How should Christian leaders behave and think? The pastoral epistles give lists that are foundational for the qualifications many churches places upon pastors. If we were to answer the question and summarize these qualifications in one word, it would be “blameless.” In fact, blameless is the first quality noted for bishops in Titus and First Timothy.
“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”
Recently, I had the honor to conduct the ordination service of my denomination. Ordination is a beautiful thing. It is recognition by the Church that God has placed a called to ministry and charges them with the authority and responsibility to carry out that calling. Paul’s word’s to Titus, remind us that while pastors are people just like us, they have a major call upon their life, unlike any other calling out there.
Pastors, elders, bishops
The Bible uses these words interchangeably. Though they describe the same office in the church, they do contain various nuances.
Pastor – this word comes from both the Hebrew and the Greek. It speaks to the shepherding qualities of the pastor.
Elder – this word is sometimes translated as a presbyter. It notes that someone that presides over a community.
Bishop – this word is the basis for Episcopal. It is closely related to “Elder” as it focuses on the person who cares for a community or group.
Many of the qualification for the minister deal with being in the public eye. A daunting task for leaders is that they are constantly under scrutiny and are always being observed. Even more, the scripture points out in 1 Timothy that the family of the leader is watched as well. Regardless, being blameless is still the summary of the requirements here. Why should we be blameless? As pastors, we lead by example and that requires a high degree of faithfulness to God’s call.
How does one remain blameless and what are are they blameless from? To not have someone call foul on you is hard, especially when we live in a society where good is called evil and evil is called good (Isaiah 5:20). First, we are to be blameless before God. Second, we are to be blameless before men at being blameless before God. We are to seek God in all things. That takes care of the first. In the second, when we are before men, we should seek to use wisdom and behave in a God-pleasing manner, always. If we are accused of anything as ministers, let us be charged with something that shows we are serving God faithfully.