The Kind of Man Pastors Must Be

Every pastor must not be an arrogant man (Titus 1:7), but a humble one—a man who hears all these qualifications and says, “Who is sufficient for these things” (2 Cor. 2:16)? And then, instead of looking down in despair, he looks up and clings even more tightly to Christ, remembering that Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) but “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).

Every semester, no matter the class, I intentionally try to touch upon the kind of men that pastors must be. Admittedly, this is a very broad topic. If I had the time, I could focus an entire class on a single facet of the pastoral office and what it requires.

For example, a pastor must be a truly redeemed man. In 1 Timothy 3:6, the apostle Paul says that a pastor must not be a recent convert, which assumes that he is, in fact, a convert. This may seem obvious, but it’s mighty hard to lead anyone to Someone you haven’t actually met. This is not a new problem. Hundreds of years ago, the Puritan Richard Baxter said, “Take heed to yourselves, lest you should be void of that saving grace of God which you offer to others, and be strangers to the effectual workings of that Gospel which you preach; and lest while you proclaim the necessity of a Saviour to the world, your own hearts should neglect him, and you should miss of an interest in him and his saving benefits! Take heed to yourselves, lest you perish, while you call upon others to take heed of perishing!”1

Every pastor must also be a godly man. It is no accident that the qualifications for pastors in 1 Timothy 3 and 1 Peter 5 and Titus 1 focus not exclusively but primarily on the character of the pastor. As the 19th Century Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne is reported to have rightly said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.”

Likewise, every pastor must be a zealous man, not unlike our Lord himself, who was consumed with zeal for the glory of God (John 2:13–17). This takes the form of pastors who desire nothing but Christ and hate nothing but sin. John Wesley once said that he could change the world if he had a hundred men like that.

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