"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Fundamental Qualification for Pastoral Ministry Is A Godly Character

At this year's Together for the Gospel Conference, C.J. Mahaney's plenary session message was entitled Watch Your Life and Doctrine. He took as his text 1 Timothy 4:16 which reads: "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."

Mahaney challenged the pastors in audience with these words (emphasis mine):

Sound doctrine is not enough, because according to Scripture, the fundamental qualification for pastoral ministry is godly character. Neither skill, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, nor reputation, nor personality, nor apparent fruitfulness of public ministry will suffice. Scan 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and you will encounter a profile of personal piety.

Yes, the pastor must be able to teach. Certainly, he must handle the Word of truth accurately and skillfully. But the foundational assumption of Scripture--both for appointment to or continuation in ministry--is that the pastor provide a godly example. Not a perfect example, but an authentic example. As Spurgeon exhorted his students in "The Minister's Self-Watch," "Our characters must be more persuasive than our speech."

If we neglect the command of 1 Timothy 4:16--if we fail to watch our life closely, carefully, and uncompromisingly--negative consequences are inevitable, for ourselves, our family, our pastoral team, and our church. A marked or prolonged inattention to personal holiness in a pastor is a grave matter that must be addressed.

In Sovereign Grace Ministries, here is how we have sought to apply this passage in relation to the pastors of our local churches.

We believe that the biblical requirement for a pastor is not flawless character but mature character. We are all progressively growing in godliness. A pastor who recognizes an area of immaturity, and takes specific action towards change, demonstrates close attention to his life and doctrine. Likewise, if a particular instance of non-disqualifying sin occurs in a pastor's life, but he genuinely repents before God and the appropriate individuals, this also honors the passage we are examining.

There are, of course, some sins that are particularly serious, both in the effect they have upon others and what they reveal about the condition of the heart. Even a single instance of such sins--sexual immorality, financial impropriety, violent behavior, etc.--would automatically disqualify a man from pastoral ministry. Beyond such grave instances of sin, however, a serious ongoing pattern of disobedient deviation from biblical requirements in the life of a pastor can also be disqualifying.

For example, a single lustful look, quickly confessed and repented of is part of growing maturity. However, a pattern of pornography could be disqualifying. Similarly, an isolated instance of lying speech, promptly brought into the light, is evidence of ongoing sanctification. Repeated examples of deceptive behavior, on the other hand, call into question a pastor's trustworthiness. Likewise, an outburst of irritation, immediately regretted and repented of is proof the Holy Spirit is at work. But a reputation for anger is not consistent with the biblical requirements for a pastor.

Where such patterns of sin exist, we believe that genuine care for a pastor and church involves a corrective process. Of course, this must be administered with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Occasions requiring the loving confrontation of a pastor in sin have been among the most difficult and painful of my ministry experience. But in the end, the corrective process has normally produced God-glorifying and fruitful outcomes in a pastor's life, family, and church.

These are powerful words for those of us who pastor to not just ponder, but to apply.

In His Grace,


Wade

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

so how does encouraging the consumption of alcohol fit into this 'high standard' that the Bible calls for???
Seems like you would insist on abstinence of mind-altering drugs in order to be 'fully sober before the Lord'.

Scotte Hodel said...

That first comment demonstrates why "godly character" is given as the fundamental qualification: it's too simple to reduce good character to mere obedience to some moral checklist that may or may not be transcultural - or, for that matter, that may or may not be Biblical.

Peter spoke of grace in Acts 15: "Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."

Similarly, when James said that faith without deeds is dead, the primary (sole?) issue he addressed regarding what deeds to do is to control the tongue. (If he wrote today, he might add control of blogging ...)

Years ago I heard Chuck Swindoll give a sermon on the requirements that must be met by a pastor's wife. I wish I had the full list. The only example I can remember is that "she must be plain, but stunning."

The point is that a myopic insistence on each individual rule that we hold dear results in painting a circle that is smaller and smaller until not even we ourselves fit inside of it. I think that Jesus did much of what he did on the Sabbath just to deliberately step outside of that circle.

jasonk said...

Anon,
Seems like there is a verse in that Bible that says it is not what goes into a person's body, but what comes out of him that indicates the depth of his or her character.
Check it out.

Pamela G said...

Matthew 15

1Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,

2Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

3But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

4For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

5But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

6And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

7Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

10And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

11Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

The context is dealing with teachine doctrine that did not come from God but from men.

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Anonymous,

If you are referring to Jesus and His encouragement of the consumption of alcohol by turning the water into wine you will have to take that up with Him.

As you know, I believe the Biblical qualification that a pastor is not to be 'given to much wine' is the character standard.

I personally abstain for the sake of my weaker brothers, but don't find that commandment to be in the Bible for others.

It's an issue of conscience. The commandment is to abstain from drunkenness.

Kevin Bussey said...

Thanks for sharing this Wade.

I love Bill Hybels book "Who are you when no one is looking." It is all about Godly Character.

