For an explanation of “Ordinary Time,” go to the tab “Ordinary Time, Year III: The Letters,” and then click “Introducing Ordinary Time to Evangelical Churches
1 Timothy 3:3
Qualifications for Overseers
It’s taken three devotions to get to verse three but that only proves the importance of this passage of Scripture. The Church can’t have just any man; she must have men who are qualified for the office of pastor. Better to have a few that are qualified that many who aren’t.
With verse three, Paul adopts negatives to tell us what an overseer must NOT be: “Not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” The Bible does not teach abstinence, but there is no question that alcohol has wrought havoc in millions of lives and destroyed countless families. It is something everyone must treat with care; this is especially true for ministers. It is such dissolute behavior as this along with sexual immorality and indiscretions regarding money that brings public disgrace upon the ministry and the Church. One might think it would go without saying that a bishop should not be violent but then we consider discourse in our own time. There is no question but that social media has so corrupted public discourse that rudeness is a fashion. The former qualifications (sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable) completely exclude men who are quarrelsome. Scripture in many places calls our God “slow to anger.” This requires a cool head, a steady hand, and certain amount of reserve regarding displays of emotion. A pastor should always be warm and gentle but not easily aroused to flights of hysteria or bogged down in worry or morbid preoccupation.
The last “not” is that he must not be a lover of money. This is a difficult one. Big name television preachers notwithstanding, the ministry is not a profession one enters for the sake of getting rich. Pastors and their families often go without many of the luxuries other families take for granted, from vacations to Christmas gifts. Discontent is often hard to fight and gratitude hard to come by. Pastors must seek blessings in other places. When the Israelites were apportioning the land, “the Levites [had] no portion…for the priesthood of the Lord [was] their heritage” (Joshua 18:7). Pastors must learn that their remuneration comes from heaven, both in the present blessings of ministry and the crown they shall one day receive in glory. And we must all learn to be content (Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:8).
Being an overseer means there are some things you simply cannot do. Call it a double standard, but it goes with the territory. But the Church needs men who will take up the cross for the joy of godliness.