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Biblical Qualifications of a Pastor

Above Reproach

Pastor Scott Thomas

The Bible specifically speaks about the qualifications for those who will lead a congregation of people. These qualifications have been the same for almost 2,000 years. Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of these qualifications as the “senior pastor” of the Church. 

Above Reproach (Titus 1:6, 7; 1 Tim 3:2)

This is the overarching, summarizing characteristic. You will find similar (but not identical) lists in First Timothy and Titus. Living a life above reproach is the first requirement in both lists and Titus repeats it. The other items on the list explain what “above reproach” means. If we peruse the two lists, as well as First Peter, we find 17 qualifications of an elder who is above reproach.

1. A Pastor must be devoted to his wife; one-woman man (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim 3:2).

The pastor’s marriage illustrates Christ’s love for His church—His bride (Eph. 5:22 ff.). A Pastor must love his wife exclusively with his mind, will and emotions and not just his body.

2. A Pastor’s children must be in submission, though not perfect (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim 3:4-5).

If a man does not know how to manage his own family, he will not know how to take care of God’s church. The first flock for a pastor is his own family as Pastor Dad. A Pastor’s qualification for the church starts in his home management as he leads them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

3. A Pastor is a faithful Steward (Titus 1:7)

Here the term used is overseer (Greek episkopos). It is not another office, but a functional title of the elder. It is what he does. He is a steward, a manager of God’s resources and Jesus’ flock. He takes responsibility, but not ownership.

4. A Pastor must be humble - not arrogant (Titus 1:7)

A pastor must constantly demonstrate the gospel by admitting when he is wrong and assuming responsibility and restoring relationships.

5. A Pastor must be gentle - not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3)

No man will be of any use in the kingdom that is quick-tempered. The difference between how Jesus demonstrated anger is that He was angry at the abuse of others in the name of religion and the dishonoring of God. We get angry at how it affects us.

6. A Pastor must be sober - not a drunkard (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3)

This is not just overindulgence in alcohol but is idiomatic for any behavior that fuels addictive responses.

7. A Pastor must be peaceful - not violent (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3)

A pastor is prone to inflict violence through his words. He is to be a peacemaker.

8. A Pastor must have financial integrity - not greedy for gain (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3; 1 Peter 5:3)

A pastor is to be upright in his financial dealings and not accused of pursuing money over the kingdom of God.

9. A pastor must be hospitable (Titus 1:8; 1 Tim 3:2)

A pastor’s home is to be open for others to enjoy. A pastor’s home is not a heaven on earth, but rather a place of ministry.

10. A Pastor must be a lover of good (Titus 1:8)

A pastor genuinely loves what is good. He does not just think he should love it.

11. A Pastor must be self-controlled (Titus 1:8; 1 Tim 3:2)

Self-control is a characterization of every area of a pastor’s life: diet, time, mouth, exercise, relationships, sex, and money.

12. A Pastor must be upright (Titus 1:8)

He has integrity in his relationships and in how he treats others.

13. A Pastor must be holy (Titus 1:8)

His life is devoted wholeheartedly to Jesus externally and internally.

14. A Pastor must be able to teach (Titus 1:9; 1 Tim 3:2)

All of the other qualifications are character qualities. This is the only ability-based requirement. He is to be able to teach sound doctrine, not just be able to communicate in an excellent manner. His teaching can be to one or two, to twenty, to a hundred or to a thousand. Most of the churches in Crete were house churches. The elders were to defend the faith once delivered to the saints against the numerous false teachers that arose.

15. A Pastor must be spiritually Mature (1 Tim 3:6)

Positions of authority without spiritual maturity lead to the trap of pride. When pride grows in a man, sin abounds.

16. A Pastor must be respectable (1 Tim 3:7)

That does not mean that everyone must like him or even appreciate him. It means that there is no credible witness to an ongoing sinful behavior.

17. A Pastor must be an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3)

Elders are examples of Biblical expressions sexually, time management, marriage, parenting, worship, relationships and any other way. A pastor should be someone your sons could pattern their life after and the kind of man your daughter should marry.

