Paul teaches that the position of church leadership requires the most godly and motivated men be chosen for this high honor.
3:1 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 go to the Book of 1 Timothy. We generally, as a church, go right through books of the Bible and we feel it keeps us honest with the Scriptures and it also forces us to deal with topics that perhaps otherwise, we might not. And we’re in the Book of 1 Timothy, actually a series on 1 and 2 Timothy that’ll go about five or six months. And what we’re dealing with tonight is the – my job, really. Usually, I talk about what you’re supposed to do. Tonight, I’m gonna talk about what I’m supposed to do, so I guess you’re off the hook. I’ll yell at myself for an hour and then we’ll go home. The Bible gives me my job description as an elder, a pastor in this church and so we’ll talk about that tonight, and the importance of it. So I’ll pray for us and we’ll get going.
Father God, thank you for a chance to study. I pray that you would bless, as Luke indicated, the teaching of your Word. I pray that you would give me words to speak, that you would give people ears to hear. God, it’s our prayer that we would be a church that would be very much in love with and in close pursuit of you and those things that you are about on the earth. I pray that our leaders, Lord God, would be qualified to do the things to which you have appointed them and I pray that you would give us, as leaders, the grace to live up to that which you have called us. We seek this, we ask this and we trust in this in Jesus’ good name, amen.
As we get into it tonight – start with this premise – that most problems in most churches are directly traceable to the failure of the leadership in the church. Meaning if people in a church have bad theology, it’s because the pastors aren’t teaching very well or they’re teaching the wrong thing. If there is great gossip and division, it is because the leaders in the church have not been strong in keeping an eye on things and making sure that everybody’s loving each other and doing what they’re supposed to be doing. And I would submit to you that one of the greatest crises in the church today is a vacuum in leadership. Three and-a-half thousand churches this year will die and close in the United States of America and though it’s not a very sexy topic for many of you, this issue of who leads the church and how they become prepared and who, ultimately, is qualified to be a leader, a pastor in the church, is incredibly, incredibly important. When we’re talking about the pastor, there’s different words that are used in the Bible. Bishop, overseer, shepherd, pastor, elder – those are all different synonyms being used of the same individual throughout the New Testament. That’s my job, an elder, pastor, leader, teacher in the church.
As we get into it tonight, as well, it’s just very interesting to me because we started Mars Hill with about 12 people in my living room seven years ago. We’ve obviously grown since then. It’s gone pretty good and as we studied, it was just a handful of families, a few good families. We looked at the Book of 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, trying to figure out what’s God’s blueprint for the church. We don’t want to take all of our cues from – just from management or business or from pragmatism – we really want to see how God has organized the church and we tried to build the church based upon what the New Testament teaches and as we studied 1 Timothy, I wanted to share a process with you that I saw emerge, even in that first Bible study that Mars Hill came out of, and that’s that at the foundation of everything, the bedrock is Jesus Christ. Jesus is God. He has lived without sin. He has died for our sin. He has risen; he has conquered sin and death. Salvation is available through him alone. Paul keeps coming back to Jesus – and particularly in the opening chapter of 1 Timothy, he really emphasizes who Jesus is and what he’s done. Paul then moves into this issue of what he calls sound doctrine, having proper understanding of Jesus from the Bible. And the word sound there, in the Greek text that Paul used for us earlier on in Timothy, refers to health. That if you understand who Jesus is, then you start to think, theologically and that results in a healthy life. Healthy leaders, healthy people, healthy families, healthy church. The result of that, then, is that out of sound doctrine, healthy doctrine, comes healthy people and they become qualified leaders in the church, elders and deacons. Next week, we’re dealing with deacons. This week, we’re dealing with elders or pastors, the senior leadership in the church.
And really, according to Timothy – we’ll spend 1 Timothy to the end of 2 and Chapter 3 is about qualified leaders and then in Chapters 4 and forward, it really deals with two issues: How the leaders in the church are to promote holiness. Through their conduct, in their instruction and their example and also how they are to oppose error. Dealing with heretics, people that are in sin, church discipline. Those kinds of issues. And so as we get into it, the place we’re really at now is what is a qualified leader in God’s church. And for me, this is an incredibly serious issue because of the importance of what we’re doing. When you think about it, this building is worth maybe $5 million once we get construction done in a few weeks. We also own another building a couple miles from here that’s worth about a million dollars that was gifted to us. We’re paying this building off, we don’t own it free and clear. If you’d like to pay it off, welcome to Mars Hill. So, we – we’re responsible for maybe $6 million in real estate. In addition, if you just total up all of our assets, our furnishings and sound, light, video, computers, all of that. I don’t know what it is, maybe a million dollars of capital. This year, we will spend about $2 million to run this church. We’re also helping plant another, a great number of other churches. In addition, a stack of books and magazine articles and media attention has been done on our church. Lots of people track what we do. Just this sermon that I’m preaching right now, some – probably more than 10,000 people will download this sermon from all over the world in the coming weeks. What we do is very important. Lots of people’s lives are implicated in it. You are giving that money, prayer, time, attention. You’re serving if you care anything about this church, really everything comes down to – can you trust the leadership? Is the leadership qualified? Are you putting your time and your money and your prayer into a church that is not going to do something stupid and defame the name of Jesus Christ or go off on some crazy thing?