Alycelee said...

Looking for balance in the life of those in ministry and remembering that God is developing His character in our lives while giving grace to keep us from falling completely off track.
One of the points you made that I wholehearted agree with was the responsibility we have to the 'one anothers'. God can and does use the intimacies of our relationships with one another through Christ to help keep us on track. This is, after all real Agape. For the scripture says. "Herein we know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren." This kind of love has hands and feet, real expressions of real affection and brings us to the reality that 'others are more important than ourselves'. That being the case, if that kind of connection really exist, If my brother fails-I fail, so I understand I can't say to a part of the body-I have no need of you.

Yes-I desire for my mind to be altered-to have the mind of Christ.

Wade-thank you once again. I love your sweet spirit.

Jim Sadler said...

Wade, Don't you think that statement of yours to anonymous;"If you are referring to Jesus and His encouragement of the consumption of alcohol by turning the water into wine you will have to take that up with Him" was sarcasm in the n'th degree? I would not argue with a studious fellow like you but if I were to be wrong I would rather be wrong encouraging Christians to abstain from alcohol that I would to tell them a little won't hurt. For you see a lot of littles sometimes is cause for a weaker brother to drown in that privelege.

volfan007 said...

i believe that pastors certainly ought to be more godly and mature in thier faith than the congregation. i believe that we ought to fit the qualifications as set forth in timothy and titus. i beleive that there are definitely lines that would disqualify a pastor if he stepped over it.

but, we also need to keep in mind that pastors are men, and only men. they are flesh and blood people who fail to be all that the Lord wants them to be more often than most pastors would like to admit. and, in reality, if people lived with us for two weeks, or two months, and saw us in the bad times as well as in the good, then there would be no pastors. nobody could measure up to what most people expect out of a pastor. nobody. and, before some of you start saying my pastor would measure up....i've been with preachers when their members were not around and when their members were around...and some of them...a lot of them...act just a little better..even a lot better... when their members are nearby.

that being said, i know a lot of wonderful, men of God who truly love the Lord and try to live for Jesus and minister to thier people. but, alas, they live in these fleshly bodies in this present world system.....and like peter and thomas and paul, they fail at times. they sin at times. they just dont always measure up.

laypeople, do you always measure up?


david

Alycelee said...

David, I don't see a different standard.
There is one plumline. Jesus Christ and held against that line, we all fall short.

While the scripture does talk specifically about qualifications for those in ministry and held to Biblical standards, It also talks about comparing yourselves among yourselves, proving we are unwise.

Yes, my standard is no less than yours. It is Jesus Christ. And without His grace an impossibility. :)

Patrick Powell said...

Wade, I am a pastor in Alabama, and I have enjoyed reading your blog in recent months. The issue of integrity and character among leaders is important, especially in our day when outward appearance and image seems to capture and occupy the minds of so many people. If we expect those under our leadership to move from the superficial to the substantial then we must not only provide instruction through our words but inspiration through our lives.

Anonymous said...

Pastor David,

I understand your point, in some ways I agree, yet...

It seems that some pastors want it both ways. They like the 'spiritual authority' of the role of the pastor, yet don't necesarily want the 'spiritual responsibility'.

I'm not a pastor, but I am a teacher. I have my own awesome and fearful God-given responsibility in my role. Yet, I sin. Am I disqualified?

I believe I am if I have patterns of sin that I refuse (not by words but by action) to put away. Bless God that He has given me brothers to ask me pointed questions. It's weird how I can rationalize something that a godly brother can see clearly as sin.

This brings me to a question I have: Have we so built up the role of pastor in the corporate model that we no longer look to them as brothers ?

Mike

Alycelee said...

Good point Mike.

Bob Cleveland said...

Mike: Good question, but it's a two way street. The pastor has to see himself as being a brother to his flock, too.

And it needs to be more than just words. How many pastors talk to their member(s) when they have a problem, as contrasted to how many would talk only to another pastor?

The preacher who did more to educate me in the faith than any other was a RPCES pastor in Muncie, Indiana, with whom I had lunch on several occasions. He shared his heart and his problems and it was a wonderful time. For both of us, I think.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

My family are members of a megachurch. The pastor emeritus of this church had a strong belief that he could not be friends with the flock. He could be friendly, but not have real friends, what I would define as brothers. This attitude has been adapted by the staff, and I have heard this approach taken before in churches when I was younger. To be fair, the current pastor seems to be much more approachable, but the very organization of the megachurch seems to preclude any substantial relationships with non-staff members.

I call the pastors Brother, but in practice they are not.

Mike

Bob Cleveland said...

Mike: I understand.

We're not in a megachurch, but we do have 1000 there most Sundays. Our Pastor is exceedingly approachable.

A pastor can be a brother to the person he's around. He can be approachable to those who do approach him. He cannot be around everybody, nor can everybody approach him, and the flock must accept that reality.

It has more to do with how he conducts himself around those he IS around, I think.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

I like how you put that.

