Here is the text:
3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
Shepherds take care of, tend to, nurture, protect, guard, provide and guide sheep. That is why they are called shepherds. I will be candid here. Much of what goes over as pastoring isn’t what the bible defines as pastoring. First lets make one thing clear. Pastoring is a “gift of the Holy Spirit”. It isn’t something you learn in school, it isn’t something you read in a book, it isn’t something you are “promoted” to by others. As Paul says in Ephesians “When He ascended He led a host of captives free AND gave gifts unto men”. If you drop down a few more verses in Ephesians 4 you will see some of those gifts highlighted one being “pastor” (among many) which is given by the Spirit.
With that said, what I see today isn’t pastoring. If it is then pulpits, conferences, pews and buildings are sheep. Since the bible never calls them sheep then what goes over today as pastoring really ain’t pastoring. Don’t believe see if you can find what is perpetuated as pastoring today in the scriptures. Many pastors spend more time with their bibles than they do sheep. As Alan says ”when the bible talks about teaching it means much more than articulating doctrinal truth”. Here is a quote:
So, first, sharing these stories is a method of teaching – a method that is sorely lacking in many churches today. We have replaced this holistic method of teaching and discipleship with a method that relies almost solely on words. In fact, many future leaders are taught not to get too close to the people they teach, making it impossible for them to teach with their conduct.
It is funny that man who can articulate truth better than others get a pass on pastoring and the real pastoring is passed on to other man. False dichotomies are erected to defend such a position such as: Teaching Pastor, Singles Pastor, Discipleship Pastor……. . We more Reformed folks love to point our doctrinal error but for some glaring reason we ignore these erroneous dichotomies in the name of receiving good “biblical preaching”.
So on to the title. What will follow will be brief but I think important for us to consider. Lets start off by Paul’s charge to Timothy. Paul says “ anyone who desires”. So the first qualification is a desire. I won’t get into much there. Then Paul goes into some qualifications for those who desire. Whats funny is the only way for someone to be meet those qualifications is if they are ALREADY walking in them. So the guy must BE a good teacher, a good husband, a good father…. hospitable.
These aren’t things that they should do once they become and Elder but things they should be doing for being considered an elder. Let me rewind a bit. What made David a good leader for Israel is that He was already faithful at tending to sheep! He was found faithful at shepherding so it was just the overflow of this which made him a great king for Israel. I think one of the problems is that most pastors are transplanted from school (they have good theory). The other problem is the false dichotomy of elders/pastors. These functions in the local body go hand in hand but I will stop there with that argument.
So why hospitable? Great question. One of the primary functions of an elder is to provide oversight, guidance and direction by teaching. The problem is today teaching is synonymous with discipleship clasess and preaching, instead of examples by living! You see a once a week discipleship class for a 1.5 hours or a man’s book club or a 1 hour sermon suffices for what the bible calls teaching. The problem is the bible never says that, our pragmatic practices force us to interpret “teaching” that way.
You see being hospitable could be defined simply as “open lives and open homes”. You see teaching me to be a good husband by giving me “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” or teaching me how to be a good husband by giving me “An Exemplary Husband” or teaching me how to be a good teenager by giving me “Do Hard Things” or taking a woman through a “Titus 2″ class has provided a smokescreen that allows other to sneak out of their responsibility. When Paul says “Older women teach younger women”. This isn’t a weekly class but a daily peek into my life by being hospitable. “Older men teach younger men” isn’t a weekly/bi-weekly discipleship class. It is an open life and an open home in where I SEE YOU live these things out. Thus teaching in both WORD and DEED are inseparable in the scriptures!
Allowing people to text message you, send you an email, or allowing people a one hour a month “appointment” is insufficient my friends! As a faithful church goer and tithe payer (it is funny how jokers can tell you how to be a faithful servant but aren’t faithful to their call) you should demand more! Discipleship is always life on life! As Lecrae says “after the music stops what’s next”. I ask “after the preaching and church stuff stops what’s next”.
If you feel God has call you to pastor, then start pastoring! Not by lording over and building nice expository sermons, but by being hospitable, so I can see you live it out. So I can see how you handle conflict as a mature believer, so I can see you managing your household well, so I can see how your neighbors speak highly of how you serve them, so I can see your reputation with outsiders, so I can see your example!
If you are too busy writing books (or trying to get your book published) then stop pastoring. If you are too busy going to and speaking at different conferences then stop pastoring, if you are too busy to take care of sheep, please, pretty please, stop calling yourself a pastor! Why? Because there a bunch of minnie me’s in seminary following your lead and they too will only perpetuate what they see, because you are all over Itunes, all over the book store and all over the blogsphere. We need shepherdly pastors, ones who by being hospitable are an example to the flock (that is what Peter says right?). We don’t need more professionalized men, who spend their time isolated from the ones they are called to provide oversight to!