The list of pastoral qualifications is relatively broad – I believe intentionally. God wants His churches to be discerning. For this reason, it is not always possible to identify a strict point at which a pastor would be disqualified based on these standards. For example, I have no idea when a pastor would be disqualified based on how he practices hospitality (a practice that both Timothy and Titus require). If the pastor is sometimes reluctant to open his home to guests, is he therefore disqualified? He isn’t a “lover of hospitality.” Should the church have a minimum requirement for their pastor, how often he must invite guests to his home? If the deacons haven’t had dinner at his house in a couple of years, is that grounds for removal? Hardly.
Similarly, Titus says that the pastor must not be “self-willed” or “soon angry.” I know many pastors who would be in serious trouble if their church strictly applied these qualifications. Their entire ministry is marked by self-will. They are hot-headed bullies. These qualifications count every bit as much as the requirement that a pastor be “blameless.” Yet, pastors and churches regularly overlook or ignore these standards. At what point should a hot-tempered pastor be sacked? That answer may not be so immediately apparent.
For most of these qualifications, it would be impossible to lay down a minimal standard that a pastor must meet to avoid disqualification. Again, I believe this to be a design feature of the qualifications. God didn’t give these lists so we could defrock the pastor. The list provides a standard that every pastor should strive to meet. They give the church a benchmark to look for in a pastor. But God made these qualifications sufficiently broad, leaving room for interpretation.
Two or three of these specific qualifications are relatively straightforward, and grounds for removal would at least be identifiable. On the negative side, a pastor must not be a “striker” or a “brawler,” he must not be “greedy of filthy lucre,” and he must not be “given to wine.” On the positive side, he must be “the husband of one wife;” he must “rule well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;” “he must have a good report of them which are without” (all taken from Timothy’s list).
I intend to discuss a minimal requirement that, if not met, should result in removal. Not to repeat everything I have said, but individual churches would determine when and how to enforce these standards. Nor should a church consider these as minimal standards for a pastoral candidate. A pastor should strive for the highest quality in his everyday life based on Scriptural standards. What I am discussing here is the minimum expectation which, if not met, should result in the removal of the pastor.
For the sake of organization, we will consider the negative qualifiers in this post, then consider the positive qualifiers later. Negatively, a pastor must not be a striker or a brawler, he must not be “money greedy,” and he must not be given to wine.
What about the pastor’s temper?
Let me preface what I have to say here with a word about the effeminacy of our age. America has a pandemic of effeminate pastors. If a backboned man leads your church, then you know that from time to time, he will get a little hot. Inasmuch as his wrath is motivated by the purity of the church and the honor of God, a church should be grateful that they have such a pastor.
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