The qualifications of this office are set forth in First Timothy and in Titus. The man that desires the office of a Bishop, and the church in which he will serve, should examine his life to see if he meets the criteria which God has given. Three areas should be examined to see if he is prepared to serve: his personal character, his private life, and his public testimony.
The qualities of his life will certainly overlap in these three areas, but it is good to divide them as best one can in order to get a good overall understanding of the man. Being blameless deals with his personal character, his private life, and his public life. He should have a clear conscience himself, knowing that, although he is not perfect, he is right with his walk with the Lord. Only he and God know the truth about this part of his life, but over time his character will reveal itself. Those that have known him for a long time should have confidence in his faith in God. His personal relationships should testify to his character also. He should be a man that is above the reproach of his wife and children. He should be a man that is able to minister with confidence in the community because they can place no blame on him When the religious leaders hurled accusations at the Lord Jesus and even later, at Paul and Silas, they could only accuse them of their filial service to God.
His character is to be regarded as one of strength. His reliance in on the Lord and he is not easily disturbed. “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; “(1 Timothy 3:2 AV) The word, vigilant, literally refers to abstaining from intoxicating drinks. It was used almost exclusively in a metaphorical sense to describe the a person that had the strength of character to refuse to indulge in anything that would harm his testimony. He was to be a man that manifested the quiet and calm strength and soberness, that people could trust in. He was a vessel that was fitted by God for service “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.” (Titus 1:6 AV)
Some men, even Christians, are ready to return blow for blow. Their anger flares out of control and sad to say, even when they are not angry, those around them know that they are just waiting for an opportunity to quarrel. God commands that these negative characteristics have no place in the man of God. “Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;” (1 Timothy 3:3 AV) He is to be patient and ready to look out for the good of others. He is not to be self-seeking and using opportunities to promote himself. “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; ” (Titus 1:7 AV) He is to be an Ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ and to promote Him and His Kingdom. He will depend upon the Lord to supply his needs and is satisfied with that which the Lord gives. He will have the desire to be a good steward of the Lord and will note that as he grows in his management skills, the Lord will give him more to manage.
The pastor must be a just man. He should manifest such a testimony in his character that all that are aquainted with him know that he is a person that can be trusted to be right. This is an awesome responsibility and man will fail miserably if not for the Word of God and His leadership. The pastor should stand for what is right as He stands upon the truth of God’s Word. God is always right and the pastor will be right as he bases his judgment upon the Scriptures. He should have the strength of character to remain steadfast in his convictions and not be blown about by every doctrine or confrontation that comes along. People will challenge him, telling him that he is just a man like everyone else and his opinion is no better than anyone else’s. He can certainly acknowledge this as being truth, but he is not preaching opinion, he is preaching doctrine. As much as he is just, he is to be holy. The pastor should be separated unto the Lord and be walking in close fellowship with Him. He should have the confidence of his character that he is unspotted from the world. He stays close to God. Parents have been rebuking their children for ages, saying to them “you need more SELF CONTROL”! Actually what they need is the same thing that is required in the character of the pastor, more of “GOD’S CONTROL”! To be temperate is to be master of self according to the world’s definition, but the Christian knows what being master of self leads to – destruction. The pastor that manifest temperance in his character is yielded to the control of God and his strength is in the Lord. He is able to make his decisions based on the leadership of the Lord instead of the lust of the flesh. This is a vital characteristic in every Christian and especially should be shown in the lives of the leaders. “But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;” (Titus 1:8 AV)
The pastor must build and strengthen his character through the Word of God. He must believe himself what he is preaching and teaching and he must show the work of the Word in his own life. “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. “(Titus 1:9 AV) The message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but it is noticed that Paul spoke that the message will result in a changed life which should be open to public witness. The message is twofold:
1. This is what God’s Word says: Look to the Scriptures.
2. This is what God’s Word does: Look at my life.
The pastor’s character must reflect not only the knowledge of the Word of God, but also the experience of the Word of God. “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4:5 AV)
Turning to the private life of the man, it is seen that he is to be husband of one wife. The issue was not polygamy, but divorce. He is to be a “one-woman man”. He is to exemplify the best possibilities of interpersonal relationships. His personal character will be made stronger by the bond of marriage. He will be an encouragement in the community by the testimony of his private life. “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; “(1 Timothy 3:2 AV) He should endeavor to give his family the privilege of privacy, but he should also not hide from the community. His loving and stable relationship will encourage young and old alike. In doing this, he will be behaving appropriately as a pastor. There is a decorum that should be maintained, not a Pharisical aloofness, but a practical consideration of being a leader and an example in the community. It has been argued that what a man does in the privacy of his own home is his business, but this is just an excuse to sin. What is done, no matter where, is God’s business and everything should be done to His glory. This argument has been produced in defense of having an alcoholic beverage in the home – for whatever reason. The pastor is commanded to abstain from wine – an alcoholic beverage. “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; “(Titus 1:7 AV) If his personal character is conformed to the leadership of God, this will include “any” alcoholic beverage. His testimony to his wife and children is no less important than his testimony in the community or his personal character. Men have shamefully neglected their responsibilities in the area of raising their children. They have abandoned them to the care of the wife and claimed excuse due to the constraints of career. The pastor must lead his home according the Scriptures, thereby realizing that the children are his responsibility, not his wife’s. He is the primary agent of instruction and discipline. The wife will certainly have a large part in the upbringing of the children, but the man is accountable as husband and father.
One that rules his house well. “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) “(1 Timothy 3:4-5 AV) The Lord promotes those that are faithful in that which they are currently involved. Men do not have to show perfection before God will use them, but they do have to be faithful in what they are doing before they will have their responsibility increased. “And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” (Luke 19:17 AV) The man that is going to lead the church and have a testimony in the community must first have a good testimony in his own home. “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. “(Titus 1:6 AV)
The public life is that which is most evident to all and is noted in the Scriptures here by being given to hospitality. “A bishop then must be ……. given to hospitality, apt to teach; “(1 Timothy 3:2 AV) The man is to be known as one that loves strangers. The message of the pastor is the gospel, the good news – God loves you and died for you. The message of the love of God should not be contradicted by the actions of the man presenting the message through not loving those that he is preaching to. Jesus loved men, even when He did not like what they did. The world has so mixed “love” and “like” with “lust” that people do not understand the difference. The pastor has to live the difference before men and teach them to understand. “But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. “(Titus 1:8-9 AV)
The man that would be the pastor must be both ready and able to teach. He must be prepared to learn and to share what he has learned with others. Paul explained to Timothy the importance of teaching and why the teacher needs to genuinely care that the student learns and that he is not just involved in the exercise of his speaking talents. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26 AV)
The pastor must not be a novice, but should be experienced in both his knowledge and practice of God’s Word. “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6 AV) The pastor should be respected according to his ministry and labor among the people. A danger presents itself to a novice of becoming proud of self because of certain accomplishments instead of being proud of God. He must be careful to maintain a good testimony in the community as one that is devoted to God, family, and community. “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:7 AV)
The pastor must be a good steward, or manager, of the things of God. “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;” (Titus 1:7 AV) This management includes every area of his life. The thing that passes away the fastest on this earth is the man. Even his testimony will often last longer than he does. The pastor must realize that he should set the example in the community as a good manager of his time (work and leisure), material possessions, and community involvement. He needs to have the testimony of faithfulness in every area of life. “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2 AV)