1 Timothy 3:2
Qualifications for Overseers
I ended yesterday’s devotion by saying that pastors are not required to be likeable. I do not mean to say that pastors should strive to be unlikeable, but only that “likeable” is nowhere mentioned in Scripture as a qualification for any office which God has established. In fact, God’s prophets were often hated by God’s own people and even martyred. Furthermore, being a people-pleaser is condemned every place it is mentioned in Scripture, and no group of people could be indicted for that sin more than pastors. I call this to your attention so that if you are one who complains that you and your pastor don’t quite “hit it off” or that he seems oftentimes aloof, bear in mind that he is not there to be your “bud,” and that his “aloofness” might be due to a character that concerns itself with matters that require deep thought and meditation, so that when he does speak to you, he might speak a meaningful word into your life rather than talk to you about the weather.
We left off yesterday with “hospitable.” Hospitality was huge in the ancient world. It is still the way today in the Mediterranean world where if you enter someone’s house you will be expected to sit down to eat. Indeed, bishops in the early church were expected to open their houses to people on a regular basis that weary travelers might have a meal and a place to sleep for the night. Perhaps such a practice is no longer needed in our day, at least in the “developed world,” but this only means that we must find other ways to practice hospitality. In other words, being hospitable is not an option, and in our current hyper-partisan society, it might be the best way to bear witness to Jesus Christ. And be aware that the Scripture is speaking of personal hospitality—not soup kitchens or homeless shelters, though these are certainly needed. But how often do we give money to these places so others can be hospitable for us? At any rate, pastors must return to placing a premium on showing hospitality to all people and especially those in need.
An elder must also be “able to teach.” This qualification is not listed for deacons indicating that this qualification marks the pastor from the deacon. The pastor must teach and preach the word of God and rightly divide the “word of Truth.” And allow me to say, THIS REQUIRES TRAINING. Yes, there have been men who were good teachers who did not have a seminary education, but they are the exception. A pastor needs to know Greek, some Hebrew, Bible, theology, church history, and basic church management—and at a good Bible-believing school. We need Spirit-filled AND educated ministers that we may have men who are “able to teach.”