How does one become a “pastor?” I mean, what are the qualifications to be the shepherd of a flock?
Are you required to have knowledge of the Bible? Do you need a seminary degree? Are you required to be an expert on marriage and family? Seriously, what are the requirements for the job of a pastor?
The Bible tells us what the qualification of an elder (or bishop, cf 1 Tim. 3:2), which is the office that normally a pastor, the gift (Eph. 4:11), is.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. -1 Timothy 3:2-9
Paul goes on in that same passage to state the qualifications of deacons, or servants, in the Church in verses 11-13. To make sure the Church doesn’t miss the qualification of the pastor, he reiterates them in Titus 1.
If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. –Titus 1:6-9
I do not apologize to the pastors that I am probably offending right now. I am a “salty” guy and I am known to tackle subjects and ask questions that others are too afraid to ask. And yes, there are a lot of questions that do need to be asked.
I spent the earlier part of my career as a high school football coach. As is often the case, as a young coach I dabbled in many different sports before I found that my gifting was best suited to football. My experience has taught me that anyone can be a “coach,” but not everyone can lead. I’ve also come to understand that leadership and dictatorship are not the same things.
Jesus was a leader. Paul was a leader. Peter became a great leader. I suppose in a funny sort of way they were also called “pastor”, but their gift was leading…not pastoring. Every time I hear the word “pastor” I think of what they do to old coaches…put them “out to pasture.” Being “put out to pasture” simply means living out your remaining lifetime without bothering or influencing anyone else.
Perhaps we should call the guys standing in our pulpits “pastures.”
Oh, please spare me the emails explaining how tough the job of pastoring is. Try being a coach with 5,000 rabid parishioners screaming about every “bad” decision that you make.
Pasturing…hmmm…I think I’m on to something here. That is really what most men in the pulpit really do, isn’t it? They lead the sheep into the pasture and keep them fenced in and at a safe distance from the wolves. Well, it’s time for pastors to stop “pasturing” and start leading!
This past Saturday I was privileged to be part of the nationwide protest of Planned Parenthood held in over 300 cities across America with over 700 folks turning out at our local event in Columbus. Those of us who regularly go to the death pits called abortion “clinics” were greatly encouraged to see so many come out to stand at the gates of hell for the first time. We have many testimonies from those who were changed by those mere two hours on the streets.
But you know me; I’m never satisfied and the salty side of me always seems to rear its head, so as I walked around speaking with the folks on the streets I dropped a little bit of salt on their tongues.
“Good to see you today. Thanks for coming. Is your pastor here? I’d like to thank him.”
You know the answer. Of course, with very few exceptions, their pastor wasn’t there. He was too busy “pasturing” somewhere. But oh he’s pro-life. He votes for the Republicans. He prays that abortion will end but doesn’t lift a finger to end it. He doesn’t think the church should be involved in “politics.”
News flash: Baby murder is not “politics!” Baby murder is happening every day in this nation with the permission of churches and their pro-life “pastures.”
Pastor John Piper in Minnesota encouraged his congregation to attend the protest WITH HIM last Saturday. They did. Nearly 6,000 showed up at their event because the pastor LED! Where the hell were the rest of our “mega-pastors?”
Where were TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, John McArthur, Joyce Meyer, Bill Hybels, Paula White, Jentezen Franklin, and many other “Christian stars?” Where was Jim Daly of Focus on the Scamily? Did anyone see Tony Perkins of FRC? Did any of these huge “ministries” mobilize to encourage the outcry necessary to end abortion in America?
They were probably having lunch with some leaders of the Republican Party or on a cruise to the Holy Land. Ending abortion is not very high on their list of priorities. They are satisfied simply encouraging folks to “pray that God will end abortion” as if ending abortion is God’s job…
OK, now let me bring this whole commentary a little closer to home.
I had a number of people at the event tell me that their “pasture” hadn’t said a thing from the pulpit about the Planned Parenthood videos. Most had come because they heard about it from a friend or had read about it on the internet. Sad, but true…the pulpits are silent.
Now let’s get back to the qualifications to become a pastor. I remember when I first starting applying for coaching positions as a rookie out of college. Those who were interested in hiring me always inquired about my playing experience, as they understood that the game is best learned by playing it. Rare, indeed, is the great coach who never played the game.
Has your pastor ever played the game? Has he ever taken the Gospel to the streets and followed the urging of Jude to “earnestly contend for the faith?” or has he been able to secure his job based solely on his academic achievements. Can he skillfully dissect the Bible inside and out but somehow cannot seem to find between its covers the charge to “rescue those who are unjustly lead to the slaughter?” Has he ever played the game, or has he merely spent his entire life analyzing and critiquing the play book? As is oft said, “he sure talks a good game.”
Tell your “pasture” it’s time for him to man-up and get in the game. Tell him it’s time to lead, not just talk. Tell him that babies are dying (and we know they’re dying) and that God wants His Church to do something about it. Tell him that you will not give one more dollar until he ups his game and starts talking about the issues that truly matter. Tell him it’s time to lead. It’s time to stop asking God to do for us what we refuse to do for ourselves.
Is turning a blind eye leading? Is stuffing a sock in your mouth leading? Is refusing to rescue the innocent because of the potential consequences leading? If your “pasture” is hiding in the closet on the most significant issue of our generation, then the answer is painfully clear.
He is unqualified and unfit for leadership!