Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Not Just For Pastors

Chapter 3 of I Timothy (I Timothy 3) deals with the qualifications of pastors and deacons. Just prior to this, Paul wrote about some differences between men and women, so in context it is safe to assume that when he begins with the statement, “This is a true saying: If a man desire the office of bishop, he desireth a good work,” Paul is still using the word man to refer to the male gender, not to refer to any human. In looking at the preceding chapters, we have already seen that Paul is calling for men to lead in the church, so we need not discuss that women are not to be preachers more than that.

Aside from the differences between the qualifications of a pastor and that of a deacon, such as pastors aren’t to drink wine while deacons can drink in moderation, we can summarize these two lists by saying that when considering a man for either of those positions we should examine his personal life. If he doesn’t rule his own house well, we shouldn’t be surprised when he can’t lead the church very well either. Pride and a bad reputation can cause the man and the church trouble.

Reading down through the lists, it is easy to see that it would be a good idea for all of us to try to meet these qualifications, even if we never have any intention of being a pastor or a deacon. If you’re looking for what it takes to be a good person, these lists seem to tell us.

We might also consider these lists when we look at other positions in the church. We tend to separate out the pastors and deacons, but today we have positions in the church that Paul knew nothing about. Take the Sunday school teacher or small group leader, for example. While they don’t have all the same responsibilities that a pastor has, in many ways they serve in a similar capacity. We want them to be “apt to teach” and “given to hospitality” and a number of other things that apply to pastors. But how many times have we seen churches stick a new Christian in as a Sunday school teacher because the person is willing. So much for him “not be[ing] a novice in the faith.”

Paul is talking specifically about pastors and deacons, but we shouldn’t stop there. We should give careful consideration to the qualifications of the people we place in all positions throughout a church.