Pastoral Qualifications

Only men may hold this office (1 Tim. 2:11; 1 Tim. 3:6), but not every man is qualified to do so. Such a man must meet biblical qualifications, which Paul lists on two occasions, prescribed in parallel fashion for bishops (1 Tim. 3:1-7) and elders (Tit. 1:6-9), which are the same office.

Exemplary Character

Such a man must be exemplary in his reputation, a one-woman man, sensible, self-controlled, respectable in his behavior, hospitable, able to teach, not influenced by intoxicating substances, not violent, gentle, uncontentious, free from the desire to be rich, not a fighter, honest in his work ethic, a good manager of his household affairs, one who’s children obey and respect him, a mature Christian, one who has a good reputation outside the church, able to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who teach wrong doctrine, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, a man who appreciates good things, follows justice, practices holiness, and is loyal to the Word of God.

A Strong Inner Desire

In addition to these extensive character qualifications, this man must also exhibit a distinct call to this role. This call consists of a strong inner desire for the work (1 Tim. 3:1), which is verified outwardly by recognition from other pastors and the general congregation of a church (1 Tim. 4:14). They should agree that he meets the necessary qualifications and give witness to his effectiveness in such a capacity. A man is unqualified to be a pastor without this inner desire, even if he meets other qualifications. Furthermore, he is unqualified if his desire is driven by wrong motives, such as: 1) to satisfy a sense of obligation to external pressure, 2) to accumulate wealth, or 3) to satisfy a personal fascination with being in charge over people (1 Pet. 5:2-3).

Able to Teach

Of all the qualifications for being a pastor, one distinguishing prerequisite stands out. A pastor must be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 2:24; 3:2). In fact, Paul attaches the teaching role to the pastoring role so closely that it may be called the role of a “pastor-teacher” (Eph. 4:11). Regarding this requirement, it is important to ask whether this requires eloquent speaking skills. Must all pastors be adept pulpiteers? Certainly, every pastor must be able to “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2), but not every pastor will be a silver-tongued Apollos (Acts 18:24). Some pastors may be gifted as large-group teachers, while others may be better suited for small group and one-on-one teaching scenarios. Whatever the case, any pastor should be able to lead a church if called upon to do so, and he must be able and properly trained to teach sound doctrine effectively.