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A Look at the Lists: Pastoral Passages and the Character of a Christian Leader

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series

"Character of a Christian Leader"

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Symbol_list_classSeveral “C’s” help me organize my pastoral theology. A pastor must have the call, that is, a Spirit-given desire to be in ministry (cf. 1 Tim 3:1). He must also have a certain competency, that is, a Spirit-given gift-set that includes oversight and teaching (cf. 1 Tim 3:1–2). There must also be a confirmation, that is, the Spirit-led approval of the church as a whole to set aside a man to be an elder in his church (cf. 1 Tim 4:14; 5:22). Certain circumstances must be true of him as well, such as not being a recent convert (1 Tim 3:6) or one whose reputation among unbelievers is particularly disparaging (1 Tim 3:7).

To add another “C,” an obvious emphasis in Scripture is that pastors or leaders in general be men of character. Whatever one may mean by the term Christian leader, the leaders in the NT were apostles, pastors, and the like, and if one is a “leader” in the church in some capacity, passages that describe their required character should be our guide for evaluating leaders today. Today’s post begins a topical walk through 1 Timothy 3:1–7, Titus 1:5–9, and 1 Peter 5:1–4. Other passages will be referenced in the future for good measure (e.g., 1 Tim 4:12; 2 Tim 2:22).

1 Timothy 3:1–7 yields a dozen and one-half or so requirements for the overseer, depending on how one breaks apart certain descriptions. Apart from character, as referenced above, one of these requirements involves the overseer’s call (desire; 1 Tim 3:1), two others involve his competency (teaching and oversight of his home and the church; 1 Tim 3:2, 4–5), and two more involve his circumstances (not a new believer and well thought of by outsiders; 1 Tim 3:6–7). The majority of the remaining descriptions involve his character, most of which are found in 1 Tim 3:2–3. Here’s a list of these character requirements, using the Scriptural terms:

  1. above reproach (1 Tim 3:2)
  2. the husband of one wife (1 Tim 3:2)
  3. sober-minded (1 Tim 3:2)
  4. self-controlled (1 Tim 3:2)
  5. respectable (1 Tim 3:2)
  6. hospitable (1 Tim 3:2)
  7. not a drunkard (1 Tim 3:3)
  8. not violent (1 Tim 3:3)
  9. but gentle (1 Tim 3:3)
  10. not quarrelsome (1 Tim 3:3)
  11. not a lover of money (1 Tim 3:3)
  12. (not) puffed up with conceit (1 Tim 3:6)
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Titus 1:5–9 is similar in that it stresses competency, specifically an elder/overseer’s firm hold on God’s Word in order to teach it well and refute those who contradict its teaching (Titus 1:9). As in 1 Tim 3:1–7, an elder/overseer’s children must be faithful (however you choose to interpret faithfulness), which is a direct reflection of the elder/overseer’s competency to govern his home and thus the church (cf. 1 Tim 3:4–5). Also similar to 1 Tim 3:1–7 is that most of the dozen and one-half items in the text find an emphasis on character. Notice the remaining list:

  1. above reproach (Titus 1:6)
  2. the husband of one wife (Titus 1:6)
  3. above reproach (Titus 1:7)
  4. not be arrogant (Titus 1:7)
  5. (not) quick-tempered (Titus 1:7)
  6. (not) a drunkard (Titus 1:7)
  7. (not) violent (Titus 1:7)
  8. (not) greedy for gain (Titus 1:7)
  9. hospitable (Titus 1:8)
  10. a lover of good (Titus 1:8)
  11. self-controlled (Titus 1:8)
  12. upright (Titus 1:8)
  13. holy (Titus 1:8)
  14. disciplined (Titus 1:8)

Finally, 1 Peter 5:1–4 is a passage that yields a half-dozen traits for a pastor’s character as well. More specifically, elders are command to shepherd (1 Pet 5:2) according and not according to a certain manner and motivation:

  1. not under compulsion (1 Pet 5:2)
  2. willingly, as God would have you (1 Pet 5:2)
  3. not for shameful gain (1 Pet 5:2)
  4. eagerly (1 Pet 5:2)
  5. not domineering over those in your charge (1 Pet 5:3)
  6. being examples to the flock (1 Pet 5:3)
  7. Though Peter states it is a fact, one could say that his description of “the unfading crown of glory” for faithful service acts as a motivation as well, a reward for shepherding according to the guidelines in #’s 1–6 above (1 Pet 5:4; cf. 5:1).
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The Character of a Christian Leader

In the days ahead, we will take our time to examine these passages for common themes and take a closer look at each character trait.

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David Huffstutler

About David Huffstutler

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.

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