So, who is qualified to serve in the church offices of elder or deacon?
1 Tim. 3:1-13 reads:
3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
Okay, so there are sixteen (possibly seventeen depending on the gender question) qualifications for elders/pastors found in 1 Tim. 3:1-7. We can break them down like this:
Relation to God
1. A man? (we will deal with that one later).
2. Above reproach: without major character defects that have given him (or her) a bad reputation in the community.
3. Able to teach: effective communicator (either public or private) that knows the message of Jesus.
4. Not a new convert: mature Christian.
Relation to Family
5. Husband of one wife (or lit. “one woman man”): sexually pure.
6. Submissive children: successful father if he has children.
7. Manages family well: provides for, leads, organizes, loves.
Relation to Self
8. Sober-minded: mentally and emotionally stable.
9. Self-controlled: disciplined life of sound decision-making.
10. Not a drunkard: without addictions.
11. Not a lover of money: financially content and upright.
Relation to Others
12. Respectable: worth following and imitating.
13. Hospitable: welcomes strangers, especially non-Christians, for evangelism.
14. Not violent: even tempered.
15. Gentle: kind, gracious, loving.
16. Not quarrelsome: peaceable, not divisive or contentious.
17. Well thought of by outsiders: respected by non-Christians.
Then there are 12 Qualifications for deacons/servants found in 1 Tim. 3:8-13.
1. Dignified: worthy of respect, without any major character defects.
2. Not double-tongued: sincere, heartfelt, earnest, honest and authentic.
3. Not addicted to much wine: without addictions, self-controlled.
4. Not greedy for dishonest gain: not a lover of money, financially content and upright.
5. Hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience: sound biblical theology held with deep convictions.
6. Tested: proven worthy over time.
Additional Requirements for Female Deacons
7. Dignified: honored by both men and women as exemplary Christians, without any character defect.
8. Not slanderers: not malicious talkers, not prone to sins of the tongue such as gossip, slander, lying, etc.
9. Sober-minded: temperate, not prone to emotionalism.
10. Faithful in all things: trustworthy in everything, faithful in all life roles (e.g., wife, mother daughter, sister).
Additional Requirements for Male Deacons
11. Husband of one wife: sexually pure.
12. Manages his children and household well: godly husband and father who leads, manages, and provides for his family.
There you have it. Now, I caution not to use this as a checklist but more of a guide. After all, if you apply these strictly then the Apostle Paul himself wouldn’t qualify to lead a local church but more of that later.
Until then, grace and peace.
Posted by Matt, Revolution Leadership Team.