And so this issue of leadership is incredibly important to me and I speak on behalf of the elders today when I say that I think the most important thing to remember, as we get into all of this, is that to be a good pastor, you first have to be a good Christian. Okay? There’s a lot of pastors that aren’t good Christians. You need to start being a good Christian. I know some of you aspire to be leaders in the church, elders and deacons. Start by being a good Christian, start there. And from there, the best Christians then get put into the positions of influence and leadership in the church. And so what we’re gonna look at today is my job description. We’ll start in 1 Timothy 2:11. We’ll just read and then I’m gonna go through and I’m gonna talk about the different qualifications for a leader and for those of you that don’t think you’re gonna be a pastor at some point, it’s okay, you can still look at these as distinctives of a healthy, mature Christian life because that’s all that it is. Good pastors are good Christians. Another way of looking at this text to apply it to you is to say, “Well, this would be a good checklist for my own life and growth and health and this would help me evaluate myself, spiritually. It starts off in Chapter 2, Verse 11. We dealt with it last week. If you’re watching the Superbowl and sinning against the Lord, you can download it off of marshillchurch.org. You shoulda been here with me and not watching that Miss Jackson if you’re nasty. That’s what you shoulda been doing. So, we’ll start in Chapter 2, Verse 11. The first couple verses, we dealt with last week.
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” We dealt with that. The senior leadership is to be men. “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,” or an elder or a pastor, “he desires a noble task.” Here’s the qualifications. “Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”
Okay, those are the qualifications for a pastor or an elder. I’m gonna break those down into four categories. How a pastor is to relate to God, their wife, their children and other people, generally in the community, especially non-Christians. And in saying this, you’ll notice that the qualifications for a pastor are extremely high. It doesn’t say anything about Bible College, seminary, denominations or ordination. It has primarily to do with character. Character. Character matters very, very much because everything between you and me, truly, is based upon trust and trust is based upon character. Character leads to trust; trust leads to leadership. At the bottom of leadership is character. It truly is. A guy can be a great preacher. He can be a great singer. It can be a person who’ s a winsome ability to organize and to execute plans but if they don’t have character, it’ll come apart, eventually. It always does. And so, again, your life is gonna be the best place to train you if you aspire to leadership. I’m not denigrating theological education, Seminary and Bible College and such, but the best place to get trained to serve God for ministry is through living your life with Christ as a good Christian.
The four categories. Relationship to God, self, wife, children, others. We’re gonna look at all of those. First one is the leader’s relationship to God and I’ll break these down. Paul says, first of all, that the leader must be a man. This means a masculine leader, okay? This is important. Sixty percent of Christians in the United States of America are female. There are between 11 and 13 million more female Christians than male Christians in the United States of America. The least likely people to go to church are young men. Usually, they go to church until they graduate from high school; then their mom can’t make them go anymore and they don’t show up again until they get married and then their wife makes them go. So between their wife and their mother, they break all the Ten Commandments as frequently as they possibly can and one of the most important things a church can do is to move into the community and seek out the young men. That is one of the highest values here at Mars Hill. Ninety-three percent of pastors, nationally, are male. The largest, most successful and healthy churches have men in them that are able to attract other men to do that. What we’re looking for is William Wallace, not Richard Simmons. That’s what we’re looking for, okay? If one of you guys comes into my office wearing lemon yellow chiffon and skips in to tell me that the Lord’s called you into ministry, I’ll ask you where, because it ain’t here, that’s for sure. We’re looking for guys. That’s what we’re looking for, right? Red meat, one eyebrow, men. That’s what we’re looking for. So first thing, you gotta be a guy. You gotta be a strong guy. Guy with a little courage. Guy with a little ability, a little strength; that’s what we’re looking for, a masculine man.
