Candidly present pastoral qualification
I Timothy 3:1-7 “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
I am aware, that this is not the only passage in the New Testament that outlines pastoral qualification; however it is the primary passage. The aspiration to be a bishop, elder, or pastor (being one in the same) is a high and noble desire. This aspiration is no half-hearted desire. The same word is used to describe Abraham and Sarah in Hebrews 11:16 who “longed” for that “heavenly country, whose builder and maker is God”. It is also the same word used in I Timothy 6:1 when Paul describes those who love or lust after money, and departed from the faith, because they “coveted after it.” The word means to “grasp for,” which paints a powerful picture when considered in light of these two passages. This desire, though noble and often intense is not enough in itself to equate “calling.” It is simply one among many other marks of spiritual and practical qualification. This desire is not always pure and noble; therefore it must be evaluated in light of the rest of these passages. Any young man, who desires the office, must to be encouraged not by his willingness to commit or surrender himself to the ministry, but by his understanding of the high qualifications set before him, and by others in his local assembly recognizing that he is indeed Biblically qualified. A pastor ought to begin personally mentoring the preacher boy, by exposing from the text the Biblical qualifications demanded by God for this office as well as the churches responsibility to recognize that indeed these marks are evident in his life.
I have observed that young men desiring to go into ministry are not always handled this way. Often youth leaders at camps, retreats, or mission’s conferences make high pressure emotional appeals to those under their care. The result is many decisions, but a low success rate of men actually following through in their commitments. I wonder how many young men in my preacher boy class in Bible College “surrendered to ministry” under these kinds of conditions, yet have “fallen away” to perhaps what is the high calling of their faithfulness in the secular professions God has directed them into and faithfulness in their local churches. Every Christian young person ought to desire to go into “full time Christian service,” yet not every spiritually minded believer is Biblically qualified for that office. Surrendering to do the will of God, according to Romans 12:1-2, does not mean the office of the pastor for many, yet they may feel that it does in their youth. Time will tell these things. I want to encourage anyone working with young people to be as cautious as possible when dealing with them in these circumstances. God will move in the hearts of people who are surrendered to Him whether we make emotional appeals or not. God’s primary working in my life in directing me into the ministry, had very little to do with one moving message. It was a long process of walking with God that allowed the Lord to work uniquely in my heart.
I also encourage you not to overemphasize one qualification above another. Often we focus heavily upon marital status or purity, yet we ignore aptitude to teach. We emphasize one’s relationship to alcohol, yet we ignore the way he raises his family and relates with his wife. Sometimes we ignore the fact that the young man is not to be a novice or that he is not to be a fighter or covetous. Often we ignore the way that he is viewed by the lost in the community in which he lives. Each qualification whether spiritual character, practical living, or spiritual giftedness, must be properly evaluated so that nothing sticks to his reputation before the church and before the lost. Pastors have a responsibility to begin mentoring a preacher boy by exposing from the text the qualifications that God demands of this office. In I Timothy 5:21-25 Paul says, Timothy, “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure…Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” Pastors, you must lay before young men not only their responsibility, but yours as well. This is a sobering responsibility for the local church and its leadership. Let us be faithful in laying it before our people and our preacher boys.