From the book, What People Ask About The Church, by Dale A. Robbins
In our society, a minister is a generic term that usually refers to
a pastor, preacher or clergyman. For our purpose here, we are referring to all such
ministers in general, who are officially ordained or commissioned by a church to carry out
some form of spiritual leadership.
Above all things, the qualifications of a minister must first
include a divine calling (Acts 13:2). Someone once said that there are two kinds of people
who enter the ministry: Persons called by God or fools. The meaning of this is, due to the
many adversities faced in ministry, it is a great mistake to become a minister, especially
a pastor, unless you have received a specific call from God. No amount of education from a
Bible college or seminary can ever compensate for its absence.
A call from God is somewhat difficult to describe, and may vary in
interpretation from one person to another. Some have heard audible voices or seen visions,
while others have simply discerned an inner "awareness" of God's calling upon
their life. A wise, elderly pastor once spoke to prospective ministerial students on the
subject. He said, "Do anything you can to stay out of the ministry, unless you can't
do anything but get into it. If God has truly called you in the ministry, He'll put you
there He'll provide the opportunity and make the way. Don't seek the ministry
unless it's something you can't avoid. Then you will know that it's His doing and not
yours, and that He'll see you through when things get tough."
Those who answer the call to become ministers, should be mature,
Spirit-filled Christians who possess an intense love for Christ and their fellow man. They
should show signs of the appropriate giftings in their inclined field of ministry, and
seek to enhance these through applied study and training by attending a Bible
college or seminary if possible. But more than preaching ability or other gifts, a
minister of the Gospel must be a person of exceptional character, endowed with spiritual
fruit, devoted to prayer and the study of God's Word.
A minister must have a sound mind and common sense. He should
possess wisdom and tact in dealing with people, and be able to communicate clearly and
authoritatively. He must understand how people live, work and struggle, and be able to be
empathic and compassionate to their concerns. His own financial affairs should be in good
order, and he should have a strong understanding of the business aspects of a church.
A minister must be an impartial person, who will care for all the
sheep of his flock equally. He must have a love for the souls of people, and a longing to
lead them to a personal relationship with Christ to contribute to their spiritual
growth and development. One of the minister's greatest characteristics must be
"patience," as people are very difficult to deal with, and only someone endowed
with an unusual measure of patience can tolerate the ordeals of humanity. The heart of a
pastor will be that of a shepherd one who leads, feeds, cares for, and protects the
A minister is a general term that refers to any of the Lord's
servants or preachers, but probably more specifically relates to what the New Testament
calls an "elder." Elders are an order of mature believers charged with the
spiritual supervision and ministry of the church. The terms elder, bishop, and pastor were
used interchangeably in scripture, and their qualifications were the same (1 Tim. 3:1-7,
Tit. 1:5-9). (A deacon is also another type of minister, but with a separate list of
qualifications in 1 Tim. 3:8-13.)
There are two scripture passages which specify the qualifications of
the bishop, pastor, or elder. Both were authored by Paul, first to Timothy and then to
1 Tim. 3:1 "This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the
position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
Titus 1:5 "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should
set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded
You will notice that both passages are very similar, but not
identical. By combining what he expressed in the separate epistles, we gain a broad
picture of what were considered the prerequisites of elders.
Epistle of 1 Timothy 1) Above
reproach, 2) Husband of one wife, 3) Temperate, 4) Prudent, 5) Respectable, 6) Hospitable,
7) Able to teach, 8) Not addicted to wine, 9) Not belligerent, 10) Gentle, 11)
Uncontentious, 12) Free from love of money, 13) Manages household well, 14) Not a new
convert, 15) A good reputation inside and outside the church.
Epistle of Titus 1) Above reproach,
2) Husband of one wife, 3) Having children who believe, 4) Not self-willed, 5) Not quick
tempered, 6) Not addicted to wine, 7) Not belligerent, 8) Not fond of sordid gain, 9)
Hospitable, 10) Lover of what is good, 11) Sensible, 12) Just, 13) Devout, 14)
Self-controlled, 15) Holding fast the word both to exhort and refute.
In his highly respected book, Biblical Eldership, Alexander Strauch
wrote the following commentary regarding these passages on church eldership:
"The elders, as Peter says, are examples to the people (1 Peter
5:3). Therefore, they must represent what God desires every member of the congregation to
be in character and conduct. Those inside as well as outside the church first look to
those who stand as leaders. It is understandable if a new or struggling believer falls
prey to sin or hypocrisy, but when one who leads the congregation is found in reproach,
the world blasphemes the teaching of the gospel, and saints within the church become
disillusioned some even turning away from the church. For these reasons, the
stewards of God's household must be above reproach."
"Furthermore, local congregations tend to mold themselves
according to their leaders a tendency clearly seen throughout the Old Testament.
When Israel had a bad king, for example, the people were sinful. When Israel had a good
king, the people followed the Lord. Because people are like sheep, their shepherds have a
profound impact on their direction and spiritual well-being. Therefore:
(1) "If an elder has a contentious spirit, the people will
inevitably become contentious. So, a man with a contentious disposition is not qualified
for eldership even if he has the greatest teaching gift in the world (1 Timothy
3:3, Titus 1:7).
(2) "If an elder is not hospitable, the people will be
unfriendly and cold (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8).
(3) "If an elder loves money, he will subtly use the people and
work for his own ends (1 Timothy 3:3). Following his example, the people, too, will become
lovers of money.
(4) "If an elder is not just and devout, he will be unable to
rightly discern critical issues and problems (Titus 1:8), causing the people to become
unjust and disloyal to the truth.
(5) "If an elder is not sensible, balanced, and
self-controlled, his judgments will be characterized by disorganization, aimlessness, and
ugly extremes as will the judgments of the entire congregation (1 Timothy 3:1,2;
(6) "If an elder is not a faithful, one-woman husband, he will
ultimately encourage others to be unfaithful (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:6).
(7) "If an elder does not faithfully hold to the Word, the
people will not. Such an elder will be unable to guide the church through the fierce
storms of Satanic error (Titus 1:9)."
"What the churches of Jesus Christ need in the way of
leadership is men of deep inner spiritual and moral character. The best systems, laws, and
constitutions are impotent without men who are just, devout, lovers of what is good,
sensible, self-controlled, forbearing, free from the love of money, uncontentious, and
faithful keepers of God's Word. These are precisely the qualities that God requires of
those who lead His people."¹
In scripture, we will often see a common theme that is emphasized
again and again. Spiritual leaders are supposed to be primarily examples to the flock.
That is, the godly lifestyle of ministers, preachers, elders or pastors is critically
important as it is the visual sermon that people see and emulate with their lives. Paul
told Timothy, "...be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in
spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12).
Furthermore, the lifestyle of the preacher is what brings
credibility to his message. How can he hope for people to believe in a teaching that he
doesn't live for himself? Someone once said, "Your life speaks so loudly, I can't
hear what you're saying." It is ever so true that if we wish to influence lives for
Christ, we must continually practice what we preach. "The elders who are among you I
exhort... Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not... as
being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock" (1 Peter
¹ Biblical Eldership, Alexander Strauch
This article is copyrighted © by Dale A. Robbins, 1995, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA 95949. Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, © Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.You may download for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple permission form. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain published quantities of this title, .
If you liked this article, youll really love the whole book!