How Do You Evaluate a Pastor?

I just want to boil it down to two categories: godliness and giftedness.

Before going into what the Bible says about these categories, I want to acknowledge that there are a number of “common grace” preferences that we may come to appreciate about various pastors. Some men may have an extra dose of a particular category. Certainly, you can think of one who exudes more warmth. Perhaps you can think of others who are better communicators. Others may excel in their intuitiveness. Let’s be honest, there are some who are frankly off-the-charts intelligent. Others drip creativity when they are preaching like Bob Ross with a paintbrush. The list could go on and on.

 

I recently read an interesting comment by a seminary president about the ministry. He said that the hardest thing about being a pastor today is the confusion about what it means to be a pastor.

If this is true, and I wouldn’t rush to argue with him, think about how unsettling and unacceptable this is. The ministry is one of the most important jobs on the planet. Yet confusion abounds.

Think about who this affects.

It affects the pastor. He’s often left feeling confused, pressured, and ill-equipped to do his job. Melting under the unrelenting heat of fluid and often undefined expectations, he retreats to discouragement.

It also affects the congregation. To use the preaching illustration, if there is a mist in the pulpit there is a fog in the pew. In other words, if the pastor is confused, then you better believe the congregation is not synced up.

Finally, there is confusion among the unbelieving world. Left to the impressions of whoever they happen to know or happen to see a video of or a meme of a pastor on a private jet; they are also unclear.

This is why I just want to boil it down to two categories: godliness and giftedness. Is the brother godly, and does he faithfully handle God’s Word?

Before going into what the Bible says about these categories, I want to acknowledge that there are a number of “common grace” preferences that we may come to appreciate about various pastors. Some men may have an extra dose of a particular category. Certainly, you can think of one who exudes more warmth. Perhaps you can think of others who are better communicators. Others may excel in their intuitiveness. Let’s be honest, there are some who are frankly off-the-charts intelligent. Others drip creativity when they are preaching like Bob Ross with a paintbrush. The list could go on and on.

But let’s be clear, these are common-grace gifts that we should rejoice in, but they are not essentials for the office of pastor. Praise God that the qualification for being a pastor does not mean men have to be as smart as D. A. Carson or passionate as John Piper. But, mark it, all have to square up with the biblical qualifications.

Let’s go through these.

A Pastor Must Be Godly

A list of qualifications for the pastor is found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7:

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be 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. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1–7)

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