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You Call Me

December 20, 2006

We’re called to salvation.  We receive Christ, having counted the cost.  We volunteer for some realm of service in and through the church.  We desire the office of the bishop.  We’re not called to pastor; we desire it.  “But isn’ that just a matter of terminology?”  Of course, but we base our doctrine on terms.  “Desire” and “call” are different.  When a man talks of a call, it should be ignored unless we see a desire.  Desire is what we’re looking for.  It’s what the Bible says to look for (1 Timothy 3:1).

When a man desires the office, others will know it.  They are the ones responsible to make sure that the desire is legitimate.  Who are they?

1 Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

The Presbytery.  Who are they?  Older, Godly men.  Elders, which would for sure include any other pastors.  The word is presbuterion. The word is used only three times in the New Testament and only once like it is here in 1 Timothy. Related words and usage demonstrate that they are older, established, Godly men who bear witness of the adequate existence of the qualifications for a bishop in a man, rendering him fit for the office.  Many of the qualities have to do with character.  Some hint toward some observed ability.  I will expand on a few.

Not a Novice

HALOT says a novice is a new Christian.  The novice hasn’t proven himself in the ministry. There’s not enough of a resume to know whether the desire is there or not. He hasn’t displayed the qualifications long enough to make a decision on him.  Another potential complication that the text mentions is pride.  Axiomatically, 1 Timothy 5:22 says:  “Lay hands suddenly on no man.  As a rule, someone should be seasoned first.

What does seasoning look like  It should look like what a pastor is supposed to do.  A man should have already been involved in the work of the ministry.  Why?  That is what Ephesians 4:11-12 says the job of the pastor is–“to perfect the saints for the work of the ministry.”  I would hope that he understands the ministry first.  I often say in our church that the ministry in a technical sense is “making disciples.”  That’s what I conclude from what Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20 among other places.  Is this young man involved in making disciples?  Does he do the work of the evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5); does he love preaching the gospel to every creature?  You can’t perfect others if you are not doing it yourself first.  A man with the desire should hunger to reproduce himself through bold evangelism and persistent instruction of the new saint.

Sadly, most churches today don’t even know what the ministry is. Young men cannot grow up in those churches with even a rudimentary understanding of it.  Many learn that some program organized in the church is ministry–youth, seniors, school, children, music, ushers, clean-up, decoration, etc.  At most, these young men learn how to run to McDonald’s for the orange kool-aid, air up a big ball, give an object lesson, and sing a special number.  They have never made a disciple.  They wouldn’t even know where to start.  Even in a sense of Scriptural, corporate ministry, they do not regularly provoke anyone to love or good works (Hebrews 10:24, 25), warn the unruly (1 Thessalinians 5:14), or restore one who is overtaken in a fault (Galatians 6:1)  Every one of these are the duty of the rank-and-file church member, let alone someone who will lead them.  If a young man is not to be a novice in the ministry, he’d better know what it is.

Sober, Temperate

Someone sober is restrained in his conduct, stable, and level-headed.  The temperate is self-controlled. A young man should have a disciplined life who says he has that desire.  He needs to finish things on time, not procrastinate, and be someone who can be counted on to get a job done.  He must show some tenacity.  You have to be able to take him seriously.  He can’t be so silly that you don’t know when he’s being for real.  He can’t become easily distracted from finishing a task.  He should be someone you wouldn’t at all mind hiring as an employee because you know he will do a good job.

Apt to Teach

The pastor must be a master teacher.  This man will show his desire by developing the skills and acquiring the knowledge necessary to teach.  He must have a solid handle on his doctrine, know his way well around the Word, and understand how to rightly divide it.  He must have the ability to break down a passage and explain what it means and how it applies to someone’s life.  The one who rightly divides the Word of Truth is a workman.  The man apt to teach wants to teach as well as He can.  He will be willing to get whatever tools in his life that will take.

Lover of Good Men

Does he hang around the right type of people?  Does he like being with Godly, disciplined men who will challenge him?  Is he only a user of men? Someone ready to pastor will pick high quality friends.  He won’t look for people that make him feel good or with which he can just have a good time.  He won’t shy away from those who have a convicting and holy presence.  He loves solid, good men, even if they don’t have his type of personality, loves them for their character and holy work for God.