It has more to do with how he conducts himself around those he IS around, I think.

Mike

B Nettles said...

Wade,
Thanks for pointing out CJ's perspective. He can be very wise for such a funny man. ;)

Scotte,
Thanks for your comment. It calmed me down and has a good perspective. I almost went ballistic when I read the first comment. Why do some people think that alcohol is the biggest character issue there is? He didn't specifically state that, but then why was that the first thing on his mind when the question of character came up?

Jim,
I don't think Wade was being sarcastic, but simply applying a Biblical situation to a broad, undefined hypothetical situation. Or do you think that anonymous #1 meant to attack Wade personally? Maybe he was just trolling to try to get Wade to display that famous, out-of-control temper of his :) (I'm being facetious, not sarcastic. Sarcasm involves belittling someone; anyone who has been around here knows Wade displays, to us anyway, more patience that I thought existed on Earth.)

If we're going to ignore Scotte's idea, I have something I'd like to add to the character list: wealth. Jesus said you can't serve God and mammon, which we take culturally to mean wealth. Therefore, obviously, the pastor, who should be an example of character, should totally abstain from wealth. Now the question remains, is wealth relative? $35000/yr in Romania is wealth. $35000/yr in NYC isn't. Is wealth anything above living day-to-day? Should a pastor be able to send his children to private schools. Have more than 1 car. Have a car. Own his own home rather than stay in the parsonage. In a previous generation, these were the "character questions" but were they legitimate even then? On the other hand, maybe wealth IS a character problem for some pastors, but you never hear SB pastors preaching total abstinence, do you?

If we check-list character, we all fail somewhere. And guess what: I don't like "your" list! You wouldn't like mine either. CJM's approach (getting back to Wade's post, finally) brings some sanity and forces us to ask, "Is Biblical grace in action here, or is it being abused and rejected?"

The person of Godly character seeks grace, repentence, reformation and growth. The person without character avoids repentence and restoration and finds destruction.

Robert Hutchinson said...

anyone, even a demon possessed man, can speak the truth of God.

"What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" Mark 1:24 (NIV)

but no church in their right mind (pun intended) would call this guy as pastor. :) Jesus himself silenced him though he spoke truth.

yeah, the fundamental difference isn't what pastors say it's what they do. better to be a doer of the word than a proclaimer of the word.

the Word said, "Repent..." Matt 4:17 (NIV)

may God give us the will and the humility to stay turned and not turn again.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 1 Cor 10:12 (NKJV)

robert

Wade Burleson said...

Jim,

I was not being sarcastic to anonymous. I was being serious.

Steve A said...

It just kills me that we aren't to have wine (or, heaven sakes, beer!) anywhere in a pastor's life now when it was part of every meal for every man of God for centuries (for those without a taste for dysentery.) What's funnier, or spookier, is the love of luxury and/or gluttony in those who are so publically proud of their teetotaling of alchohol.

S.A.M. said...

Steve a,

I have consumed alcohol in the past. In my younger years, I drank myself into drunkenness. Since becoming a Christ follower, I have consumed alcohol. I do not, nor have I ever had any problem with addiction to alcohol. I do not condone nor do I object to anyone having a casual drink with a meal, or with friends out on the town, and it doesn't matter if they are a Christ follower or not. I now abstain from drinking any alcohol completely for two reasons:

1. I have met many men in the last six years that have a major addiction with alcohol. These men have or are trying to turn their lives around, deny their former selves and follow Christ. I pray for these men who struggle with staying sober every moment of every day. I pray for them often and encourage them to say sober and deepen their relationship with Jesus. I feel that I cannot be an encourager to these men and consciously even take a casual drink.

2. As a Christ follower, I am being watched. Not only by other believers but by non-believers also. I cannot in good conscience take a casual drink knowing that my witness is possibly being ruined. I was caught in that once. At a restaurant eating dinner, a young man and his fiancee asked me what the pendant around my neck was. As I set my beer down, I told them it was a Roman nail with a scripture verse on the back. I was embarrassed that my witness was tarnished.

I hear many non-believers quote the Bible about Jesus drinking wine with His disciples, and that casual drinking is ok. I hear many Christ followers say the same. I am no better than anyone else for my abstinence of alcohol. I have been convicted of this, which is why I deny the use of alcohol. The enemy uses anything to trip up believers and non-believers both. We cannot be a stumbling block to our brothers, and I choose not to be, especially in this area.

SAM

TruthOfActs said...

Wade,
You could not have picked a better time for this post (Qualifications for Ministry Is a Godly Character) after the sadness of the last one.

I have a dual motive of my comment for what pastors should not do by comments made by my pastor. I believe he and I are the only ones in our church that read your blog.
Pastor, you and I agreed that refraining from sex before marriage and remaining true is beneficial as we have lived our lives. But do the readers of Wade’s blog know that? On Wade’s post on Monday, you wrote, “Just a few thoughts from someone who has been there and ‘returned’.”

