When you’re reading through the Bible on some organized plan or simply to delight in the words of the living God, you will often hit a passage and think, ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’ You believe texts like 2 Timothy 3:16, but you’re not sure how to be trained in righteousness from the passage. Other times, the passage seems to apply more directly to someone else. You know why it’s there but not sure what to do with it.
This came up this past Sunday as I’m preaching through Titus. Specifically, what should the everyday Christian do with passages like Tit 1:5-9 and 1 Tim 3:1-7, which list the qualifications for elders (pastors)? Is this only for pastors and search committees? Here are three ways to read and profit from these passages.
1. See this as a standard for your elders
Paul explains what elders are to look like and what they are to do. As you read through these verses, understand that this is something more than just a reference point for a search committee. These are meant to be on-going qualifications, not just an entrance exam. That means two things for you sitting here as members of this church. First, you must hold the elders to these standards. If you see them flagging in our example of these things, you call us on it.
2. See this as a prayer list for your elders
Knowing this is an on-going standard, you should pray for your elders with this passage in mind. I’m guessing that they will take all the prayer they can get for themselves. But do not pray the “just be with him” kind of prayer. Read over these passages and pray for these things. This is God’s will for their life. This is what he expects at the beginning, the middle, and the end of their life and ministry. And he expects that they will be ever-increasing in these things. So pray for them. Pray that they remain faithful. Pray that they grow in godliness. Pray that they persevere as men of God until God himself returns.
3. See this as a goal for your own life
When you look at those character qualifications, they become surprising for how unsurprising they are. What we see in the character of an elder is this simple fact—he is to be, at the very least, a Christian man. Every one of these character qualities are elsewhere said to be for all of God’s people. Thus, there is a sense in which the pastor is not meant to be a “cut of above the rest,” superior in all he does, as much as he as is meant to be an example of one who loves and follows Christ. What sets him apart from everyone else though, is his ministry as a teacher of God’s word. This means that those godly virtues are goals for the life of every believer. Look to Christ–the embodiment of those things–and pursue such a life of godliness.