Monday, June 6, 2016

Quick to Disqualify

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (I Timothy 3:1-7 [ESV]

These are familiar passages, Paul writing to Timothy and telling him guidelines for who should be a pastor. I have served in, around and among churches who have used these verses to various degrees. One thing I have found disturbing is those who seek diligently to disqualify those who are called to serve. I want to share with you what I think Paul meant and how we use and abuse these verses.

In the church, men who feel called to being a pastor should have a certain character. They should be good guys, love people and behave well. Paul lays out some good guidelines, Pastors should be examples of good Christian men. We have taken the verses in the modern church and turned them into a litmus test. We scrutinize every area of life that we want too, ignore others. We have scores or rude and pride filled pastors who have never been divorced, so they are fine. Pastors that ignore their families, but he has a doctorate and a radio ministry. Lead pastors who devour staff, but are "respectable" because those with money and power get what they want.

In many churches today, Paul himself would be disqualified because of his past. In other churches, they would cut Judas down, give him cpr and put him in the pulpit. We have lost our minds. We disqualify a man who was divorced 35 years ago because his wife left him for another man, then hire a tyrant.

Here is a newsflash. If you applied the letter of this passage across the board, no man could serve. No one is above reproach, each pastor has areas of shortcomings. All have lusted, lied, hated, been prideful and arrogant and rude. Some hide it better than others. Instead of creating a legalistic program of hiring pastors, ranking sins and mistakes and looking to disqualify, use some sense. Find a Paul, a Peter or a John instead of overlooking them in scrutiny.

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