I knew what you were referring to, but since the subject was mostly about adultery what do you think the readers thought about you?

Pastor you preached a good sermon, “Everybody needs a Superman”, and that goes along with Mahoney’s point that pastors should provide a godly example. I believe the preacher should be looked up to.
After the entertainment and laughs wore off on your sermon of ‘anger’, what did people think of you raising your mother-in-law’s antique rocking chair to the ceiling and smashing it to pieces? One man said it made no sense at all unless she was in it.

The bottom line is like Mahaney said a pastor should have a mature character. Laundry should not be aired from the pulpit.
Rex Ray

Bob Cleveland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Cleveland said...

Rex: Should it be, here?

Jim Sadler said...

Wade, Sorry about that it must just be me because it came across to me as sarcasm but I was wrong so I apologize, you have your belief about that issue and I have mine. So be it.
Jim

Wade Burleson said...

No problem Jim.

I definitely respect your belief and would not desire you to change.

Debbie said...

Rex: I'm having a hard time understanding the point of your last post.

Jim: Again, maybe it's just be but I knew Wade was serious.

rms said...

Rex...

"One who has returned" refers to the fact that I was stuck in private sin for most of my life and God delivered me. I do not care what people think about that. If they love me or care about me they will ask me about what I meant.

The pastor does not need to need to "air his dirty laundry" but any pastor that is not authentic and transparent...is not fulfilling the God-given role of Shepherd to his hurting sheep.

Everyone loves the idea of redemption. Christians recognize the need for holiness

Something that irks me to no end is this:

We proclaim the need for Holiness.
We acknowlege the power of redemption. But no one wants to talk about the messy details of the process of becoming Christlike.

No we prefer to present a whitewashed view of the journey out of darkness into the light...and many people in our pews and pulpits are left wondering..has anyone been where I am? Can anyone walk with me through this mess to the other side?

A pastor that seeks to vicariously air dirty laundry...is immature.

But a pastor that will not honestly reflect on his own journey (messy details and all) and sometimes preach not just from the heart but from experience...is more so.

By the way...My sermon was entitled that Everybody needs a Savior (I used a quote from Superman as a example)

I still stand by that. But my Savior is Jesus. My heros are those who have been touched by his grace in radical ways and are honest/transparent/courageous enough to share those experiences...messy details and all.

Wade Burleson said...

rms,

Well said. This pastor agrees. Rex, you are blessed to have a pastor with such character and grace.

Anonymous said...

Isn't godly character a fundamental qualification for every Christian?

The expectations for Joe Xian should be somewhat similar to the expectations of Pastor Joe.

Alycelee said...

cpPerhaps it's just semantics, but I'm having difficulty with words like qualifications and expectations.
When HE calls-He qualifies. Both are of HIS doing.
Godly character is a result of God working supernaturally in my life, beginning with depositing the Holy Spirit inside me, giving me the desire to learn from Him, everything is Christ.

David wasn't 'qualified'-but He was called.
Saul was qualified-but not called.

I'm not attempting here to do away with the call to encourage men and women of God to join God in noble character. We are to encourage one another to live that way. I'm just saying, we need to remember WHO brings us there, WHO keeps us there, WHO makes the calling and He alone qualifies and disqualifies.

Perhaps I'm off base :) Just felt a little passion about calling so off I went.

Good evening all.

docjoc said...

All Pride is Sin...and maybe the first of all that follow.

We all have it...as Alexander Solzhenitsyn said "Pride collects and permeates the heart of man...like lard on a pig"

Great Pastors,Preachers and talented people are especially subject to it.

Pastor's words are carefully listened to and everyone hangs on his every thought.

His church grows, his fellow pastors and his denomination praise him.

He becomes proud of how much he is doing for God.

He is thought of as a super Christian, not the ordinary kind who sits in the pews every Sunday.

He is adored and he begins to adore himself.

Sooner than you might expect he thinks of all the great things he has done...His fovorite hymn that he secretly sings is "How Great I Am"

He thinks what a wonderful man God has working for him.

His ministry becomes all flesh...the Spirit departs.

The full fruit of his pride soon sprouts...into sin of every kind and his ministry dies.

B Nettles said...

anonymous,
I believe that all Christians are expected to be maturing toward a Godly character. The pastor should be more mature in that character than most others. Since the pastor/elder/bishop is expected to lead by true example, their character is necessarily examined in a specific way. On the other hand, those character traits are not restricted to pastors. We all should develop such character; pastors must have such character.

No, Godly character is not a qualification for all Christians, because none of us had it when we became Christians. God's gracious acts of salvation are the qualification. However, lack of maturing Godly character should disqualify a person from being a leader in the church. Being a pastor is a separate item from being a non-pastoring Christian and has higher daily expectations. That is why pastors/elders should not be new believers.

Alycelee, we also need to remember that God disqualifies, too. Remember what happened to Moses. That scares me, but then fear of God is a good thing, right?

TruthOfActs said...

