1 Timothy 3:4-5
Qualifications for Overseers
I’ll never forget when I was a young pastor attending an ecumenical meeting with other pastors and priests from around the area. I can’t remember the topic of discussion but I do remember one pastor joking that his teenage son was “half-pagan.” That a man of God would have such a son—and laugh about it on top of that—made quite an impression on me. Oh, I know children can go wrong even when godly parents put forth their best efforts, but this man seemed quite nonchalant about the whole affair. In short, he had no business being in the position he was in.
In 3:15, Paul calls the church the “household of God.” In the passage before us, the Apostle is speaking of the household of the pastor, and he makes it abundantly clear that there is a relationship between the two. Men who would pastor churches must pastor their own households; men who would be examples of godliness in churches must be such examples in their homes; men who would provide wise counsel to the brethren in their studies must provide such unto their own children; men who love the Lord’s bride must first learn to love their own bride; men who care for and spend their lives for the household of God must first learn to care for and spend their lives at the household which must be their first concern. What does it matter if a man builds the greatest church in the world but fails to love his wife or guide his children with a firm but loving hand? So Paul makes it clear, “If someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church?” And the answer is, “He can’t.”
Now we are light years away from Paul’s concern in this letter. Paul is not talking about the massive bureaucratic machines many churches have become today—managing programs and budgets, and the red tape of legalities concerning the handling of money and employees which states continually pile on churches—a necessary evil given the mismanagement and public disgrace of some in these matters. What Paul is discussing here is the pastor’s role in guarding the integrity of the local church through sound teaching of the word, correcting erring members of the body who are going astray, encouraging weaker brethren who need continual care, and guiding with a firm but gentle hand which keeps the church on course growing in godliness while not allowing petty disagreements and distractions to throw the church off the rails. BUT he must have the same care for his family. Being a pastor’s wife and child is difficult; indeed, the family itself is called. And so he must be a pastor in his own home, and so must be every man.