5. The Pursuit of Pastoral Faithfulness

Personal Holiness and the Biblical Qualifications

The pastor’s first priority is to live as a Christian before God, wherein he joyfully pursues Christ, cultivates personal holiness, and maintains a clear conscience, knowing that he is of no use to the church apart from his likeness to Christ (1 Tim 4:16; cf. Ezra 7:10; Jer 23:32; Mal 13:44–46; 2 Cor 1:12–13; 2:17; 4:1– 2; 2 Tim 2:20–21). In this, he must be an example to the flock in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity of life and doctrine (1 Tim 4:12; Titus 2:7–8). His character must be above reproach, as defined by the qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9, and as assessed by other qualified elders of Christ’s church (1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 2:2).

Private Prayer and the Spiritual Disciplines

The faithful pastor is characterized by a life of communion with God through prayer, both for the sustenance of his own soul and for the health and growth of the flock (Pss 42:1–2; 139:23–24; Mark 1:35; Acts 6:4; Col 1:3–14). The faithful pastor is characterized by the disciplined study of and meditation on the Scriptures, so that he himself is sanctified by the Word before he teaches others (Josh 1:8; Ezra 7:10; Job 15:16; 23:12; Pss 1:1–3; 119:18, 97, 148; John 17:17). The faithful pastor is characterized by a life in fellowship with other believers, partaking of the Lord’s Table, observing and administering the baptism of converts, and regularly being edified by the spiritual gifts of other believers (1 Cor 11:23–26; Col 3:15–17).

Ministry Integrity and Mutual Accountability

The faithful pastor is a man who practices what he preaches, whose life is the same in private as in public, whose character is free from duplicity and underhandedness, and whose integrity of life and doctrine issues in a clear conscience before God and men (Ezra 7:10; Mal 23:3; 2 Cor 1:12–13; 2:17; 4:1–2; Heb 4:13). To aid in this pursuit, the pastor recognizes that he is never above the need for accountability, but instead he seeks personal accountability from his fellow elders, from his congregants, and from other believers and fellow pastors (Ps 141:5; 1 Tim 5:19–22).