Bob,
As Digger O’Dell would say, “What a revolting development that turned out to be!”
I thought I might get a thank you restoring honor to my pastor’s reputation of not being an adulterer, but I’m in a corner licking my wounds.

As for the other, Wade knows me to be a bulldog at times, but today I’m going to be a pussy cat. As you asked, “Should it be here?”

BTW, the chair deal was a big laugh of discussion at our pastor—deacon meeting. Our relationship is still in the honeymoon stage. For instance, once the pastor exclaimed, “I almost feel off” (stage 3 feet high) and one deacon yelled, “We couldn’t be so lucky!” That was more fun at out meeting.
Rex Ray

Bob Cleveland said...

Rex:

A church is blessed to have folks in the pews who will hold their pastor to the proper standards, in the proper way. We need more guys like you, I'm thinking.

I hasten to add I'm not a pastor, though, so it's easy for me to say. :)

Scotte Hodel said...

The topics discussed here illustrate the complexities of trying to codify Christian procedures in life. The simplicity of the phrase "godly character" is misleading; it's certainly not simple to define in any precise fashion.

On the other hand, there are those I meet who seem to exemplify that sense of character. They're not perfect, nor are they all pastors, but they are all worthy of emulation.

Maybe that's the point. "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." (Phil 3:17)

Baptist Theologue said...

Bill Nettles,

My son, Paul, is enjoying your physics class at Union. Your brother Tom was my favorite professor at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in the early 80s. I was sorry to hear about the death in your family. Wade, sorry to get off topic. I of course believe that godly character is important.

Mike Morris
(aka BT)

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons (not the only reason) that I do not drink alcohol is because when I was 12 years old, my grandfather and his best friend were both killed in a traffic accident caused by an 18 year old boy drinking and driving. Three years later this same young man was drinking again and killed a young woman. His actions caused 3 people to lose their life and 1 woman had to have a leg amputated because this young man was addicted to alcohol. The best way not to become an alcoholic is never to drink in the first place. I forgave this young man some 30 years ago, but it does not change the fact that I have not had a grandfather for the last 38 years. Those who think it is o.k. to social drink will often change their mind when they have a loved one killed by that individual who started his drinking habits only as a social drinker.
Gene Price
Gleason, Tennessee

Jim Paslay said...

Gene Price,

Powerful post and so true! I have often wondered why modern Christians defend social drinking as though it is something worth defending!

My family still suffers from the effects of an alcoholic grandfather and I have friends that are no longer alive because of a drunk driver. The bitter irony concerning alcohol is that on the night that Oklahomans passed liquor by the drink, I lost my high school summer league basketball coach because of a drunk driver! Bottomline, alcohol kills!

jack said...

*sigh*

Drinking wine is not a sin. Drunkenness is.

There is a difference.

I do not own guns, but neither do I condemn my brothers who do by linking their gun ownership with the damage gun-related crime does to American society and American families.

The bigger issue that is at stake in these discussions about alcohol and the believer is sufficiency of scripture.

Insisting on abstinence from drink as a test of fellowship or qualification for leadership or evangelism goes beyond scriptural examples (set by Jesus Christ no less).

Once you accept one extra-biblical qualification as "gospel" others are sure to follow. That is why we are now seeing qualified missionaries driven from or refused entry to the field.

Bob Cleveland said...

I just find it interesting that when there's a bad accident involving drinking and driving, nobody ever says we should stop driving.

Wine is mentioned in the Bible. Cars aren't.

Hmmm..... let the pontificating begin.

volfan007 said...

are we gonna get into the drinking debate again? do i need to get granpappy up from his nap? :)

drinking the undiluted, fermented stuff is foolish...unwise... according to the bible. drunkeness is a sin according to the bible.

so, drinking the hard stuff without getting drunk is foolish...unwise. getting high, or drunk, on alcohol is sin.

granpappy just woke up. he wants to add some moonshine to my sweet tea. stop it, granpappy. go throw that moonshine out. we aint going back to drinkin' just yet.

david

Anonymous said...

Jack and Bob,
Read the following and guess who wrote it. It is a direct quote.

Proverbs 20:1 and read with me.

"Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."

Now, these scriptures tell us I believe plainly and clearly that the Christians position so far as beverage alcohol is concerned is total abstinence. The Bible says we're not to look upon it, we're not to desire it when it is fermented.

Now, I told you that I believe alcohol is America's most dangerous drug. Why? Because of it's broad acceptance, because of it's easy accessibility and because of the terrifying effects that it has had, is having and will have on our Americans and on our personal lives.

Now, we're being told from every side that we ought to drink. We reminded you this morning that the advertisers spend six hundred million dollars a year, every year to tell us that sophisticated advertisement that we ought to drink it. They have latched themselves on to everything from the Olympics to the special events here in the city of Memphis, Tennessee and everything now is just permeated with this idea alcohol and drinking alcohol. When we sit down in a restaurant that's the first thing we're asked, if we'd like a drink. If we tell them no, we don't drink they look at us like we have sinned against them.

