The Text for Our Understanding:
I’m including in part a portion of the text, the “B” part of the text if you will, for the purpose of seeing the text and interacting with it as well as some thoughts surrounding it:
…good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous.”
–1 Timothy 3:2-3
Integrity: A Pastoral Trait
Although some of the information may seem repetitive, the emphasis needs to be restated. Namely, that I have tried to convey one message and it is this: The Pastor, and I mean your lead pastor, the assistant pastor, all staff pastors, from the associate to the youth pastor, should be persons of integrity. I have attempted to interact with the Scripture, mainly because the Scripture deals with the pastor’s character, not the pastor’s personality.
Not what he drives, what he wears, or how well he sings. These concepts would have been foreign to Paul and other New Testament authors, but they are crucial to some in the church today. We need more in pastoral leadership (I’m not an egalitarian but if you are just think she/her instead of he/him) who realize God is concerned with how we all behave ourselves. The old folk used to say there was a believing side and a behaving side to the Gospel. And I believe some have lost sight of that concept in favor of a “What’s hot” mentality.
And we are all about being “hip”—whatever is in fashion to do is the pastor and church’s focus. If there’s a movie and a curriculum to go along with that movie, then the pastor and church are about it. If there’s a best seller (Prayer Of Jabez, Purpose Driven Life, these are only examples not an analysis of either book, nor a critique) pastors will force-feed their congregations, instead of opening the word, or crying out to God, for their particular church’s needs.
Things that are particular to their local congregations’ needs, hurts, joys, pains, and expressions, the pastor should be on his face (okay in prayer) asking God for actual direction, as opposed to what’s going on with a best seller. Integrity is about honesty and character. Yes, the text deals with “not given to wine,” which some interpret as total abstinence, and others interpret as not given in the sense of completely given over to, or, in other words, drunkenness. And the text also tells us not be given over to violence. I have heard men in pastoral ministry with crude speech, men threaten others with violence, guys hitting their wives—pastors have a passion for their so-called ministry without compassion for people. Pastors shouldn’t be “Jim Rome or Rush Limbaugh” rude. Neither should they be like some of the wrestlers you would see on television, just for lack of a better term, talking smack. Real pastors need to be people of character.
Intelligence: A Pastoral Concept
The text also deals with the fact that the pastor is able to teach. I used the word intelligence in the heading here not in terms of education or IQ. But rather in terms of dealing with the pastor’s ministry in a common sense manner. Every pastor should be able to teach. No, I don’t mean in the sense of teaching versus preaching. Seeing it is the only qualification relating to the pastor’s giftedness and spiritual ability, it distinguishes him from the deacons and others. The preaching and teaching of God’s word is the pastor’s primary duty. So then the real pastor must be pastor-teacher.
Coveting Pastors Have Hurt the Ministry
The real pastor cannot be in ministry to make money. The real pastor cannot have a prosperity message, when Jesus clearly said that “The poor will be with you always” (Matt. 26:11). And Paul tells Timothy that:
“…and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:5-10
There are false teachers who teach a prosperity message. And there are pastors who lean towards those types of messages, and others who are given in to those teachings entirely. They see a pastor on television and want the larger building and congregation. They think you have to have the best cars, suits, and a lovely wife (“hot wife” is the term used by some nowadays), and the kids have to dress a certain way. They have to eat out at the best restaurants, or at least eat out when some are struggling to make ends meet.
Look at the passage carefully and think it through.
If there are people in the church struggling, how does the pastor end up with the lifestyle of the rich and famous? What’s he doing in a house that would fit the description of rock star? Should the pastor cut a certain debonair style while the people are struggling? Not a real pastor. Don’t get me wrong if the church is in a suburban area, and the members are financially well off, it makes sense for the pastor’s salary to be such. But never at the expense of the people. He’s in a Mercedes Benz, Rolls Royce, with a closet full of suits, and the people are scraping to make ends meet, or riding the bus to church? That’s not God’s blessing on that pastor’s life, that’s people giving him a lifestyle above and beyond what God intended. Real pastors aren’t greedy and don’t try to justify materialism, from the cars, latest phones, numerous suits, best places to live, and their people live their lives daily struggling, but believe that they should sow to that pastor’s ministry, thinking that God’s going to bless their giving each time the pastor opens their mouth about giving.
A real pastor wouldn’t do that.