Now, the next one is above reproach. This is an overarching qualification. There are a lot of things that a pastor could do that are totally stupid and could disqualify them. The Bible can’t list them all because we’d have to take every tree on planet earth and turn it into a book just to list all the stupid things that a man can do. So this is the junk drawer for sin, right? I know one pastor, he would smoke weed with the kids in his youth group. Now, it doesn’t say, “Don’t smoke weed with the kids in the youth group,” but it does say, “Be above reproach,” right? Which, that counts. It’s no character defect, right? You know what I’m saying? I remember in college, there was one guy – he was an associate pastor of the church or a youth leader or something and he liked to streak, run around naked. You say, “Well, it’s not in there.” Yeah it is, it’s under, “idiot,” and also “above reproach.” You can’t have naked pastors running around, smoking joints with high school kids. Above reproach is a general thing and this, too, this includes a pastor’s health, right? The body’s a temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s all about self-control. If a guy doesn’t have his diet under control or he’s got everything out of control, there’s some defect in his character. Just something wrong with the guy. He just doesn’t have it together. That fits under “above reproach.” General category and he has to be able to teach. This is an effective communicator of the Bible. How many of you have been in a church and you swore that the pastor was channeling the teacher from Peanuts and it was just “Wacka wacka, wah,” and you’re sitting in the back just going, “Ugh.” You feel the life force leaving your body and you just slip into deep state of altered consciousness. You slept through most of the sermons. They have to be able to teach, okay? This doesn’t mean they have to be Billy Graham, but it does mean that some pastors are better one-on-one. Really good with counseling and mentoring. Others are good with small groups, asking questions, dialogue. I’m not good at that at all. Others are good in class settings. Lecturing, answering questions, and some are good in big groups, big rooms. Honestly, for me, I love the fact that Mars Hill’s big now. When it was small, I had the hardest time. If I yelled and screamed and ran around to seven people, it was like going to a Metallica show in a phone booth. It’s like it’s a little much, you know? We need to, you need to turn down. So, you gotta be able to teach and you gotta know – if you’re gonna be a pastor – you gotta know, well, what kind of group am I best suited for, but you gotta be able to teach, meaning you know the Bible, you’re a good theologian, you’re a good student. You gotta be a good student of the Bible if you wanna be a pastor. Lotta guys say, “I’m not a very good Christian. I need to go to Bible College or seminary so that I can get serious about the Lord.” Look, if you’re not serious with the Lord, don’t look at going to have theological education. If you don’t naturally love the Scriptures and study them just out of joy, don’t kid yourself. Don’t kid yourself. My father-in-law’s here. He’s a dear friend and a godly man. He’s been in ministry for 40 years. I remember him telling me a story. He met a pastor, because he and I, we always swap books. Pastors – real pastors – they’re freakish about books. They love books. They read everything they can get their hands on. That’s what a good person who’s able to teach does. And he remember telling – I remember him telling me a story about a pastor he met. He asked the guy, “So what are you reading?” The guy said, “Read?” You know, some pastors don’t read? You know some denominations rotate pastors every three years because that’s all the sermons the guy’s got? He’s got three years of sermons, man, and he’s like the Eagles. He’s still doing “Hotel California,” 25 years later. Just one hit wonder, right? Like, just keep playing that same old song and they just, they move around the country, just doing the same three years of sermons off the yellowed, dog-eared notes with all the illustrations from the Nixon era, you know? You gotta be able to teach. If you can’t teach, you shouldn’t be a pastor. Shouldn’t be a pastor.
In addition, not a new convert. All the commentaries stress what it means to be new. I’ll stress this. Convert. If you’re not on the team, you can’t lead the team. There are pastors that aren’t Christians. You ever look at a church and say, “That church is just jacked up? What’s wrong?” The pastor’s going to Hell. That’s what’s wrong. That explains everything. No wonder it stinks. That’s Judas. Judas is driving the car. No wonder it keeps going off the road. You gotta be a mature Christian. I still remember going to one of the largest denominations in the country. They brought me out to a conference to teach on how to get young people. Gen-Xers. Woo hoo. Yeah. So I went out and I’m doing my little shtick. There’s a couple hundred pastors in the room. They had a big room. I didn’t get to go in the big room; I got to go in the little room. I’m in the little room, lecturing. First thing I say is, “Jesus Christ is God. He rose from death; he forgives sinners; he loves people; and you know, you gotta have faith. You gotta trust in Jesus. The Gospel has the power of God and the salvation for everyone who believes.” And I go off on my whole rant and a guy about halfway through raises his hand, he says, “When do we get to get to the part where you talk about young people and how to get ‘em?” I said, “Dude I’m getting there but young people like Jesus, so you gotta get into Jesus and if you bring Jesus, then people will come because young people like Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.” You know, crazy new marketing gimmick I figured out, that the tomb’s empty and people are into that. You know, so he said, “Well, isn’t there any other way?” I said, “No, there’s no other way. There’s no Plan B. There’s Jesus and Jesus and that’s all we got, Plan A, Plan B.” And I said, “Well, what about you?” I said, “Do you believe in Jesus?” And he told me this, he said, “Come on. I went to seminary.” “So? Do you love Jesus? Do you know Jesus? Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead?” And you know what he said? “No.” He said no. I said, “Well, dude you went to seminary but you’re not going to Heaven. I could see that’s a problem.” Right, like if you don’t love Jesus, I’m not gonna tell you how to get young people, because I don’t want them going to your church. You’re not converted. You know, like, if you’re going to Hell, I don’t wanna teach you how to line people up to follow you. “Hideeho! Let’s go.” You know, “I’m kindling, be kindling, too.” No. Not a convert. The guy had a church of a couple hundred people. Ordained, licensed pastor. Couple hundred people. I asked him, I said, “What do you talk about? What do you talk about?” He’s like, “Look, you and I disagree on this issue.” What the? You know, I mean, my head’s spinning around on my neck, I’m like, “But he’s not a Christian and he’s got a church with a couple hundred people.” And you think about it – first thing, if you’re not a Christian, don’t be a pastor, right? The big E on the eye chart for this job is saved, right? After that, it’s all details.