I WAS telling one congregation this morning, I don't know which one it was that I was sitting in a restaurant and the door opened going back into the kitchen and there was a sign posted on the inside of the door and it said wine drinkers are bigger tippers. Now, how's that for a smart entrepreneur selling wine, just telling that boy, that girl who waits upon your table, you can get this man to drink wine you will be a bigger tipper."
End of quote.

The following was written by Dr. Rogers of Bellevue in Memphis. It is a direct quote. I think Dr. Rogers was fond of the Scriptures in a way that he was willing to step out in 1979 and take a stand for those Scriptures. You have just gone on record pubicly stating that you disagree with Dr. Rogers.
Also, have either of you guys lost a loved one due to alcohol? If you have, then you would probably be not be on a blog defending those who drink alchol.
Gene Price
Gleason, Tennessee

Jim Sadler said...

Bob Cleveland; What were you drinking when you made that statement about alcohol, cars and the Bible??? Actually that statement of yours does not even rate an answer. Every alcoholic was once a social drinker! I am baffled by the condoning of alcohol consumption in the Baptist realm??

Jim Sadler said...

Gene Price; While I was replying to Bob Cleveland you came along and said it so much better than I. Thank you, you are so right.

Anonymous said...

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."

"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come."

His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

They did so,and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

volfan007 said...

anon,

we all know and believe that scripture....so, whats your point?

david

Nomad said...

I must admit that it amuses me to see a blog topic on Godly Character be reduced to a comment string on drinking.

Character is so much more than that, can't you see it?

Character is how you answer your wife or kids who are upset at you for some stupid or insensitive thing you did.

Character is writing down the actual miles traveled; not rounding up to the nearest lie.

Character is switching the channel on cable TV when you are home alone and something unwholesome comes on.

Character is admitting that you lied, or cheated or whatever; not just the apparent absence of lying or cheating in your life.

Character is stopping eating before dessert, if you are full.

Character is loving that really stinky person (stinky either physically or morally).

Character is being gracious with a compliment.

Character is providing appropriate gratitude to those who have given.

Character is more than just good manners; it is who you really are.

God forbid that "who we are" gets in people's way of seeing who Jesus is.

Anonymous said...

Nah, character is simply about those drunkards.

Maybe porn too.

Let me see, what else do I not do?

volfan007 said...

nomad,

i would agree with you about what you said about character....and drinking would be a part of it as well.

david

Wade Burleson said...

I find it odd that in a post about character being the fundamental qualification for pastoral ministry that the discussion is about wine or beer. I am not prepared to say, nor will I ever say, that those Christians who drink wine or beer have no character.

I will say that those who get drunk have deficient character. Amen to Nomad and Bob.

In His Grace,

wade

Wade Burleson said...

And by the way, I have no problem personally abstaining, and make that my practice. My point is that poor character is more seen out of the excess of any activity, and good character is seen in moderation, self-control, gentleness, etc . . .

Alycelee said...

Nomad,
Interestingly, your list contains proactives. I like that, taking an active look at WHAT we do and assessing the potential flaws there, with options of repenting quickly. (WE-each one of us inwardly with Gods help)
The drinking issue is a 'thou shalt not'
Now, when I say that, I'm not advocating to anyone 'TO DRINK", or drink responsibility or any such thing. For I'm not the 'drink police' nor do I actively work as the deputy of the Holy Spirit, dealing with the inner most part of the believers hearts in the act of sanctification. Not my job to make list for other people.

God calls us to a higher law, not a list of laws, but ones written on our hearts. I KNOW when I sin, because God is gracious to discipline me and correct me because I've been adopted, He is my Father.

I also know the problems associated with drinking. I'm not ignorant about such thiings. I don't drink - I have liberty to drink a glass of wine with dinner-however I don't.

It does bother me when people come and attack Wade as one who 'encourages' alcohol consumption. He has never done that and to say that is, I believe, not only untrue-but I believe might come in many cases with an agenda to discredit him, his ministry and influence.

We must allow the Holy Spirit to work in the minds and hearts of men and women. He is capable, He is our teacher, He is truth and I believe more concerned with the hearts of men and what's on the inside, than if our brother had a glass of wine with his wife at dinner.

Because if WE are the author of list, the list will go on and on and on and we get farther and farther from God in the process.
Agape

Kevin Bussey said...

Nomad,

That will preach!

Anonymous said...

I thought this post was entitled: Fundamental Qualifications Pastoral Ministry is a Godly Character.In staying with the topic of the post: read the following words of the late Dr. Roger of Memphis,Tennessee.
I quote:
"Now, God says to Aaron, when you go into the tabernacle as my priest to minister, if you go in there drinking wine and strong drink here by the context you can tell he's talking about fermented wine, God saith I will kill you, I'll strike you dead Aaron. If you try to minister my holy things while you drink wine or strong drink. You say, well, what does that have to do with me? That was Aaron, he was a priest. Friend, if you know anything about your new testament, you know that everyone of us are priest. We are priest of God and of Christ and he has made to us a kingdom of priest and would Aaron have any lesser standards in that old testament than I would have in this testament and you say, but where, where do you minister as a priest? I have a temple, do you know where that temple is? What?

