It seems like every other week a notable megachurch pastor is either removed from his position or steps down due to burnout or the like. It reminds us that we live in a fallen world and that we must look to the chief-shepherd, Jesus Christ. With the incredible pressure placed on these men, not to mention the spiritual attacks they go through, what are some things that we as members, deacons, or those on a pastor search committee should discerningly and carefully consider? Though this list is not extensive, here are three things I believe we should look for in a pastor:
1. Qualified by the Word
Though it may be easy to notice a pastor’s preaching and personality, we must be reminded that all the charisma in the world is not sufficient for ministry qualification. Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus lay out some qualifications: above reproach; the husband of one wife; sober-minded; self-controlled; respectable; hospitable; able to teach; not a drunkard; not violent but gentle; not quarrelsome; not a lover of money; leads his family well; must not be a recent convert; must be well thought of by outsiders (1 Tim 3). These, above all else, are God’s standards for a pastor and should be the things we seek in our leaders. But not only should they be qualified by the Word, they must be trained by the Word.
2. Trained by the Word
When I broke a tooth in middle school I did not seek a football coach to help fix my tooth, I sought out a dentist. So we should similarly seek one with adequate training. Though I am an advocate of formal theological training (for a later post), I have seen many men gifted by God who know their Bible inside and out without having a theological education (Think Matt Chandler and Louie Giglio).
Paul says, again to Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). So we should seek men who know their Bible, stand on its inerrancy and infallibility and see the unfolding of God’s revelation culminating in Christ; his death, burial and resurrection. But we not only should look for men qualified by the Word and trained by the Word, thirdly and finally, we should look for men who are shaped by the Word.
3. Shaped by the Word
We could turn to many passages of Scripture, look at many men who were shaped by the Word, but one stands out above the rest. Jesus was shaped by the Word. As John says, He is the Word. In Jesus’ life, we see that He was shaped by the Word in that He has a shepherd’s heart, is a humble servant, and lives with a Biblical vision. We should look for men like that when we look for a pastor to lead.
By shape, I clearly don’t mean physique, nor does Scripture. When God chose Israel’s second king (David), Samuel thinks that he must have a stature worthy of a king, yet God’s man was little scrawny David. What was significant was David’s heart; a heart that was after God’s.
A pastor can be shaped by many things, but we must be more concerned with the state of their heart. Some questions to ask yourself might be, “Does he model humility like Jesus did? “Does he lead the church with a biblical God glorifying vision?” Does he serve the least of these?” And, ultimately, it all boils down to, “Does he remind me of Jesus?”
As church members who elect men to this high calling, we must, along the way, understand that Jesus is perfect, but our pastor will not be. Though we look for these qualities we do not berate these men when they fall short. We should be fostering a community that shows grace, honor and Godly accountability and encouragement for our pastors.
Have you prayed for or thanked your pastor today?