You gotta be saved and you can’t be a new convert. Now, a lot of people think, “Man, why can’t I?” Well, I tell you what, why God doesn’t let new Christians be pastors – because he loves them. If you’re new to the faith and you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re learning, you’re growing, you love God but you’re not quite ready yet – until you’ve figured out a few things, you can’t really lead other people, so God wants you to wait. One of the saddest stories – I’m gonna tell you all kinds of terrible pastors gone wild stories tonight, is what I’m gonna do. One of my saddest ones was – there was a young man that I met, he was a teenager. He was a brand-new Christian that literally, like a year or less, decided to go plant a church. So he did. First service, he had like a 150 people, which is great, because the average church in America is about half that size. So he got off to a good start. I heard about him. Met him, got together with him, said, “You’re single, you’re a new Christian. It says not to be a new convert. You already got a church going. I think you’re a little ahead of yourself.” Gifted guy. Loves God. Good teacher. I mean, I see that he has, you know, good capability and capacity and as I talk to him, come to find that he already tanked it. He’d had sex with a young woman in his church. He was single. She was single. New convert. Didn’t quite have things put together in his spiritual life, yet. You know, he was fully repentant. He was very teachable. He shut down the church. He resigned and he went to another, very healthy church, where he sat under the pastors and the elders and he was trained and he was restored and he’s worked his way back and I believe God still has enormous things for this guy but I think that in his zeal as a brand-new Christian, so motivated, really wants to serve the Lord, that he should have just waited a little bit, couple years. Get married. Walk with Christ. Just get his feet under him a little bit more. Some of you are new Christians. You’re all fired up. I’m not saying, “Don’t serve God.” What I am saying is though, serve in a place that’s healthy. That enables you to grow. Teach a community group. Serve. Love. Help. Care for people but don’t put yourself out on the front line where Satan’s gonna just take potshots at you. Make sure you get your theology worked out; your life in Christ worked out; your identify in Christ worked out. Take a little bit of time to steep and I’ll tell you this – for you young men that aspire to leadership – you know, it’s better to go in a couple years late than a couple years early. Right, a couple years late, you still got a good life to serve the Lord. Couple years early, you might be done quickly. That’s why God says, “Here’s what I want. A man who’s got good character, that can teach the Bible and is a mature Christian.” Okay? First thing.
Second thing is the man’s relationship to his family. This does not mean that a man who is single or childless can’t be an elder. Paul, who’s writing this, is a single man. He’s writing to Timothy, who’s probably a single man. In addition, Jesus Christ was a single man. Okay, it’s not like if a married man has his wife pass away that we fire him because he’s single. We don’t. I’m saying this, though, to be a good elder, it’s best if you are a good husband and good father. I’m not saying that a single man can’t be an elder. But I’m saying it’s very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, hard to be a single man and a pastor. It just is. Can you ladies imagine that? You start dating your pastor and then you gotta dump him? That’s awkward, isn’t it? Or he dumps you and you wanna go to talk to your pastor about it but you can’t because he’s the one who dumped you. I mean, the whole thing’s just funky and weird. Just all confusing. And so, it’s best, I believe, to be a married man. I believe it makes life a lot easier. I know it does for me. So he’s gotta be a husband of one wife. In the Greek text, it’s literally a one-woman man. Okay? Now what this means is the guy’s sexually pure and he is committed to, devoted to, desirous of one woman exclusively. For you single men who have any aspirations of leadership in this church, you become a one-woman man yesterday. You don’t flirt with women. You don’t serial date. You don’t check out all of God’s daughters and test-drive them. You don’t. You don’t download porno from the Internet. You don’t go to strip clubs. You don’t hang out in singles bars and just dance on the edge. You just don’t. You’re a one-woman man who says, “I will have desire and passion and zeal and interest in one woman alone and until I meet her, I am not engaged anywhere with anyone. I’m just waiting for my wife.” This has caused more problems and more damage in ministry than anything I can think of. Guys start treating the ladies in their church as if that was their private harem and the money in their church as if it were their petty cash account. This is a huge problem.
I can give you a million stories. I remember the worst season of this, I got six calls in one month from various churches around the country where the pastor had had sex with somebody he wasn’t married to and the church leaders were calling, saying, “Can we get your advice on this?” It’s like that movie, Saving Private Ryan, where everybody gets off the boat and guys start taking bullets in the head and just falling. I could still remember being on a national speaking team a few years ago, traveling with a number of young pastors and I remember about halfway through a year’s travels, God rebuked me and told me, “You know what? You’re not loving your wife like you should. You’re not building your church like you should. You don’t have other elders to be accountable to. You’re out here on the road too much. You need to go home and stop being such an arrogant jerk.” And so I did and a good chunk of those guys who were on the speaking team with me are no longer in ministry because they’ve all committed adultery on their wives. One of the guys was a single guy who got caught having sex with different women in his church. Very sad. Very sad. These are pastors who aren’t one-woman men. They have their eyes gazing on other women. They have their flirtation and their interest and their emotional intimacy being developed with other women. Some of you are here because you come from a church where the pastor disqualified himself by doing something stupid and sick and sinful and wrong. And it’s a sick use of power because if you’re a pastor and there’s a lady that trusts you and looks to you and you manipulate that for sexuality, that’s an abusive thing to do, abusive thing to do.