What would you do if an elder violates one of these requirements? 1 Timothy 5:19-20 warns us not to accuse an elder flippantly. Matthew 18:15-18 gives us the steps: 1) Go to the elder alone, 2) If still unsatisfied, go with another person, 3) If still unsatisfied, let the greater eldership know. If accusations are verified and the elder remains unrepentant, rebuking that elder before all is the next biblical step.



christian caldwell

on Jun 12, 2012 :: 7:56 am

Great article brother

prof uzoma emmanuel afamefuna

on Apr 25, 2013 :: 9:48 am

good description about a pastors character i love it

Daniel Thomas

on Jul 5, 2013 :: 2:27 pm

Thank you so much for clearing up some questions I had.


on Jul 31, 2013 :: 7:14 am

Thank you so much for your efforts. This is a really good article which is easy to understand for people who are confused.
May God Bless You!


on Sep 6, 2013 :: 10:35 pm

I thank God for you; it is quite enlightening. I now have a better grasp of who is a Pastor. Remain blessed,


on Sep 7, 2013 :: 11:14 am

I enjoyed the teachings. However I would like to ask, can God call women to be pastors?


on Sep 18, 2013 :: 10:26 am

Thank you so much for the article. It has given me a much clearer understanding of my pastor. The scriptures gave me insight on a better walk in my Christian life!

Marshall Rodriguez

on Oct 7, 2013 :: 7:22 pm

GOOD job descibing the qualifications of pastors!

V. D. John

on Oct 8, 2013 :: 2:02 am

Straight to the point and short and sweet descriptions!!! Wonderful


on Oct 16, 2013 :: 12:39 am

I am so thankful to you

Tyrone reese

on Nov 5, 2013 :: 1:11 pm

thank you for this imformation,it have help me greatly


on Nov 14, 2013 :: 11:22 pm

Very thorough summation; love the scriptural ref. with your thoughts. Always thought it interesting that we make a big deal about how one should be "Called". Yet, I find no explicit scriptural ref. in the Word. Sort of makes you appreciate the need for our salvation through Christ Jesus as a requirement for a relationship with God. Bob


on Nov 17, 2013 :: 3:43 am

Thnx. it has been helpful God bless you.


on Nov 19, 2013 :: 12:26 pm

Thaqt's excellent.but may respectfully add though that your conclusion needs a modest adjusment
If you hear gossip you are not to act on it but affirm it from several witnesses
your conclusion deals with a situation if a pastor violates the requirements and if that is the case and it is proven to be sinful he is to be rebuked [lovingly] publically so that all may fearmay fear
Matthew deals with brothership generally and a trespass by one against another should be dealt privately but become more public for either assessment of the alleged trespass or dealing with the hardness of the offender's heart.
Yours in Christ ..John
1The scripture in Timothy


on Nov 22, 2013 :: 6:53 am

What.... no seminary degree?


on Nov 29, 2013 :: 10:25 am

the pulpit committee at my church has subscribed to the thought that the interim pastor will not be considered as a candidate for the full-time pastorate. this is a recommendation through out the southern Baptist convention. I know this to be an intrusion into the Baptist church by the devil--a comprise of the Word of God as this thought is not of the Word of God.


on Jan 7, 2014 :: 7:07 am

The word of God is a light unto our path thank you for the enlightenment God bless you - Seyi Ademoyegun


on Jan 8, 2014 :: 7:49 pm

So are you saying in order to be a pastor, lets say the lead pastor of a church you have to be married and have a family?


on Jan 8, 2014 :: 9:52 pm

What if I'm divorced?


on Jan 30, 2014 :: 3:52 pm

Question; Should a Pastors advocate young marrage?


on Mar 12, 2014 :: 6:26 am

Very good work, I love it. this will truly help my Sunday school class. thank God for you.


on Apr 2, 2014 :: 12:14 am

Question I'm a youth pastor. But some people say that because I haven't gone to seminary I should not call myself a pastor. So what how should I introduce myself to parents?


on Apr 5, 2014 :: 1:08 pm

must a elder be married in order to be a pastor ? what if he fulfills all the requirements needed to be a pastor? was john or timothy married did they pastor churches ? thank you beloved .


on Apr 13, 2014 :: 9:40 am

What about a pAstor that has been involved in porn and adultery but has asked forgiveness? I mean applying for a pastor position.


on Apr 16, 2014 :: 9:52 pm

How long have you been married Scott Thomas? Your article is lacking an explanation on how you were a youth pastor scripturally.

Married how long?

on Apr 16, 2014 :: 9:55 pm

How long have you been married and had kids? More than 30 years?


on Aug 30, 2014 :: 7:15 pm

Man appoints but God anoints. I do not think seminary is bad at all. I also do not think its a NEEDED thing. God equips the called. He does not call the equipped. Home grown pastors are just as great!


on Apr 12, 2015 :: 11:07 pm


Rock Kephahs

on Apr 26, 2015 :: 11:26 am

thanks pastor,its a good teaching