The verb “aspires” (oregō) is used elsewhere to speak negatively of a false teacher’s “craving” for money (1 Tim 6:10) and positively of the faithful’s “desire” for a heavenly city (Heb 11:16). In both instances, there is an aspiration for something that drives the whole of one’s life, for better or worse. To aspire to the office of overseer is certainly something for the better and similarly drives the whole of the pastor’s life.
What does it mean to desire to be a pastor?
Granted, this desire is only properly present and fulfilled when joined to a giftedness to teach and administrate, a godly character, and the confirmation of the church in ordaining such a man (cf. 1 Tim 3:2–7). Without these qualifications, one’s desire should actually be for another to pastor in his stead.
Those things aside, however, what is the nature of the desire to be a pastor?
1 Timothy 3:1 helps us to answer that question: “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (ESV).
Using this verse and other passages to shed light upon its meaning, we find some helpful thoughts from the NT about the desire to be a pastor.
It is a gospel desire.
To begin, we see something of the greatness of the desire in the greatness of what is involved—preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We find something of the greatness of the pastor’s desire merely by how Paul introduces his saying: “The saying is trustworthy.” Paul otherwise exclusively uses this phrase to introduce or look back at a memorable statement about the gospel (1 Tim 1:15; 4:9–10; 2 Tim 2:11–13; Titus 3:4–8). Why would Paul use this phrase, then, to introduce something about an overseer? It seems that the function of teaching and preaching the gospel is so intimately tied to the office of overseer that Paul can easily introduce one or the other in the same way. By using this introduction, what is said in Paul’s statement has a ring of the greatness of the gospel.