The Pastor’s Home: A Prerequisite For Service-pt.1

A man cannot enter war without first being trained. We would not allow a doctor to perform surgery without extensive experience and training. We would not want a man to lead our nation who is not fully capable to do so. However, for most, the thought of having a pastor without adequate training, equipping, and qualification is okay. Some see training in preparation for ministry as negligible and nonessential. Some even deride those who pursue training in preparation for pastoral ministry saying that they are not filled with the Spirit (insinuating that they are). In the day of the pride of ignorance, many consider learning and exerting mental discipline almost a waste of time. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a person praise his pastor because he doesn’t prepare for his sermons. He simply gets up and lets the spirit speak through him. They say this to me with a very proud grin full of adoration for such a display of godliness. However, in my mind, I know that that man ought to be ashamed of himself. The Apostle Paul wrote,

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

It is a shameful thing to enter into anything unprepared. It is not unlike the proverb that says, “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool displays folly” (Proverbs 13:16). That is to say, the prudent man learns how to do that for which he is accountable. The fool does not and simply displays to everyone what little he knows.

An often overlooked (and undervalued) side of preparation for ministry is a man’s home. By “home” I think the Scripture primarily means the people who are under his care, and then, secondarily, the house in which they live. His home is the determining factor in his qualification for ministry. Why do I say that? As we will see in 1 Timothy 3, it is the place where the reality of his righteousness is displayed, and verified. It is easy for a man to “flip the switch” in public and act as if everything is fine at home, when in fact it is not. We fear the public disgrace of looking like we do not have control. But, it is altogether different when no one is looking. It is altogether different in the day-in and day-out realities of raising children and our relationship with our wives. Men in general have to learn how to faithfully lead his home. Unfortunately, some men never realize that. They often go from one distraction to another until the children are gone and then wipe their brow and think to themselves, “Whew, I am glad they are gone.” At that point, typically, they rationalize to themselves that the decisions their children make in the lives as they are on their own are not the parent’s responsibility. However, that is not true. The lives our children live in their own marriages and in their own homes demonstrate the capability of our leadership in the home. Or, to say it another way, the fruit of godly leadership in the home does not bear itself out until our children are no longer under our care. We may be able to suppress the rebellion of our children while they are in the home, and get by. But, the real question is, “What do our children do when they are one their own? What decisions do they make? Where is their heart?”

To begin this series, we need to establish the fact that raising children in a godly manner is crucial, necessary, for the qualification of a man to ministry. However, the condition of our home is only the fruit of the man’s leadership, not the definition of it. The sanctification of his wife, the godliness (not worldliness) of his children, his own level of holiness (especially when no one else is looking) all demonstrate the Lord’s qualification of that man.

A New Covenant ministry is unlike anything else that has gone before. One day, Jesus was speaking with the people and some disciples of John came to Jesus and asked Him if He truly was the Messiah (Luke 7:18-23). Jesus gave them instructions as to the proof of His ministry, as outlined in Isaiah 35 and 61. The messengers went back to John. Jesus took the opportunity to commend John before the people (vv.24-30). He spoke of John as the greatest of the prophets (v.28). He was the messenger in the vein of Malachi 3:1 (v.27). However, the Pharisees rejected John’s baptism of repentance and thus demonstrated that they were not interested in God’s purpose for them.

The Lord then gives a parable, that is apropos to us at this point. There were children in the marketplace and one group was calling out to the rest of the children. The first group of children played a flute, but the rest did not dance. They then proceeded to sing a funeral song, and the other children did not mourn. The point is, Jesus and John did not perform their ministries according to the expectations of the Pharisees and lawyers, and they did not like it. But the Lord makes a profound statement that we all need to consider. He said,

"Yet, wisdom is vindicated by all her children” – Luke 7:35

Jesus is speaking of the comparison of wisdom-His and John’s (ultimately, God’s) versus the Pharisees and the lawyers. In order to determine the quality of wisdom, look at what is being produced and compare that against righteousness. Then you will be able to comprehend wisdom. Or, to quote another teaching,

“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:18–20

The “offspring” of God’s work are those submissive to God’s purposes. Those who reject those purposes, like the Pharisees and lawyers, are not wise. Therefore, look at what people produce in order to determine the quality, or qualification, of the wisdom used. Thus, it is a basic fact of like, a principle for everything-if you want to know the quality of a teaching, ideal, or leader, look at what is produced.

Paul takes that truism and establishes it in the life of the church. In the next post, we will begin to examine 1 Timothy 3:4-5. In the meantime, consider what the author of Hebrews 13:7 wrote,

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

If you want to know the viability of a ministry, elder, pastor, or church, do not look at what it boasts, teaches, or claims. Look at what that ministry, elder, pastor, or church produces. Consider (examine, scrutinize) the result of their conduct, and then imitate their faith.

Pastor or elder, how are you doing? What are you producing? What does your home life look like? My attempt here is not to set up an impossible standard built upon a contrived self-righteousness which only I can meet. My goal here is to understand what pleases God in the homes of the men called to lead God’s flock, and expect that from them. As with any job, there are standards, whether it is a sales quota, production quota, or some other standard of qualification for the work. How much more, then, the standards of representing the Lord Jesus Christ before His people (Leviticus 10:3; cf. Exodus 19:22).