In other words, these characteristics must be seen in the lives of those who 'aspire to the office of overseer.' Those who wish to lead the church of the Lord Jesus Christ will be held to a high standard. They ought to live lives that others can imitate (as Paul said 1 Corinthians 11:1). If you are going to have a healthy church, submitting to the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in the Word of God, then you must have qualified elders leading the flock!

Another passage where you can see some of the characteristics of those qualified to lead the church is Titus 1:5-9:
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick- tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self- controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Church will typically take on the strengths (and weaknesses) of the leadership. Practically speaking this points to it being necessary to have a plurality of elders. When you have a plurality, you also have strengths and weaknesses dispersed. You have the opportunity to have a balanced leadership. This will hopefully lead to a balanced (healthy) church. But these men must be qualified. They must seek to follow Christ so closely that their people can follow them to be more like Christ. 

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