It wasn’t too long ago that a pastor in this state did that. Had sex with a young woman, with a woman in his church and ran off with her and the wife ran off and married another guy in Vegas. Total nightmare. And sometimes it’s not even just sexual relationship, it’s an emotional boundary crossing to where a guy starts leaning on a woman other than his wife or women other than his wife, depending upon them. I’ve lost a couple of friends over emotional connections that got way too intimate, even though they weren’t sexual.
To me, I’ll be honest with you, I’m scared of God. I fear God. I read the Old Testament. I believe it. I’m scared of God. I know that I am a tool in the hand of God and that if I disobey or rebel or sin against God, I’m done. That’s it. I believe that this, of all things, is the nuclear bomb for a guy’s reputation. If our whole life is built on you being able to trust the elders and the pastors in this church, this is the eject button on character and trustworthiness. Okay, you need to know this, okay? I’m not a perfect man. I love my wife. I’ve been totally faithful to her. I’m a one-woman man. I met her at 17. I married her at 21. I’ve been chasing her ever since. I’m quicker than she is, so I’m happily married. You know, things are good. I just am. I love my wife. I adore my wife. I enjoy my wife, you know? I – I’m so glad I married the woman that I did. She makes it easy to love her. It says that he has to be a one-woman man. Some women make that easier than other women. Some women are like Kryptonite. You know? They’re hard, but you still gotta love them. I was blessed with a lovely, sweet, nice, enjoyable, great, glorious woman that I completely adore. I’ve been faithful to her our whole marriage. I don’t look at porno. I don’t – I’m a dull guy. You know what your goal is gentlemen? Have a bad testimony. That’s your goal. You know? I love my wife. I got to work. I pay my taxes. I read the Bible. No crack addiction. No rehab. You want a dull testimony. I got a pretty dull testimony. I’m an incredibly boring guy. I love my wife and I go to work and I come home and love my wife and play with my kids. That’s about it. Pretty dull but it’s working. So far, so good. One-woman man. Okay? And I’ll tell you what, guys, God does this because he loves the women in the church. He does. If the guy who’s leading doesn’t have it straight with God and his wife, he’s a really dangerous predator, could manipulate everything to abuse women. It’s a sick thing. It’s a sick thing.
One-woman man who has obedient children. This means he’s a successful father. This doesn’t mean that your kids are perfect. The pastor’s kids are sinners, like everybody else’s kids. But what it does mean is this, that the children respect and honor the father and if they don’t respect and honor the father, then who will? Who will? And it’s also this matter. The children are more important than the church. You know that? I love you guys and I love my job. I plan on doing this until I die at 80 or whatever, somebody kills me before then, whatever goes down. This is what I’m doing. But you know what? My kids are more important than you are. Need to know that. Need to know that I – my first responsibility is to my wife and kids. You know, some pastors work every single night. They put in a gajillion hours and they sacrifice their kids and their wife and their marriage so that they can be the pastor. There was a well-known, prominent, national pastor who, his wife left him after years of saying, “You’re never home. You don’t love me. You’re not investing in the children. You’re not connected. You’re not involved.” And he kept saying, “God’s called me to teach the Bible, woman, and that’s my high calling.” She left him. Got up before his church, told his congregation, “My wife left but God’s called me to preach the Bible, so I’m not leaving you.” They gave him a standing ovation. Shame on that church. They should’ve said, “Go home.” You know, “Love your wife. Love your kids. First things first. First things first.” And in the Bible, I believe every father and husband is a pastor. We call it Pastor Dad. He loves, teaches, evangelizes, leads his family. And if a guy does a good job of that, then Paul says, we let him run God’s household. But what he says is, if a guy can’t take care of his little church, wife and kids, how – why would we give him the big church? Why would we let him lead all the other families? And here’s the other thing, too, people follow the example of their leaders. That’s what Hebrews 13 teaches. So if a guy doesn’t love his wife and he’s not spending time with his kids, all the other men in the church will be prone to follow his example. The marriages will fall apart. The children will be neglected.
