“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of 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
More On What The Pastor Should Be
Last time, I wanted to establish that a real pastor should have character. And not much has changed. As churches seek to fill pulpit vacancies—and exist in a country as well as a world system that is looking to find fault with God, the church, and Christians—the logical point of attack would seem to suggest its leaders. From a spiritual perspective, it appears then that if there was front to be brought down it would be very specifically the pastoral leader. The church that is in step with her Lord and the Word should be aware of the fact that the pastor and pastoral staff are in need of prayer. It was Pastor Rich Walker that stated, “No nation can be destroyed until its pastors are first nullified.” The enemy is fully aware of this, but I don’t believe there are many pastors that really get this concept.
Pastors Should Live Up To The Calling – Temperate: Is It Too Old School?
“A bishop then must be…temperate.”
1 Timothy 3:2-3
Pastors should be what they claim to be. And my intent is to address the fact that the pastor should be temperate according to the Scripture that has been submitted for the purpose of this article. A simple definition of the biblical word is self-control. And if you want to sum it up, pastors who have stolen money from their congregations’ bank accounts, or who cheat on their wives with other women, rape women, have sex with men and boys, or shared the stage with known false teachers have one thing in common—they have failed in the area of self-control. Pride, arrogance, over-eating, lust, and most pastoral failures can be tied together to one thing—a lack of self control. Being temperate (I intentionally chose the NKJV for the word) seems a little outdated, too old school, but it isn’t.
“But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”
1 Timothy 6:11
I would like to introduce a corresponding thought from a Scripture in the pastoral epistles because pastors have an affinity with being considered “men of God.” (And I am sure some women, too). While the Scripture Paul applies the term “man of God,” to Timothy, to designate Timothy in that way, places him in line with godly heritage—Moses, David, Elijah, and Elisha from the Old Testament. Paul’s implication is again this is a godly heritage for the pastor. It’s a special honor to be considered a man of God.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy are commands, instructions for functioning pastorally. Yes, leading and teaching are a huge aspect of ministry that Paul touched on, but the foundation under that is the man’s character. Paul uses words like righteousness, godliness, faith, and love as characteristics of the man of God. This is in contrast to what I would like to call the ungodly man. Paul cites what can be understood as that which is evident in the false teacher—characteristics he warns Timothy about earlier in the passage (see verses 3 thru 5).
There are many that claim to be men of God (and even though I’m not an egalitarian, some women as well claim to be women of God.) My admonition is that since many claim to be that, then pastors ought live up to the claim according to this passage in the Pastoral Epistles. The size of the congregation, the television programs, meeting with local politicians for purposes not related to the Gospel aren’t the signs of a man of God.
My favorite example of being temperate is found in sports. The boxer and wrestler has a particular weight that he/she must maintain before the match. So self control is needed when it comes to his appetite. Also, the runner must not eat what would slow him down as well. Yes, it depends on that runner’s giftedness, but eating junk food consistently isn’t healthy. And as a leader, if the pastor makes the claim of being “a man of God,” then the pastor must live up to that claim—exercising self-control and resisting the temptation basically to abuse his authority. A real pastor ought to have self control—and yes, that means when certain people and places like to offer you, “the pastor,” a large plate of unhealthy food, we as pastors have to let them know up front, “No, thank you.” Churches are not being kind contributing to a pastor’s waist line or bad health, by offering unhealthy foods, dessert, and such!
Head and Heart Connection
A real pastor must also be a clear thinker. Sober-minded is what the text says, and, literally, clear-headed is what it means. A real pastor knows how to order his priorities and is serious about spiritual matters. But let me drop this as well. It’s an illustration that comes from Dr. Robert Smith Jr. of Beeson Divinity School. He has applied it to some of the people in our churches and I believe it fits the people, but I think it has a rich application as I apply it to the pastor. I believe there are two kinds of pastors. When discussing the issues of the mind. Or head matters. One pastor is the brilliant, bright, all around smart guy. Nothing wrong with an intellectual aspect as it pertains to matters of life and ministry. The issue is that some, unfortunately, become big-headed—at times, frozen and cold in a pursuit to always be right or the smartest guy in the room, and even in the congregation. So then one kind of pastor is Big Headed. Advice: Have a mind for God, but be thoughtful of others, very specifically the people you lead.
The second type of pastor is what I like to call a mechanical pastor—God’s going to give it to me. Very light on study. He doesn’t read any books on preaching, ministry, devotional books, and doesn’t care if he mispronounces a word, and almost believes that ignorance is spiritual bliss. He knows that he’s not a seminary graduate, but it’s okay with him since he’s pasturing, he will be alright. So then this pastor is beheaded. Yes, that’s right. The head is cut off. From evangelicalism in the sense that he could be engaged with many others godly Bible teachers, pastors, and theologians. Trying so hard to be hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic! (an Isaac Hayes song). Advice: The Master’s Seminary has a list of 800 books that should be in the pastor’s library. It’s time we got these pastors some help in this new millennium. The point is that you want people to respect what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life, and then respect the work he’s done in the life of countless others. Let me say all books pale in comparison to the Bible, but if you can’t grasp the basics then you do need some help. We all need a heart and a mind for God, pastors much more than the rest of us. A real pastor knows that he needs both and isn’t ashamed to get resources that help build him and the congregation up.
Capital One likes to ask “What’s In Your Wallet?”
We need to ask some of the pastors what’s on their bookshelves? We will continue with more the next time.