Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who you are defines what you do.

Yesterday I met with a young man interested in the pastorate/eldership/ministry. He asked me what I look for in a man in that regard.

I hadn't prepared an answer, but quickly came out with the following:

1. I look for a man with a passion for the word of God.

He has to be convinced of the certrality and necessity of the Bible. If he's not convinced of the authority and sufficiency of God's Word, he will be susceptible to pragmatism, compromise, and self-reliance.

There's no substitute for the transforming nature of God's Word in church & personal life.

2. I look for a man with a passion for holiness.

I want a leader who is pursuing Christ, then he just takes others along with him. But attitude reflects leadership. If the leaders don't take seriously a pursuit of holiness in the spirit of Semper Reformanda, "always reforming," the people/church will become complacent with a sub par spirituality. Consequently, the church will be ineffective in the community and with regard to glorifying the Holy One who redeemed them to be like Him.

There's no substitute for personal holiness in the performance of pastoral duties.

3. I look for a man with a passion for the local church.

This would have disqualified hordes of jokers I knew in seminary, who demonstrated minimal (at best) commitment to their congregations while in seminary.

The local church is mechanism by which God executes the Great Commission. The local church is not merely a job or a place to do something by which we feel significant, but it's Christ's body in this world. Though it be flawed due to sinners being made holy, we love the people because Christ love the church. We love what He loves.

There's no substitute for the environment in which God transforms His children to be His ambassadors in communities they're infiltrating for Christ.

All the stuff in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are essential, of course, as are how he handles his children and gets along with his wife. However, many of those things we can work on.

We can provide mentoring and training therein, but I can't give a guy a passion for the Word, holiness, or the local church. Without those there's reason for him to question his calling and for the church to be hesitant in affirming any such calling.

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At 18 June, 2009 06:51, Anonymous Lance said...

You know what constantly convicted me as a pastor/elder was the list of qualities found in 1 Tim and Titus.

To be held to an "above reproach" standard is quite a sobering way to live and a constant (yet beneficial) burden the pastor/elder must bear.

Appreciate your thoughts on a love for Christ's Body, esp. your observations that some who go into ministry seem to not value this as much. Strange.

At 18 June, 2009 08:27, Blogger GUNNY said...

Yeah, there've been times I wanted to chat with Paul about that "above reproach" slooge, saying, "You were serious about that?"

At 18 June, 2009 09:56, Anonymous Young Wife said...

I totally agree with you. One other thing I look for in a pastor/prospective pastor is that they aren't so focused on preaching that they completely disregard all other aspects of the church. Some pastors do not care how long they preach. This is very hard on nursery workers. Some pastors think preaching is the only important part of church, and so their church has no small groups or good Sunday School classes. And of course there are the pastors who think that because they preach a sermon on Sunday morning, they don't ever need to get their hands dirty by doing manual labor. Praise God my pastor's not like that!

At 18 June, 2009 13:38, Blogger GUNNY said...

Nothing like a little manual labor, especially if you get to help rebuild a retaining wall. ;-)

Great points, particularly the idea that preaching is all there is. Although the role of the Word is vital and preaching/teaching is key, the calling/office is much more.

Teaching preaching I used to have to hammer this home, especially because so many of them proudly proclaimed, "I'm called to preach."

I would lovingly respond back with something along the lines of, "Where's the office of 'preacher' in the New Testament?"

Elders are to shepherd the flock, part of which is to make sure they are well fed and not fed with garbage.

At 22 June, 2009 08:11, Blogger samurai said...

Gunny ~ this entry spoke to me on Friday when i read it the first time... and then again this morning.

I am going to print out a copy to meditate on some more... and may God help me understand better...

At 24 June, 2009 08:23, Anonymous Young Wife said...

Yeah, Gunny. We should have talked about Nehemiah while you guys were working on the wall!


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