And I’ll tell you this, too. This is one thing I’ve seen. I’m convinced that some churches select godless men to lead them because the godless men want to stay godless men in the church. I’m messed up. If I get a pastor who’s not messed up, he’s gonna make me straighten up, I’ll vote for the crooked guy. That way he’ll never meddle in my affairs. I’ll never meddle in his. His kids are a joke. His marriage is a mess. He’s not gonna tell me what to do. Great. Great. One-woman man, who’s good with his kids. I’ll tell you guys this, too. If you guys wanna be a pastor, you’re not gonna have many hobbies. You guys that love hobbies, you want a motorcycle so you can go off by yourself. You want a fishing pole so you can go off by yourself. You want golf clubs so you can go off by yourself. I read that – you know what that means? On my day off, I’m driving around in my truck going to the dump with my sons. That’s what I do. Like I said, I don’t have a lotta hobbies. I have wife, kids, ministry. That’s what I’m doing. I love it, though. I love it, though. I don’t want to get on a Harley and leave town. I don’t wanna go fishing all the time. I don’t wanna master my golf game. I wanna go to the dump with my sons. I wanna take my daughter out to tea. I wanna have date night every Friday, which I do, with my wife. That’s what I’m doing. And guys who are into all their independence and their hobbies and don’t wanna spend time with their wife and kids, they’re not gonna be good pastors, not gonna be good – Proverbs says, like a bird who strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home. Okay, a good pastor is a good husband. He’s a good father and it says he manages his family well. That means he provides for, leads, organizes his family. Loves his family. You look at his family. Which means this, you know if a guy’s kids don’t have clothes that fit, they never been to the dentist, he’s not managing his home well. You go to his house and the paint’s falling off the side of the house and the weeds are all grown up, he’s not managing his family well. What this also means, practically is if his wife’s running around in some beater car that’s she’s gotta push start, he’s not gonna be an elder in this church, right? I’m serious. Unless your wife drives something as big as an SUV, you will not be an elder in this church. I wanna see that you love her and if she should get in a wreck, I want steel, airbags, weight, victory, anything – people say, “Oh, it’s gas mileage.” No, victory. Victory is what I’m about. That little – that, that woman in the Geo Metro, she might as well just put a big bumper sticker on it, “My husband hates me, don’t elect him to church leadership.” My wife drives a Suburban, man and if I could get something bigger, I would, but we just can’t park it in Seattle. And I know you’re thinking, “Oh, it’s ruining the environment.” No, not my environment. My wife and kids are fine, so I’m protecting my environment.
A guy who manages his family. If you look at his wife and she can’t afford clothes and the kids are not well-fed and they don’t go to the dentist and they’re push-starting their car and the paint’s falling off the house and they’re bouncing checks. You know that guy’s not gonna be a pastor. Why? Doesn’t manage his life with his family well. Why would we give him this monstrous undertaking if he can’t handle a few simple things. Jesus says, “You’re faithful with little, you’ll be entrusted with much.” Can’t handle a little, we’re not giving you much. For you single guys, what this means is, practically for you young guys, what this means is practically, get married, have kids, you’ll be trained through life on how to be a pastor. Pay your bills. Get dental insurance. Get your wife a decent car. Love her. Get your house in order and then if you want to tell other men what to do, they’ll listen to you because you’re not a hypocrite. But if you’re a hypocrite, why would they listen? They won’t.
Relationship to God. Relationship to family. Here’s a guy’s relationship to himself. Temperate. This is mentally and emotionally stable. Okay, we’re not discriminating against people that are mentally unstable. What we’re saying is out of love for them, they’re not best suited to lead the church, right? If you’re emotionally unstable, you know, don’t be an air traffic controller, don’t pastor a church, get something a little easier, right? Run a knitting store. Get something, notch down a little bit, you know? Be in charge of the macramé. Get something that’s a little easier to manage. If you’re emotionally unstable, can you imagine if I – some of you think , “Hypocrite. He is emotionally unstable.” And in court, it probably would convict. If you’re emotionally unstable in this job, man, it’s really hard because you never know what’s coming next with this job. Phone rings off the hook. Issues, people, stuff, it’s always something. Never know what’s going on. If you’re unstable, man alive, you’re gonna be reacting to circumstances rather than leading through them. I know one pastor got hospitalized on a couple occasions, full-blown nervous breakdown. They had to fill him with medication, strap him to a board and let him just sit there in the dark for a couple weeks to notch down. That’s not good. You know, out of love for that guy, he should find something else to do.
I remember one church, the guy – they couldn’t get his medication right. He’s all over the place an off his emotional tether and wife leaves him, church falls apart, he has, basically, the equivalent of a nervous breakdown, it’s like – somebody shoulda told that guy, you love Jesus and it’s not that you can’t serve Jesus but, man alive, you just don’t have the emotional wherewithal to do this job. And I know many of you pray for me and you love me, and I get some really nice emails –get some other ones too – and I’m totally cool. I’ll be honest with you. The bigger the church gets, the better I function, because I feel like it’s more obvious that I’m not in charge. I – I’m fine. I sleep good. I mean, whatever. Not perfect in this deal, but I’m cool. I don’t know, I think I freaked out a lot more when we were little. As the church gets bigger, I find that I function better, quite frankly. I’m like a dump truck. Without a load, I’m hard to handle. Put the load on me, and all of a sudden, I corner better. I think that’s what’s going on.
Mentally, and emotionally temperate. Can you imagine if I just lost it at everybody who got me upset? Can you – do you know the emails I get? Would you like to read my inbox? I told you a few weeks ago that I delete my emails. And, so now, people started faxing me. “I know you don’t read your emails, I’m in Iowa and I downloaded your sermon and I knew you’d delete it and so I’m faxing you.” I get – I mean, it’s crazy, you know? I’ve been told that I have a big head. Duh. I have a sore neck from carrying this nugget around. I know that. I’ve gotten emails complaining because I wear black. I heard it was slimming, I mean, you know, so I wear it. Everything. It doesn’t matter. And this sports bra deal a couple weeks ago – oh, man. Unbelievable. I mean, wow. Mention women’s undergarments and all hell breaks loose is what happens. I could be a heretic and I wouldn’t get the email I did over the sports bra. But you know what, if you’re just emotionally untethered and have a nervous breakdown and get all mad. What if I want to meet with everybody and argue and fight, eh. I tell you what, man. I just – I go to bed. That’s what I do. Temperate. You gotta have your emotional life in order.
