I Am Not a Pastor
November 25, 2017 Shaun McDonald

I Am Not a Pastor by Shaun McDonald

I Am Not a Pastor by Shaun McDonald

 

Consider these statements that I’ve heard over the last decade:Consider these statements that I’ve heard over the last decade:

“You’re a pastor though, so you can’t do that right?”

“I can’t lie to you, you’re a pastor.”

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t talk like that in front of a pastor.”



These all have one thing in common. The assumption is that being a pastor means that there is a different standard. There is a different standard for how one ought to conduct themselves in front of me, and there is a different standard for me than for everyone else. Both of these assumptions are false. The same standard has been set for all people. God delivered the standard at Sinai (Deuteronomy 4:3), Jesus fulfilled the standard in His life and ministry (Matthew 5:17), and by the Spirit’s power, we are to be conformed to that standard day by day (Romans 8:29).

When I teach the New Testament, there is always that time when you approach the Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus). At that point, well-meaning church members can tend to see this as a time to “check out.” After all, these letters were written to pastors, and they are not pastors. It has nothing to do with them. Or does it?

Someone said to me, “Pastors have a higher calling.” No, pastors do not have a higher calling. We have a higher accountability. There is a difference. We are all called to live the same way, to the glory of God, in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17). Just take the lists given to Timothy and Titus concerning the pastor’s conduct and compare it with the rest of Scripture pertaining to every believer:

1 Timothy 3:2-7 (NIV)

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4 NIV)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”” (Matthew 5:27-28 NIV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” (Philippians 2:14-15 NIV)

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9 NIV)

not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” (Ephesians 5:18 NIV)

“Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” (1 Timothy 2:8 NIV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” (Ephesians 5:3 NIV)

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.

“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:18-21 NIV)

He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.“And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 NIV)

If you took the time to read all of those Scriptures (and the parallel passage in Titus 1:5-9) you will see that the calling of a pastor is the same as the calling of every other believer. Here are the differences though: vocation, proclamation and education.

Vocation

A pastor is called to an “office.” That office cannot be held if he is not all of the things above. You can be a Christian and not be all of those things, but you cannot be a pastor if you are not all of those things. That is vocation.

Proclamation

In addition, a pastor is called to teach. The office of pastor cannot be held by one who is unable to teach. Again, you can be a Christian and not be able to teach Scripture, but you cannot be a pastor if you are not able to teach Scripture. That is proclamation.

Education

And finally, a pastor needs to be one who is seasoned and well-acquainted with Scripture. Not only does he need to have a firm grasp of the gospel and an adherence to the truths of Scripture, he needs to also have been tested and proven as a faithful and humble believer. You can be a Christian and not yet have a full grasp of the gospel and other major truths of Scripture, but you cannot be a pastor. You can be a Christian and have only been one for a day, but you cannot be a pastor until you have been tested and proven. You can even be arrogant and be a Christian, but you should not be arrogant and be a pastor! All of this is education. It is the education of study and experience.

Why this article? Because, as many authors have sought to address, we seem to be lacking in our understanding of holiness when it comes to all believers. Paul’s attitude ought to be the attitude of every believer, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV) Not one of us, pastor or church member, has “arrived,” but we all ought to be on our way more and more as The Day approaches.

Recommended Reading:

The Hole in our Holiness, Kevin DeYoungThe Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry BridgesSpiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Don WhitneySlave, John MacArthur


 


 

Shaun McDonald top christian booksShaun McDonald serves as the Youth Pastor at Open Arms Church in Schenectady, NY. He’s been in youth ministry since 2004, and has been serving on staff with Open Arms since 2008. Shaun received his AAS in Pastoral Ministry from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, his BS in Religion from Liberty University, and is currently pursuing his MA in Youth and Family Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Shaun and his wife Christine live in upstate NY with their three children.

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