I used to be of the mindset “give him a bible and let him preach!” I’d shake my head at anyone who mentioned any sort of qualifications needed for someone to do ministry, thinking those were just made up legalistic rules to create a sense of order. I’d argue how of all of the disciples were extremely uneducated and unqualified, yet preached the gospel and reached the masses.
But as I studied what Scripture said, I realized that, yes, every Christ-follower should spread the gospel and make disciples. But there truly are certain qualifications for those who want to be actual overseers or leaders in the church. You probably wouldn’t get on a ship with a “captain” who really had a heart for travel but didn’t know a single thing about how to run or navigate a ship.
Now, let me be very clear. The point of this is not for you to go and complain about how bad your pastor is. But rather a biblical list for pastors and those who want to do ministry to evaluate themselves and continue to be refined by Jesus.
In 1 Timothy 3, Paul writes to his protege Timothy; If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be:
1.) Above Reproach
Not having to be perfect, but doesn’t have any serious character issues and overall lives a godly life.
2.) Husband of One Wife
To be exclusively committed and devoted to his wife. This isn’t disqualifying the single or divorced, but if married, that he has a sound marriage.
Not led by emotions or lusts, but rather led by the Spirit. To be temperate.
Has good judgement and controls his desires and focus. Controlled by the power of the Spirit.
This speaks about having an general control of one’s life and responsibility. Not to have it all together, but being able to balance life’s tasks so he can then balance responsibility of the church.
Not that a pastor should constantly have his home filled with guests, but rather to be a friend of sinners and be welcoming to those who aren’t followers of Jesus.
7.) Able to Teach
Has to be able to interpret Scripture and teach it to others so that they can understand and apply it to their lives.
8.) Not a Drunkard
As Mark Driscoll says, “You know you are in trouble as a pastor when your accountability group is Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, and Jose Cuervo.” Not that a pastor can’t enjoy a good brewski every now and then, but not to the point of addiction or getting drunk.
9.) Not Violent
You might want to look into a different profession if you handle conflict with your fists.
Not to be passive or weak. But to be flexible and not always needing to have your way.
11.) Not Quarrelsome
If most discussions turn into arguments, then this might be a qualification to work on.
12.) Not a Lover of Money
If a pastor has a love for money, then it’s going to affect the way the church is run. Money is a good tool, but love for money is not.
13.) Managing His Own Household Well
It’s often said that your family is your first ministry. If one can’t manage their household, how are they going to manage a whole church?
14.) Not a Recent Convert
There isn’t a specific time frame, but someone who just decided to follow Jesus and is very immature in his faith probably shouldn’t be put in charge of a church the next Sunday.
15.) Well Thought of by Outsiders
Certainly somethings are going to rub non-Christians the wrong way. But a pastor should pursue relationships with unbelievers and overall be respected in those relationships.
For a more in depth look at the qualifications of ministry. Pick up a copy of Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission.