The Need For Shepherds – Ted Bigelow

But before any man can serve the Lord in church leadership, he must meet a list of 26 requirements in his life. When a man meets all these requirements, he is to be recognized by the sheep as a truly qualified shepherd. The list is found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1; it is stringent and weeds out a lot of men who might like to be church leaders. But this list also motivates men to become more like Christ, the True Shepherd of the flock. It provides a God-given target for men to aim their lives and ministry at. Furthermore, this list is the same for every church in every culture, because every man who grows in Christ-likeness looks more and more like the qualities of this list.

Starting with 1 Timothy 3:1–7, each man to whom Jesus grants leadership has all the following qualities:

  1. aspires to the office of overseer”—one who is internally motivated by deep conviction to do all that  Christ may ask of him in the care and feeding of Christians;
  2. is above reproach”—against whom no accusation of sin is justified, but is upright in every area of life;
  3. the husband of one wife”—a man who (if married) is not adulterous, is not flirtatious or sexually impure in any other way, but is completely given to his own wife;
  4. temperate”—one not given to excess in pleasures or habits;
  5. sober-minded”—a man who is not given to foolish or eccentric thinking;
  6. respectable”—a person who elicits trust from others by virtue of godliness and kindness;
  7. hospitable”—one who cares for others with his own resources, especially in the use of his home;
  8. able to teach”—one who directs others into Scripture, providing effective guidance and instruction;
  9. not a drunkard”—one who is not overcome by sensory pleasures such as alcohol;
  10. gentle”—a man who might be slandered and mistreated but will still serve with meekness and unfailing graciousness;
  11. not quarrelsome”—one who makes peace and maintains it by upholding biblical standards and comforting others;
  12. not a lover of money”—one who invests in God’s kingdom, is generous, and refuses to make money in any manner that dishonors the Lord;
  13. manages his own household well”—in humility and strength, he successfully leads all aspects of family life into conformity with the word of God;
  14. with all dignity keeping his children submissive”—whose younger children, if any, display the fruit of their father’s wise and godly hand in their attitudes and characters;
  15. not a recent convert”—one who has been tested by numerous trials and has displayed a stable faith in the midst of failure and success;
  16. well thought of by outsiders”—there are no just reasons even among unbelievers for why this man should not be a leader of the church.

Then from Titus 1:6–9, those not already covered in 1 Timothy 3 are:

  1. his children are believers”—in older children there is evident fruit of sovereign grace, the seal upon the man’s private and intimate conduct in the home;
  2. “not be arrogant”—one who is not filled with himself in speech and actions, who prefers others above himself;
  3. not quick-tempered”—one who is not rude with people, or has a low boiling point when he is ignored or doesn’t get his way;
  4. a lover of good”—a man who prizes good works, who loves to see good come to pass, and shuns or reproves all things less than good;
  5. upright”—one whose dealings with all men are correct and true, who does not steal or malign, and who rejoices in integrity, even to his own hurt;
  6. holy”—one who shuns sin in every form, who will reprove it in others professing godliness, and who lives to worship Jesus Christ as his greatest joy and highest priority;
  7. disciplined”—conducts himself with godliness in every situation;
  8. holding fast the faithful word”—one who is knowledgeable of Scripture and is deep in conviction to its tenets, both doctrinally and ethically;
  9. able to exhort in sound doctrine”—one who can comfort the depressed and challenge the lax with a doctrinal approach to God and life;
  10. able to refute those who contradict”—can use Scripture to confront hardened error, and if need be, will follow every Scriptural command out to its full extent, such as in church discipline.

If only all churches today were led by such men! For when a man truly matches up with Christ’s qualifications, then he is worthy to be entrusted by the sheep with leadership over them. Scripture tells us several times to submit to such men (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13; 1 Peter 5:5; Hebrews 13:17). The elders have been granted the same kind of authority in a church as a godly father has in a home (1 Timothy 3:4–5).


Ted Bigelow is Lead Pastor of Grace Church in Hartford, CT, USA

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About John
A follower of Christ and sinner who needs his grace everyday.

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