How Will He Care for God’s Church?

The title is a quote from the apostle Paul, 1 Tim 3.5b.  The context of the quote concerns the qualifications for those men gifted by God and set apart by the church for the noble task of overseer (elder/pastor).  The most immediate context is that qualification that deals with the management of one’s own home.  “He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”  Simply put, if he knows not how to manage his own household, he is not fit to care for God’s household whom He has so graciously adopted to Himself through Jesus Christ.

Much has been said and written concerning the professionalization of the ministry.  We have listened to many sermons, read John Piper’s book, and given an attentive presence to the echoes of well-meaning professors, and yet many still go comatose to a passage such as the stated above as soon as they receive a ministerial degree; as if their call to gospel ministry were through the seminary rather than the local church with whom the live and serve and worship.  Gospel ministry is no job in the sense that any other job in all the world is a job.  No degree qualifies any man for this stewardship.  God has divinely specified qualifications for the men that would aspire to shepherd His flock.

The greatest barometer for the pastoral ministry is God’s Word and the people among whom you live out the gospel.  Thus, the most pertinent and natural person(s) with whom an aspiring pastor has to do, God excepted, is his wife and children.  The issue is as simple and potentially difficult as this: ask your wife and children, “Do I pastor you well and with all dignity?”  I say simple because it is that simple.  And, I say potentially difficult because our pride might not like what we hear in response.  It is because your life is so constantly on display to them, both the grace of God and the failings of your flesh, the gold that He is refining and the black eyes of your mismanagement, that it is to them that we must preeminently attend to and shepherd with persistent humility, prayer, and a quick willingness to confess sin with pleadings for forgiveness.

The church may witness our doctored teaching, pristine preaching, earnest serving, and zealous leadership, but they will not observe our quick temper, or our irritability, or our stumbling into sin, or our functional gods in the same way or to the same degree that Jenny or Luke most certainly will mine.  Thus, God makes the godly management of the home prerequisite to the pious care of His church, because by dealing in reality with them, we are left naked, we are laid to bare before God and those most intimately aware of who we are in private and in public.  By their accountability the conscience is kept soft, the heart repentant, the aspiring shepherd holy where and when it matters most.  If a man will be holy in private with his family, he will be holy in public with God’s elect.

So this divine qualification prevents us from any pretense of self-deception, and it protects God’s family from careless shepherds who for the time being are not yet ripened enough on the Vine of Christ Jesus.  Let us not then take the noble office nonchalantly as if any man would suffice to lead Christ’s people to Him and to everlasting glory.  Let us be quick to God’s Word.  Let us take care to move at the pace of His requirements, applying them diligently and prayerfully, and coming to them time and again for a heavenly appraisal.  And, let us, brothers, beg of God to help us manage, care for and shepherd our wives and children with grace, dignity, faithfulness, and preeminence.  Then, by God’s mercy, we shall be qualified by Him to care for His church.

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