All who sense God’s calling to ministry will be wise to consider the biblical requirements of a minister. Qualifications for ministers are listed in several New Testament passages including 1 Timothy chapter 3 where the apostle Paul writes:
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach.” (1 Tim. 3:1-2a).
From the start the apostle points out that one who aspires to the office of overseer or pastor desires a noble position. He then proceeds to describe the nobility of character required of all who seek to fill the role. Essentially, such persons must be “above reproach.”
It is fairly easy to overlook the need for strong character when you think of a pastor because we tend to focus on more glamorous aspects of the position to lead the church. We pay attention to a pastor’s personality or we concern ourselves with charisma and gifts for leadership.
Sometimes we admire eloquence in leading prayer and the ability to deliver stirring messages week after week. While these characteristics are of some value, Paul clearly indicates that the pastor’s character is absolutely indispensable. In fact, those who lack depth of Christian character need not apply.
As Paul continues he fleshes out what he means by the phrase “above reproach” in greater detail. An overseer must be the “husband of one wife,” literally a “one woman man,” which speaks to loyalty and commitment in the home.
The pastor is to be serious, self-controlled and hospitable to others. Excess must be avoided whether it relates to anger and violence, abuse of alcohol, bickering, or the love of money. Furthermore, one who fails to manage his own house well should not presume to be capable of managing the household of God. Recent converts should not be considered because their character has not yet matured and the temptation to pride will be strong.
Finally, the list comes full circle by requiring that overseers be highly regarded by outsiders. This is to say that an overseer should be above reproach not only in the estimation of the church but also in the estimation of the community that the church will reach through the gospel.