It's for you!A man will strive for these and other qualities (the lists are in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1) if he desires the office of a bishop.  You won’t have to call him to develop these traits; he’ll call you.  Whatever gauntlet you want to run him through to get them, he will be ready.  He isn’t striving for a temporal crown, but an eternal one, which he knows works a far greater, eternal weight of glory.

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Categories: Brandenburg, The Ministry
  1. joe
    December 20, 2006 at 11:05 am

    Your post is excellent

    I have been a part of one and witnessed another ‘ordination’ as you describe. The aged friends of the senior pastor come and put their rubber stamp on the man because the pastor endorses them. In both cases, the man seeking ordination couldn’t answer the most basic of questions and was visibly shaken and disturbed.(talk about not being able to run the gauntlet)
    But they both were ordained anyway. One was the preacher’s son. Preachers whether willingly or not, ‘partake in other men’s sins’ because they are leaving after the ordination back to their church and don’t have to deal with the fallout of these preacher boys defiling the ministry.

    Don’t you think a more accurate approach biblically and dare we even say the word, pragmatic approach would be to have the elders of the church who know the man and his testimony of life recognize before God that this man is called?

    But we don’t really have elders in our churches do we? We have one bishop and I would contend fail to recognize the biblical teachings of a plurality of elders in the local church. I see this as a/the problem.

  2. December 20, 2006 at 8:39 pm

    It could not possibly be stated any better or clearer than that. Excellent self-examination points. I was challenged by it. I wonder how many of our Pastoral Ministries graduates are even thinking about any of these things. It does not even seem to cross the mind or come up in conversation any more. Now it is that you have your B.A., and maybe even M.Div. (which would really make you qualified), that you have served as a youth pastor for 2 years, and are now ready to take a church of your own. Meanwhile, the 1 Tim. 3 qualities are nowhere to be found–a sure recipe for disaster.

  3. December 20, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    Joe, I’ll nibble at your bait… First, what would be the difference between a Senior Pastor with Assistant/Associate Pastors and a Plurality of Elders? I have noticed that those who use the “Pastor” model are not nearly as critical of the “Elder” promoters as the “Elder” promoters are critical of the “Pastor” model. What gives with that? Are we missing something?

    Also, what if a church is not large enough to have a plurality of elders? What would they do about ordinations?

  4. joe
    December 21, 2006 at 12:25 pm

    I think it makes perfect sense to have Assist./ Assoc. pastors with a job description etc. I would call that a plurality of elders.
    I am not being critical of the pastor model. I currently am the only pastor/elder/bishop of our church. But I pray the Lord of the harvest would raise up more. If He does, I would view the men as equals not as employees of mine.

    I struggle with the answer to your question Dave. I currently have not been ordained but desire to be. I have thought about simply having our church ordain me as I believe the local church recognizes whether or not God has given men the ministry gifts.

    But with the current make-up of our congregation I don’t think they are to the point where they would understand what is being done- (mostly senior citizen women) The explanation of the post here being a good critique of how many churches/pastors miss the boat.
    I appreciate your opinion- didn’t mean to come off sounding critical, it is hard to express attitude in the written word sometimes.

  5. joe
    December 21, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    I hope this isn’t off topic, but have any of you read Alexander Strauch’s book on Biblical Eldership?

    I would be interested in your evaluation of his position.

  6. December 22, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    Joe, I haven’t read the book. Tell us how to get to it, and maybe one of us can get to it. Also, I appreciate what you’ve said here, and especially your desire to see your local church recognize. I think that your struggle was what I had in mind when I said what I did.

    Ordinations have been a question mark for me for some time. If you invite your “pastor friends” to come ordain you, well, I’m sure we can all see the problem with that. If you ask your people to ordain you though, isn’t that like asking for a vote of confidence? And couldn’t you run into the same conflict of interests?

    My suggestion would be that you go to men you respect or men who know you better than most, men you trust to place principle above preference, and ask them to examine you and if they see fit, to ordain you.

    And may God bless you as you do!

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