The Need for Godly Character in the Pulpit
Moral purity—the need to be above reproach
To be above reproach, what does that mean? Put simply, to be above reproach is to be blameless. Not quite sure that helps us much. The original language paints for us a picture that we can wrap our minds around. It gives the idea that this is a person who can’t be laid hold of as in reference to accusation. In other words, there is nothing apparent in his life that others can find fault over. Now this is not a sinless person that we are talking about, but someone who is living rightly with God, who is diligent in his life, checking himself to see if there is anything in his life that might cause Christ’s name to be shamed, then dealing with that so that Christ won’t be shamed. He is one who wants to please God. There is only one person who is sinless, but Scripture indicates in many places that there have been many who were called blameless. So this is something that can be attained. Why then is it important? Credibility. Credibility in ministry depends on a blameless character. When others look at us, many are judging God based on what they see in us. Satan will do everything he can to discredit the minister and his ministry. So credibility is essential for a minister. It aids him in his ministry and gives legs to his teaching. Furthermore, we are asking others to follow our example. Phil 3:17 reveals Paul’s command to the Philippians to follow him as he followed Christ. Paul in 4:12 of 1 Timothy, tells Timothy to be an example to the believers. So if we are asking them to follow our example, then our example needs to be morally pure.
Spiritually mature—the need to be strong in the faith
Not only should the minister be morally pure, but he should be spiritually mature. As we look at the list of qualifications laid out in the text before us, we see in verse 6, that this man should not be a new convert. Picture in your mind, a beautiful garden and in that garden there is a patch of newly turned soil. Coming up out of that soil is a little sapling, recently having broken though the surface. Remember what it was like for you when you first broke the surface as a new Christians, when you fist began to learn what it meant to be a Christ, when you fist began to serve, etc. Paul tells Timothy that the man who desires to lead should not be one who has recently broken the surface, otherwise they might become prideful. A spiritually mature person is one who is reliant on God. When we rely on God we have the right perspective. The minister should be one who looks to Christ each and every day. He is committed and consistent. In addition, he is one who has been tested. You can have someone who is totally committed to Christ and ruin them by taking them and promoting them into a level of responsibility before they have been adequately tested. Scripture indicates that we if we are faithful in the small things, we will be faithful in the big things. This man should be given small doses of responsibility before throwing him into the full weight of leading a church. There is a large pitfall that one avoids by insisting that this man be spiritually mature, that he will not become prideful. In Isaiah 14 we see Satan asserting his intentions to be like God, having been clouded with pride, saying to himself that he would by his own ability reach up to heaven and be like God. By making sure that the minister is spiritually mature, pride does not become as great a threat to his ministry. Furthermore, by insisting that he serve in other areas first, he has the ability to learn those things he thought he knew as well as testing his abilities and giftedness.
Spiritual stability—the need for accurate use of God’s Word
The list indicates to us that there is a third attribute that should be present in this man, the accurate handling of the Word of God. He should be able to teach. Some translations render this as apt to teach, which merely means that he has the ability and the capability to teach the Word of God. It should be noted that the man of God will more accurately interpret God’s Word when he is morally pure and spiritually mature. When these two are in proper balance, then he can accurately handle the Word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:2 says that we should entrust the teaching ministry of the church to reliable men who also be able to teach others (check this interpretation). The man who desires to serve should be one who can teach the Word of God. Why? Ephesians 4:12 tells us that among those given for leadership, pastors and teachers are to equip the saints for works of service and for the building up of the church. I am not saying the he needs to be an eloquent speaker, but he does need to be one who can communicate God’s Word to the people so that they are instructed, rebuked, corrected, and trained in the way of righteousness. You see the pastor has the task of leading or shepherding the church, to teach them how they should conduct themselves in the body of Christ. The real issue here is that the minister is one who can teach. I have know some ministers who after hearing their sermons week after week, I had no idea what they were talking about. I am not trying to condemn them but I am saying that God has a standard that he calls us to live up to. Its hight, but its high on purpose because we are standing in the forefront and will receive a lot of scrutiny.
The ability to stand in ministry will depend on godly character. Bing morally pure, being spiritually mature, and being spiritually stable are essential qualities that need to be present in the minister for him to stand in the task laid before him by the Lord. Without these qualities, the pulpit and every other aspect of ministry are hindered. John MacArthur in his book Different by Design says “The character and effectiveness of any church id directly related to the quality of its leadership”. Having men in ministry who are morally pure, spiritually mature, and spiritually stable ensures that the quality of a church’s leadership is in tune with standards that God intended.