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Biblical standards for those in pastoral ministry

All members of our Pastors' Network agree to abide by these biblical standards for pastoral ministry.

This can be downloaded as a PDF at the bottom of the article.

The Pastors’ Network seeks to uphold the standards for Christian ministry set out in Scripture and especially in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Those who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3v1), and must serve as those who will give an account of their life and work (Hebrews 13v17). The life of the pastor should be an example of the fullness and fruit of the Spirit (Acts 6v3 and Galatians 5v22-23).

His character and private life

1 Timothy 3v2-3, Titus 1v7
He should be calm and circumspect in all that he does (temperate), always fully in control of himself (self-controlled), disciplined and ordered in his life (respectable). He should not be addicted to alcohol (not given to drunkenness).

Titus 1v8, Acts 6v4
He should be upright, holy and disciplined, and a man of prayer. He should therefore be a man whose walk with God is evident to all and an example to all.

Acts 20v28, 1 Corinthians 4v16, Hebrews 13v7
As a Christian leader every area of his life and faith should be worthy of imitation.

Summary
A minister of the gospel should be an example in his personal life. In his character and personality he should be warm and gentle as well as courageous and firm. He should be a man fully in control of his emotions and not liable to outbursts of temper.

He should be noted for self-discipline in the use of his time, the enjoyment of his hobbies or interests, and in his spiritual devotion and the study of God’s Word. He should not be known for inappropriate or unhelpful habits, interests or addictions. His holiness of life and walk with God should be evident to all.

His public life

1 Timothy 3v2-3
He must be a man in whom the world can find nothing to censure, (above reproach), and blameless (Titus 1v6). He should not be a contentious or quarrelsome person, but gentle (not violent but gentle). He should not be known as a money-grabber (not a lover of money) and all his financial affairs should be seen to be conducted in the fullest integrity. He should not be self-pleasing (overbearing), or have a quick temper.

1 Timothy 3v7
The world should be able to witness well to his character (a good reputation) so that he will be neither mocked nor ensnared (disgrace and trap). As a manager of God’s household (entrusted with God’s work) he will be known by the company he keeps and the interests he has (Titus 1v8 loves what is good).

Summary
A minister of the gospel should be an example in his public life. He should be known as a peacemaker, with no bitterness or critical spirit that causes him to make enemies among the household of faith or in the world. He should be a man of financial integrity, living in moderation and not above his means. The world should speak well of him as a man, even if it ridicules his faith.

His family life

1 Timothy 3v2-5
He must be an example of loyalty, love and faithfulness to his wife (husband of one wife), and he should be known for his wisdom and purity in his relationships with other women, giving no cause for suspicion or accusation. He should use his home and possessions generously (hospitality) Titus 1v8. To demonstrate his suitability for church leadership he should manage his own home as a leader whose children obey him and give him due respect (1 Timothy 3v4-5). His children should be faithful (Titus 1v6 - the same word is used of the wife as ‘trustworthy’ in 1 Timothy 3v11) and they must not be wild and disobedient.

1 Timothy 3v11, Titus 2v3-5
These verses provide general principles for the life of a leader’s wife. She should be well respected, not a slanderous gossip (malicious talker), not an excessive drinker and should be reliable in all that she does (trustworthy in everything). She should be a model for self-control and purity and should be committed to the home and family.

Summary
A minister of the gospel should be an example in his family life. His love, loyalty and commitment to his wife and family should be evident to all. A divorce will, in most cases, preclude a man from the ministry. His home should be open for hospitality and he should be seen as having time for his wife and family. His wife, also, should be known for discretion, moderation, kindness and warm hospitality. She should avoid unhelpful comments and gossip.

A minister should be known for his sexual integrity in his relationships with men, women and children, without a hint of impropriety; he should not be known for flirting or for over-familiarity. Sexual immorality, including homosexual practice, will lead to disqualification from the ministry.

His church life

1 Timothy 3v2
He should be able to teach; his teaching should fearlessly encompass every section of the church. He must teach with authority, conviction and in dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1v5; Titus 2v1-10). He should train and equip others for ministry (Ephesians 4v12-13; 2 Timothy 2v2).

1 Timothy 3v5-6, 1 Peter 5v1-4
He must be sufficiently mature to be able to take care of the local church. For this reason and in order to lessen the danger of pride and arrogance (conceit) he should not be a recent convert. He must be a servant leader (not lording it).

Titus 1v9
He must be known as a man wholly committed to the Word of God, understanding sound doctrine so that he can effectively challenge and rebuke those who contradict the truth.

2 Corinthians 2v17
His single-minded sincerity in handling Scripture should be clear to all, and he should never be involved in his ministry with an eye to financial gain or personal promotion.

Summary
The members of the local church, both young and old, should be able to look to him as a model of Christian living. They should be able to respect him because he has a clear grasp of Christian doctrine, and is perceptive of error, wise in counsel, firm and fair in leadership, and Christ-like in his walk with God.

Conclusion

The question must be asked: are these things sufficiently in evidence in a man’s life to qualify him for the office of pastor? It is the task of the Pastors’ Network to uphold these standards amongst its members for the honour of Christ and the reputation of his Church.

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