Know ye not that your body. Is the temple of the Holy Ghost which you have of God, this is the temple and I am the priest and I'm not going to defile my temple and I'm not going to bring the curse of death upon me. The Old Testament prophet's son did not only against drinking it, but against selling it and serving it.

Habakkuk chapter two and verse fifteen, woe unto him that giveth his neighbor to drink that puttest thy bottle to him that makest him drunken. There is a curse, a woe of almighty God upon it. Oh, there are many reasons for total abstinence, but let me give you the great, the, the best reason, let me give you the highest reason.

Now, many of you are going to argue with me and you're going to say well, I don't agree with your logic here. Or, I'd only accept your word study there. Well, let me see what you're going to do with this verse sir? Turn to Romans chapter fourteen if you will for just a moment and look with me in verse twenty one.

Now, in Romans chapter fourteen and verse twenty one, the Bible is telling us how we ought to live a life of love. Romans chapter fourteen and verse twenty one. Here's what the great apostle Paul had Lo say, are you ready for it? It is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth or is offended or is made weak. Now, that is the highest reason. The law of love, the law of love, tis good neither to drink wine, nor to eat flesh nor anything to, neither, it is good neither to eat flesh rath nor to drink wine nor to drink wine or anything whereby thy brother stumbeleth or is offended or is made weak. You see, the great question is not will it hurt me? So many people say well, you know, I can take a little drink, it doesn't hurt me and to be honest with you, you may be one of those rare individuals that it will not hurt. I mean, you may be able to get away with it. You say I have a few cans of beer in the refrigerator, it relaxes me when I come home. I like a glass of wine with a good meal, it doesn't hurt me. Frankly, I've never had a desire to drink too much so this doesn't pertain to me. That's where Mr., you're dead wrong, you're dead wrong. Moderation is not the answer to the liquor problem, in most causes it's the cause of it, in most cases it's the cause of it, don't you realize that? Don't you realize it is the moderate drinker that encourages other people to drink, don't you realize the fact that you can I hold your liquor may cause someone else who can't hold his to stumble, don't you realize that?

If a drat boy says mommy, is it alright to drink and she says no. Well, pastor drinks, pastor drinks, so if pastor drinks maybe it's alright and that little boy drinks and he becomes an alcoholic. It's good neither to eat nor to drink wine nor an thing where by thy brother stumbles or is offended. You see, whether it hurts you or not is not even the question, how selfish can you be? Does it hurt me? No, that's now the question. Is it going to cause somebody else to stumble? You see, if everybody who drank got stone drunk then maybe we could do something about it. It is that man of distinction, it is that person who with etiquette and culture drinks on those social occasions, it is that person who keeps that bottle of beer that can of beer, that's the one, that's the one who encourages the other person to drink." Unquote.

Well, said by the late Dr. Rogers.
Gene Price
Gleason, Tennessee

Anonymous said...

Gene - Do you have all of Dr. Rogers' quotes about all topics at your fingertips? Yikes!

I appreciate Dr. Rogers too. I loved Dr. Rogers. But he was not god and he was not right about everything he interpreted from scripture...just in case you didn't know.

You want an example? Well, that's tough because like I said, he was awesome and clearly a blessed pastor but he if I had to come up with one thing....hmmmmm...let me think...

Oh! I got one. He believed the salvation work of God was synergistic, meaning that it depended on God and man working together. Mostly God mind you, but ultimately man had the final authority.

In my view, and with a proper exegesis of scripture, he was wrong about this. I still admire him and respect him...and I sure do miss him and that voice.

So what am I saying? Well, just be careful in believing something just based on who says it (in your case, Dr. Rogers). In this example I have given, you would find yourself being completely against any alcoholic drink of any knid at any time and for any reason while at the same time bringing glory to yourself (at least partly) for your salvation.

That should get us off the alcohol topic. :)

SL1M

volfan007 said...

anon sl,

tsk...tsk...tsk...

dr. adrian rogers was dead on with this statement quoted by gene price. and, you are wrong, sir, about your assesment of dr. roger's view of salvation as well. i have heard him many times say that salvation was a work of God in the human heart. he would give the glory to God for his salvation and for anyones salvation. so, please dont try to make him look like he was saying that man had to do any "works" to get saved, or that salvation was not completely a work of God.

besides, dr. rogers just preached the truth that man had to respond in repentance and faith in order to be saved. he didnt beleive all this teaching of man's philosophy that someone had to get saved so that he could get saved, fatalistic stuff. he preached what the bible teaches....that God calls and convicts, and man must respond in faith...calling on the Lord.....in order to be saved. man does no work to get saved....but he must respond in faith, humble, repentant faith, to God's call.

i cant help but wonder why baptist preachers would argue for drinking whiskey. i just cant figure that one out. why its so important to them.

david

Anonymous said...

