Earlier posts discussed the desire for this “fine work” and how to evaluate that desire. For the next several posts, I would like to discuss how we are to evaluate a man’s biblical qualifications in light of that desire. Many faithful, godly men throughout the ages who displayed Christ in their character and model sacrificial service to his church were not called to the work of pastor/elder. Paul writes to Timothy and gives a separate list of qualifications for the office of pastor/elder from all others, including deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13). This list demonstrates the unique calling and work that a pastor is set apart to do, and it also provides a way for others to evaluate externally and objectively a man claiming to possess the desire for this work. Paul’s list of qualifications for the office of the pastor can be summarized into five categories. For this post, let us consider the first and most critical qualification of “apt to teach.”
Able to Teach
This is the primary qualification that sets apart the work of a pastor from all others in the church. Paul writes that this man must be “apt or able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2). This qualification refers not just to a man’s desire to teach. Rather, the qualification is having the skill and ability to teach God’s word faithfully, accurately, and effectively. The reason for this qualification is confirmed by Paul elsewhere, where he states God has entrusted these uniquely called and gifted men to “guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure” of the gospel (2 Tim. 1:14).
This requirement is also in place because of the warning of “stricter judgment” for those who teach in the church (James 3:1). Yet, for those who have been gifted by God for this task, they are to do so humbly, clearly, passionately, and faithfully. The call is to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:2) whatever the cost, seize every opportunity to make the gospel clear, present the treasure and value of Christ before their hearers, call them to repent and believe, and then trust in the power of the Holy Spirit to perform the transforming work of the gospel. This ability to instruct God’s people with his word by “reproving, rebuking, and exhorting” (2 Tim. 4:2) is to define every man’s gospel ministry, both public and private. As Roger Ellsworth has rightly observed, “Fail here and you would have failed in your central task.”
The other four categories to come this week…