Imagine how you might describe a real man. What comes to your mind? How about the cover of Outdoorsman magazine or a picture of a bodybuilder? Or, do you envision him in flannel with tight genes, swinging in an ax and combing his long beard? Does he chew tobacco or leather? Does he sleep by a campfire with a rifle across his chest? Does he drink beer, smoke cigars, wear expensive suits, and attend clubs that only men are invited to?
We all have an ideal man to fancy. When I was young, the real man was described by terms like “rugged” and “muscular.” In recent times, however, the words “inconsequential” and “chauvinistic” have been popular. In the politicized parts of our society, it is common to hear words like “destructive, ominous, violent, and hedonistic.”
Sadly, these words are common terms today that the world uses quite regularly. Chris Field, the managing editor of TheBlaze magazine, wrote:
“Progressives tell us that men are destructive rulers in the world, low-intelligence Neanderthals and oppressors of women. Thanks to modern science, men are not even essential for procreation. In a culture where women are encouraged to be empowered and independent in the workplace and at home, men are left searching for their place in society and boys don’t know where to turn, which can lead to devastating effects.”Christ Field, Managing Editor of TheBlaze Magazine
It’s safe to say that our world is in desperate need of redefining the real man. And despite what some people say, he is not the “wild-at-heart” guy. He isn’t defined by his guns, fishing rods, or motor vehicles. The above terms are inappropriate and unfitting. For God has His own set of terms to describe the real man. They are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7.
The Qualifications of a Pastor
This short letter contains the apostle Paul’s personal instruction to Timothy who was currently directing ship in Ephesus. In the first chapter, Paul warns Timothy about men of the city. They are antithetical to the real, godly men. He says that they are believing and teaching false doctrines (1 Tim. 1:3), devoting themselves to endless conspiracies (1 Tim. 1:4), and leading others away from the faith (1 Tim. 1:5). And, he wasn’t finished yet.
It was like Paul had to reload. But, instead of putting in another clip, he grabbed his multi-firing machine gun and fired off rapid descriptions of these men. He described them as lawless, disobedient, ungodly, unholy, profane, violent, murderous, sexually immoral, lying, slandering, and living contrary to the gospel, to say the least (1 Tim. 9-10).
Then, to contrast these men, he urged Timothy to stand firm in Christ, to be a real man and hold fast to God (1:12-20). He was to be an example of the real man in order to provide the men a different model. Finally, Paul calls Timothy to pray and take the lead for the sake of Christ (1 Tim. 2), and to put some real men into pastoral positions. This is where 1 Timothy 3:1-7 is introduced. It is a list of qualifications for those who aspire to be candidates for pastoral ministry.
“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
The Qualities of a Man
In the following articles, we will explore three reasons why the qualifications of a pastor are the qualities of a man. For now, let’s consider a few introductory ideas. The list begins with a truth statement which is prefaced with a Pauline idiom, “the saying is trustworthy” (1 Tim. 3:1). Paul uses this phrase a handful of times in his letters, each time indicating a truth that is obvious and important.
Earlier in this letter, Paul used this phrase to remind Timothy that Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:12-17). Later, he uses it to reinforce the truth that “godliness has value for all things” in this life and the life after (1 Tim. 4:8-10). In his second letter to Timothy, he employs this phrase again to recite a commonly known poem, with an appended stanza that highlights the faithfulness of God (2 Tim. 2:11-13). Finally, in his letter to Titus, Paul professes the message of the gospel as the means to godliness in this life (Tit. 3:1-8). In each case, the phrase is used to highlight an obvious and important truth:
Based on 1 Timothy 3:1, we can take this a step further to say that Christ makes godly men to influence others for gospel advancement. This too is implied in each of the cases mentioned above. God wants to advance His kingdom on the earth, and He does so by saving sinners and transforming them into godly people who lead others to Christ. The transformational work happens within the local church where the leaders instruct and model godliness to the congregation. This is why candidates for church leadership must be qualified as godly men.
With this in mind, we can now look at three reasons why the qualifications for pastors are the qualities for men, which should encourage you to prayerfully and intentionally consider these characteristics as obvious and important. Godliness is necessary, normative, and noble.