Self-control. This is a disciplined life of sound decision making. Is he running – is this the guy who’s running off and get rich quick schemes, and keeps changing his theology, and reprogramming the church, and just doesn’t have a real good decision-making process. Isn’t wise in their decision-making. Can you imagine the kind of chaos that we would create if we started making a bunch of bad decisions? The number of people that we coordinate, the number of things we have going on – if we don’t have sound decision making and self-control in our decision-making – huge, huge, huge problems that we have as a church. And this issue of sound decision-making and self-control is important as well because – and I’ll tell you the truth – there is nothing that guarantees that a pastor will walk with God. You can have accountability, legalism, forms, groups. I have accountability with my elders and I submit to them here. I’m one of the pastors. I have a pastor at this church. You know what? If a guy’s not self-controlled, he doesn’t have control. Some of you guys right now, you’re out of control in certain areas of your life. He needs self-control. You need to control it yourself. This is your diet, your exercise, your money, your time, you’re alcohol consumption, your mouth, self-control. I think a lot of guys who lack self-control go into ministry because – one commentator said – it’s an indoor job that doesn’t require heavy lifting. I think he’s on to something there. Lotta guys who don’t have a strong work ethic and self-control they think, “I’ll be a pastor. Those guys are great. They do breakfast and they do lunch. They do dinner meetings and then they read all day.” I don’t read all day, guys. I read at night, just like you. You don’t get to read all day and neither do I. During the day, I run this church. At night after I tuck my kids in, I read and study. I read and study on the weekends. A lot of guys say, “I’ll go into ministry and then I’ll just read. That way I don’t need self-control. I won’t have any work. I’ll just read and yell at people. It’ll be wonderful. I’ll be like Dr. Phil.” No. It’s a lot harder than that. You need self-control. You need to have the ability to get up and go to work and pay your bills and walk with God an exercise and control your diet and your intake of alcohol in the whole thing. It’s a self-controlled lifestyle. Discipline is what it is. If you’re not disciplined, can’t be a pastor.
Another one, not given to drunkenness. Some commentator said, “Pastors shouldn’t drink.” They shouldn’t drink too much is what it means. I remember talking to one pastor, right before he got fired. I said, “How’s it going, man? Your church is really in a hard place.” I said, “How are you sleeping?” He said, “Not so good.” I said, “Well how do you go to bed?” He said, “I have to drink Wild Turkey just to go to sleep.” I’m like, “Dude, that’s not a plan.” That’s what I told him. I said, “That is not a good plan.” I mean, when it gets to the point where your accountability group is Jose Cuervo and Jim Beam and Johnnie Walker, like you’re going down, man. That’s not good. That’s not a good plan. That’s not a sustainable 50-year plan. “I drink ‘til I pass out and then I get up in the morning and go be pastor.” That – you gotta come up with another option. But I tell you what, if you cave in under the pressure, you give yourself into medication, addictions, alcohol. Some of you self medicate with alcohol or drugs. That’s what it’s talking about. Times get hard, people drink alcohol. What is it? A depressant. So what do they do. Get depressed. It’s not a brilliant plan. That’s not a brilliant plan.
I had one guy, I remember I was at a conference and I was speaking and one of the other guys who was in leadership with this deal, we were in Atlanta, Georgia, and afterward, a bunch of pastors and I went out to dinner and a couple of guys had a beer with dinner. I have no problem with that. I don’t have a problem with the glass of wine, providing are not causing people to stumble. But this one guy had a beer, had another beer, ordered another beer. Big beers, little guy. And I knew this guy pretty well, so I pull him aside, I said, “Dude, you haven’t even had anything to eat, yet. It’s like 6:00. You’re on your third pint and you’re starting to slur your speech. You’re looking a little silly. You know, I’ve seen you do this before. I think you’ve got a problem with drinking.” And he yelled at me, cussed me out. Said, “Oh, you’re being a legalist and a moralist.” I said, “I’m not being a legalist or moralist. I’m just saying, you know, five or six beers on the church tab, before dinner, you’re given to drunkenness.” And come to find that he had a major alcohol problem, was having sex with a woman in his church. Ended up getting fired and going through full alcohol rehab. That’s not good. That’s not good. And guys – some guys think this too. They think, “I’m struggling. I’m in sin. I don’t have self-control. I’ll go be a pastor. That’ll make me be real serious.” No way. No way. The pressure is far more intense once you’re in leadership. If you can’t handle it, don’t go into leadership. The pressure will absolutely kill you. It will crush you all together.
