A Pastoral Prayer Guide

The following list of pastoral qualifications does not suggest that a brother is perfect in every respect, because maturity varies based on Christian experience and the sanctifying work of the Spirit of God. However, no man will be considered as a valid candidate for pastoral ministry in this church where there are obvious omissions or violations in one or more of these areas.

The church must exercise patience, discernment, and earnest prayer in the selection of future leaders. The following list also serves as a guide for the church as it prays for its current and future leadership, that these brothers would increase and abound in these areas so that their progress may be evident to all (1 Tim. 4:15), to the praise of God's grace that enables them to do so (1 Cor. 15:10). 

We ought to thank and praise our God that His love, concern, and care for the church is such that He's laid out clear qualifications that aspiring leaders must meet if they're to serve as under-shepherds (pastors) of the flock that belongs to the Chief Shepherd, to whom we all must give an account. If left to ourselves to come up with the qualifications for pastoral ministry, based on what "seems right" in our own eyes, our standard would be so pathetically pragmatic and basic: "Is the man gifted?"

Sadly, many evangelical churches have lowered the standards for pastoral ministry, taking their eyes off the Biblical qualifications given by God for the good of the church, and has become eager to lay hands on any man as long as he’s gifted, good to look at, and has a great personality. Like Israel in the days when the people were desperate for a king, the church is quick to fall over for men like Saul who, although attractive, gifted, and successful by all worldly standards (1 Sam. 9:1-2), come in and do nothing but “take…take…take” in order to serve themselves (1 Sam. 8:10-18). But God is far more concerned with a man's personal and private godliness than with his public giftedness.

In the hands of a patient, perceptive, and prayerful church, these Biblical qualifications help to weed out the selfishly ambitious (Phil. 1:17), the secretly idolatrous (Acts 8:18-20), the wickedly adulterous (2 Pet. 2:14), the proudly imperious (3 John 9), and the inwardly ravenous (Matt. 7:15), men who have no genuine concern for the church's welfare (Phil. 2:20). These qualifications prevent the church from being led and led astray by self-serving shepherds who have no real desire to labor for the joy of Christ's people (2 Cor. 1:24). They serve as divinely appointed gatekeepers to guard the house of God from men like Diotrephes who seek their own interests, crave the highest ranking positions, and defy both apostolic and Biblical authority (3 John 9).

May the Lord Jesus Christ shine His face upon us and be gracious to us by blessing us with shepherds after His own heart who toil with all the energy that He powerfully works within them in order that they might proclaim Him, "warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ" (Col. 1:28-29).

The New Testament teaches that a pastor (or elder)...

1. Must be above reproach and not open to blame (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6-7).

2. Must be the husband of one wife, that is, a "one-woman" man (1 Tim. 3:2).

3. Must lead and manage his household well and with dignity (1 Tim. 3:4-5; Titus 1:6). This includes the way he leads his wife: he loves and cherishes her (Eph. 5:25-30), demonstrating understanding and showing honor to her as the weaker vessel as opposed to being harsh with her (1 Pet. 3:7; Col. 3:19). This also includes the way he leads his children: with dignity and respect he teaches them to be obedient (1 Tim. 3:4), doesn't provoke them to anger (Eph. 6:4), or discouragement (Col. 3:21), but on the contrary nourishes them in the discipline and instruction of Christ (Eph. 6:4).   

4. Must not be arrogant, overbearing, self-willed, or self-pleasing (Titus 1:7).

5. Must not be inclined to angeror be a quick-tempered hot-head (Titus 1:7).

6. Must not be quarrelsome, contentious, or pugnacious, always eager to argue and fight (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7).

7. Must not be greedy for personal gain but be free from the love of money and materialism (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7).

8. Must not be a drunkard or addicted to wine (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7).

9. Must be hospitable, friendly, and welcoming (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8).

10. Must not be violent or aggressive (1 Tim. 3:3).

11. Must be gentle and not abusive (1 Tim. 3:3).

12. Must be sober-minded and self-controlled (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8).

13. Must be disciplined, respectable, and well-mannered (1 Tim. 3:2).

14. Must be righteous, just, and upright (Titus 1:8).

15. Must be holy and devout (Titus 1:8).

16. Must be a lover of goodness (Titus 1:8).

17. Must be devoted to the Scriptures (Titus 1:9).

18. Must be able to teach the Scriptures (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9).

19. Must be able to defend the truth (Titus 1:9).

20. Must have a genuine concern to feed the flock (John 21:15-17).

21. Must be a seasoned Christian and not a recent convert (1 Tim. 3:6).

22. Must have a good reputation among those outside the church (1 Tim. 3:7).

Note: Aside from the qualifications relating to skill and ability (i.e. able to teach, etc.), many of these traits are repeated elsewhere in Scripture as qualities that ought to characterize the lives of all Christians, which is why this list may also be used as a prayer guide for all believers. Our Lord Jesus desires His church to be made up of men and women who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, increase and abound in these beautiful qualities in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 4:11).