Maturing or growing to be more like Jesus is an expected quality for every believer. As we mature, we should be serving in our local churches in addition to serving The Lord in our lives. Ephesians 4:11-16 says,
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Serving The Lord in an “official” church capacity is a big responsibility which requires the maturity to live life in a godly manner (Looking and behaving like Jesus). Our lives are testimonies to the people around us, the lost, the less mature, and every person we come in contact with during each day. In 1 Timothy chapter 3 Paul gives us qualifications for some of the official church jobs, these are also goals for each of us which mark maturity. Verses 1-7 read,
“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.”
Let’s break it down.
First it is a good thing and a noble task to want to be a pastor of a church. Noble means: having, showing, or coming from personal qualities that people admire (such as honesty, generosity, courage, and virtue)
: of, relating to, or belonging to the highest social class : of, relating to, or belonging to the nobility
He must be above reproach. People should not be able to criticize him for being dishonest or otherwise unprincipled.
He has to have only one wife, which includes not being an adulterer.
He must be sober-minded- Rational and sensible.
Respectable- can people respect him? Is he worthy of deference?
Hospitable- Welcoming, friendly, and kind.
Able to teach- even if teaching is not his gift, it has to be an ability to explain the Gospel and the Bible to people.
Not a drunkard- The pastor can’t be getting drunk or high all the time. If he feels the need to get drunk, then he has not dealt with issues in his life.
Not violent but gentle
Not quarrelsome- He can’t feel the need to argue all the time. Asserting his own will and opinions with many people is a sign that his mind and confidence is weak (2 Timothy 3:1-9) and leads to the congregation’s deterioration. 2 Timothy 2:14 reads,
“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.”
Not a lover of money and able to manage his own household.
And not a recent convert- a new believer might meet these qualifications but in his newness having such an important role will cause him to be prideful and he will end up living a very ungodly selfish life.
Moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders- If those outside the church think unkindly about him, if he has earned a bad reputation, then how can he lead anyone to Christ? Where is the tangible love?
Verses 8-13 list qualifications for deacons, also an important job in the church the people who are responsible for carrying out the ministrations and good works of the church. (Acts 6:1-7). Verses 8-13 read,
“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.”
Most of us are not pastors, church leaders, or deacons, but still people ought to be able to say these things about us. And we ought to be moving toward these traits regardless. Maturity, the ability to understand the profound Gospel truth and the ability to teach it are our goals. Hebrews 5:11-Hebrews 6:3 reads,
“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.”
We can’t just keep getting saved repeatedly. We have to move beyond the first steps of our journey and continue to deep knowledge (relationship) with God. Our maturity shows in our lives, our actions, and our attitudes. Maturity, resembling Christ is our goal. Verses 14-16 read,
“I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.”