Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Pastoral Office

Titus 1:4-9 (ESV)
To Titus, my true child in a common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. [5] This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— [6] if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. [7] For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, [8] but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. [9] He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

There is a lot to unpack here. Paul lists the qualifications for a Pastor. The word pastor is not used, but the office of Elder, overseer (bishop), is what we call the pastoral office today. It is a divinely instituted office, and the person holding it is God’s steward, that is a steward of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1). The first qualification is that he be the husband of one wife, the Greek reads man of one woman. This bars the polygamist, and the womanizer simultaneously. Some would say that it means the man has to be married, but that would be problematic, in that Paul was not, being either a widower or a divorcee himself. (There are those who try to make the case that Paul was not a pastor, but an apostle, but Paul identifies himself as a steward of the mysteries of God, or as a steward of God. So that reasoning runs dry pretty quick.) The pastor is supposed to be above reproach. That does not mean he isn’t a sinner. But he is supposed to hold the following qualifications. Of course people will always try to discredit pastors for various reasons concerning morality. The pastor should be aware of this, and try to carry himself in a manner that is in keeping with that which Paul says here. I have never met a pastor or a person that has been able to keep themselves perfectly in regard to all these.
Arrogance is often the downfall of a pastor. It is easy to become arrogant, and to have one’s temper quickened a pastor should do all he can to hold this in check. It takes a deal of introspection. Neither should he be a drunkard. That isn’t the same as being a teetotaler. But getting drunk should not be his primary goal every day. An even temperament is the goal here. A reading of Ecclesiastes 3 in regard to these personality traits might be in order. If you are greedy for money, find another occupation, pastors tend not to be rich.
There is a qualification though that is all but ignored today. Some think that the Pastor should be morally upright and at the same time a theological milquetoast. That is not the case at all. Paul says the man must hold firm to the trust worthy word as taught, not only so that he may give instruction in sound doctrine, but also that he might rebuke those who contradict it. Most people don’t have a problem with a pastor sticking to the first part. It is when the Pastor decides to rebuke false doctrine and those who preach it that people have the problem. It is the “can’t we all get along” mentality that comes into play. However, the pastor is called to rebuke, which is a strong word. It is not enough just to preach sound doctrine, at times he is to also rebuke those who don’t. He has to be able to do that. That means he should have a theological education that allows him to see the problems with doctrinal positions that are not sound.

1 comment:

Brigitte said...

We are in such a bind with ourselves. "Who will redeem us..."

"I have often said that a man has no enemy deadlier than he himself; for my experience has taught me that I have greater cause for fear within me than I have outside me, because the gifts which we have within us tend to inflate our nature.

As God, who is by nature very kind, cannot but graciously shower down upon us various gifts, such as a healthy and sound body, riches, wisdom, skill, knowledge of Scripture, etc., so we cannot but become proud of these gifts and arrogant. Our life is wretched without such gifts of God, but it is doubly wretched when we have them. For we are made doubly worse by them. So great is the corruption of original sin, although all men except believers are either unaware of its existence or consider it a trivial matter."