The Requirements for a Pastor
Is your church looking for a pastor? If it is not doing so right now, it will be in the future. Pastors resign, retire, move, or pass away, leaving churches with the need to find their next pastor. The Bible is not only sufficient to help a church figure out who that next man should be (and hopefully the church is training these kind of men already; cf. 2 Tim 2:2), but it helpfully gives specific instruction on exactly what kind of man the pastor should be.
While many passages help us understand the character and role of a pastor, 1 Timothy 3:1–7, Titus 1:5–9, and 1 Peter 5:1–4 are especially helpful in listing out what is required of men who are pastors. 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9 primarily inform the readers as to the character and abilities of a pastor, and 1 Peter 5:1–4 primarily exhorts pastors as to the manner and motives for their ministry. What follows below is a comprehensive list of the twenty-two requirements in those passages. The list below primarily follows the list in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and adds what is left from Titus 1:5–9 and 1 Peter 5:1–4. The list is categorized into four types of requirements—family, character, ability, and circumstances. The list of character requirements is further categorized into positive and negative character traits.
- A pastor must first desire to be a pastor (1 Tim 3:1), and this desire should be guided by proper motivations (cf. 1 Pet 5:2, 4).
- He must not be a recent convert because a newborn Christian appointed to leadership could fall into pride and condemnation (1 Tim 3:6).
- He must be well thought of by outsiders, that is, unbelievers (1 Tim 3:7).
Positive Character Requirements (What He Must Be)
- He must be above reproach in both his character (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:7) and family (Titus 1:6, 9), a description which functions as somewhat of a headword for all of the character traits to follow in both 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The pastor is naturally an example for others in all of the items in the list (cf. 1 Pet 5:3).
- He is the husband of one wife, which means he is faithful and pure, whether married or not (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:6).
- He is sober-minded (1 Tim 3:2).
- He is self-controlled in his thoughts (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:8) and disciplined in his bodily appetites as well (Titus 1:8).
- He is respectable (1 Tim 3:2).
- He is hospitable (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:8).
- He is gentle (1 Tim 3:3; cf. 1 Pet 5:3, “not domineering”).
- He is a lover of good (Titus 1:8).
- He is upright (Titus 1:8).
- He is holy (Titus 1:8).
Negative Character Requirements (What He Must Not Be)
- He is not a drunkard (1 Tim 3:3; Titus 1:7).
- He is not violent (1 Tim 3:3; Titus 1:7).
- He is not quarrelsome (1 Tim 3:3).
- He is not a lover of money (1 Tim 3:3) and not greedy for gain (Titus 1:7; cf. 1 Pet 5:2).
- He is not arrogant (Titus 1:7).
- He is not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7).
- He manages his household well, which, if he has children, is seen in part by having submissive children, meaning at the least that his children are not openly rebellious and engaged in riotous living (1 Tim 3:4–5; Titus 1:6).
- He is able to manage and care for the church as a whole (1 Tim 3:5) as the overseer of the church (1 Tim 3:1; Titus 1:7).
- He is able to teach (1 Tim 3:2), which Titus 1:9 elaborates as the pastor being 1) “taught,” 2) one to “hold firm to the trustworthy word,” 3) “able to give instruction in sound doctrine,” and 4) “able… also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
All quotes ESV
About David Huffstutler
David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. 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.