Volfan - Read your post again. You are walking all over yourself with your statements.

It's difficult for you to say that your salvation is all of God. And that, sir, is what I can't understand...even more than why anyone would or would not drink wine. I love giving Him all of the glory...for it is truly His.

If you are saved, one of the elect, then you were chosen before the foundation of the world...before you did anything...good or bad! Let the glory flow to where it belongs.

Thanks.

Maybe that will get us off alcohol...no pun intended. :)

SL1M

TruthOfActs said...

Not so fast SLIM,
I want to be counted.
I’m not near so proud of never having one drink as I am of a drunk killing himself and putting my mother in a wheelchair the rest of her life.

I think more of a pastor’s character who preaches abstinence than moderation.
Rex Ray

volfan007 said...

anon sl,

i understand that you cant understand what i'm saying. i understand that a lot of five pointers cant understand how we give the glory to God and to God alone for our salvation, and yet reject the fatalistic, regeneration before salvation view. but alas, my bro., i believe with all my heart that salvation is all of God and for His glory.

david

ps. i dont think the Lord wants me to be foolish and drink the hard stuff either. :)

Jim Paslay said...

I think it is sad that we are even discussing the suggestion that it is okay to drink socially with all the baggage that comes with drinking in America.

Mark it down, this is one Baptist preacher who does not advocate the drinking of alcohol. Let me tell you another thing I have found within my own congregation. The ones who have no problem with social drinking have no problem with social gambling. Any of you preachers want to justify the scourge of gambling on our society.

I preach every Sunday before New Year's on the dangers of alcohol and how it has destroyed marriages, contributed to abuse in the home, and causes family members to enable their problem drinking relative. I'm sorry, but when you weigh social drinking on the moral scales, they tip on the side of wrong.

Wade Burleson said...

Gentlemen,

I would encourage everyone to focus on the topic and quit sidetracking the comment stream.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade: Since my last comment was a shorty, I'll make up for it here (I think).

First, it's my hope that a preacher will preach the bible, not this or that topic. I like CB's definition .. make the topic of the scripture the topic of the sermon. That includes all the bible says about all it says something about. But not what it doesn't.

Second, the bible says that those who continue to dwell in sin are in for big trouble. The picture that my mentor painted for me 40 years ago was a man in a boat in a lake in a storm. His only hope is to pick out ONE landmark and row for it. Not a general direction, not an area, but a tree. Or a hill. Or a building. But ONE landmark.

He challenged me to think about what my landmark was. What was it .. a Godly life of service to Jesus, that I was constantly rowing toward? Or was it what the world had to offer, smoothed over by some sort of mouthed assurance regarding faith? I recall the day I decided.

In fact, shortly thereafter, I read Matthew 19:29 and I told God, riding along in the car, that's what I wanted.

He has honored His incredible promise.

That's what I expect from my pastor.

Wade Burleson said...

Great comment Bob.

Thanks for getting everyone back on track.

Stephen Pruett said...

Godly character with regard to pride and love of money and power seems especially difficult for some pastors. Just as one example, how often do pastors feel the "call of God" to move to a smaller, poorer church? I find it difficult to imagine that God, not caring at all about riches or the pastor's prestige, does not intend to move many to smaller churches. I try not to be cynical about this, but just wonder if the spiritual perceptiveness of most pastors is much clearer when the call is viewed as an advancement? Please understand, I am not claiming that laymen (including me) do not also have these problems. However, shouldn't we expect our pastors to operate at a higher level. Are there justifications for the pattern of moving up that I have observed, or is it less common than I think?

jack said...

I can think of one well-known pastor who did (choose a smaller church). Dr. Ed Young left the largest church in South Carolina to pastor a smaller church in Houston. Under his leadership it grew into the largest SBC church in Houston and one of the largest churches there.

jack said...

I fear we are veering off-topic again.. –so here are some comments I hope directly address the topic and continues Wade’s thoughtful conversation:

Above all, to me a Pastor with a godly character has a greater passion for reaching the lost than serving the saved --- and is able to convey that mission to the flock he shepherds.

My current Pastor has – and articulates – that vision.

As a result I view our church completely differently than any I have any church of which I have been a member before.

If a message or a service does not touch me – then I know it was meant for someone else.

If I have difficulty finding a seat or a parking place – then I know that we are reaching others.

Not terribly revolutionary viewpoints for most on this board I imagine – but it is for me – and I owe it to a pastor who regularly and consistently “vision casts” from the pulpit. –And I thank God that he does.

Anonymous said...

William Barclay wrote: "A man's message will always be heard in context with character." If we want to influence others, our testimony must be backed up by genuine lives. "Live such good lives among the pagans," Peter wrote, "that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God" (I Peter 2:12)
Gene Price
Gleason, Tennessee