And the last one, not a lover of money. I love what money can do. I love the fact that we can pay the bills and have heat and light and chairs and sound. I love what money can do but the problem is when you love money. When you love money. When you’re greedy. Addicted to money. Pursuing money. All your thinking about is the money. And isn’t that weird? Because in most jobs, you get promoted for that. They tell you, “Work over time. Work ten times the hours. Work more, more.” Why? Because you could get more money. Well, it’s gonna cost me my family and I’ll never see my kids. Well, that’s okay, you’re gonna make more money. And the pastor it’s like, wait a minute, there’s something more important than money. People. Money is what we use to help people but the people are the most important thing, not the money. Not the money. The money’s the means to the ends.
Do you guys know I have a church credit card? What if I was a lover of money? Do you know that most pastors have a church credit card? A lot of them have petty cash accounts. I have to turn in my receipts to our Accounting Nazi every month. I have to account for everything. So I keep all my receipts in my wallet. I open it and just like a receipt-in-the-box, they go flying but I got all my receipts and I gotta note everything. Gotta account for, “Okay, I took this person out to coffee. Bought this person a Bible. They became a Christian.” I need to account for how we spend our money. Because you know what? Whose money am I spending? I’m spending your money and I’m spending God’s money. And so, it’s really important that somebody looks at that and say, “What’s he spending it on?”
There was a really well-known, prominent, national leader who just got into big trouble because he was spending a lot of the ministry’s money and it was for personal use. Got a new car, hard wood floors in his home, new wardrobe for his wife. Kept billing it to the church, or to the ministry account. You go, “What the?” You know, your tithes shouldn’t be used for personal things. I get a salary for that. But if I feel like this is my church and this is my money, then you put this money in the pot then I just get what I need, I start treating your money like petty cash.
It’s really important that you know how we handle our money. You guys give your money – a group of people collect it. Another group of people count it. Another group of people deposit it. Another group of people pay the bills. Another group of people balance the books, and then a CPA who’s a Christian that doesn’t attend this church, comes in and does a full external audit every year, to give us a full write-up on how we did with our finances. We take it incredibly seriously. I am none of those guys. I don’t touch the money. I don’t. Judas touched the money. You know, that’s a good lesson. Don’t touch the money. I don’t touch the money. I don’t go anywhere near the money. Okay, so in a church, though, you need to know – you guys are gonna give. Some of you are gonna give real generously. You gonna give large amounts of money. For members of the church, we keep an open book policy. If you have questions, come in. We’ll explain how all the money’s disbursed. We’re not going to hide anything from the members of the church.
Some churches, though, it’s small. People drop off money, check comes in the mail. Pastor’s holding the money. Well how do you know what he does with it? You don’t. You don’t. So, it’s so important that the pastor’s not a lover of money. If they’re financially crooked. And some churches really go backward. They underpay their pastor to the point where he’s starving to death and they wonder why he’s a lover of money. Because he’s broke. If they paid him, then he wouldn’t need to be thinking about money all the time, he could pay his bills. We’ll get into that and Chapter 5.
The last one is his relation to others. First thing, is he respectable? Here’s my point. Is this a person you want to be like? You want to follow? I have two questions with this. I ask, “If I die, do I want my sons to follow you around and be just like you?” I think that’s what the Bible means by respectable. My two sons, Calvin and Zach. I love my daughters and I love my sons. I’m all about being a dad. Dig being a dad. My sons follow me around and imitate me. I want them to learn from their dad. That’s what I want. But if I die, they’re gonna have to follow another man around and they’re gonna have to learn from him. My question is, is this a guy that I would want them to do that for? If I die, would I tell my sons, “Sons, follow that guy, be just like him.” If I can’t say that, I will not ever allow a man to be an elder in this church. Why would I? If he’s not good enough for my boys, he’s not good enough for you. Makes sense to me.
My other one is my daughter. Would I allow my daughter to marry this guy? If not, why would I let him be your pastor? Because obviously, there something in him that’s not respectable. There’s been guys I’ve met that say, “I wanna be a pastor,” it’s like, man, if my daughter brought you home, I would have the hardest time hiding the body. You know, so hard to hide the body. You know, it’s like, if you’re not gonna marry my daughter, you’re not gonna pastor this church. No way. You’re not gonna be one of the guys who check-mates me in a vote. No way respectable. It’s an overarching character issue. Worth following, imitating.
The next one is hospitable. This means that they welcome strangers, especially non-Christians. A lot if you read that, you say, “There it is, there it is! There’s the verse. I get your home number and I’m coming to your house for turkey pot pie.” No you’re not. You’re not. I’ll explain to you why. When the church was really little, we started with 12 people. Everybody who came, I would get their name and phone number, and I’d go out and take them out to eat, because I was trying to break the 13 barrier. Try to get some people to. Now, we have people. We have 2,000 people on a Sunday, regularly. I was doing some math because I’m weird. There’s 365 days in the year. If you subtract the holidays and Sundays, because that’s a workday, there’s about 250 days in a year. I eat two meals. I used to eat three, then I couldn’t get things out of my pockets, so now I eat two meals. That’s 500 meals that I eat a year. We have 500 members of the church. What that means is, as I was going to get a meal with you guys, I’d have to eat every meal this year, just with the members of this church. Every one. And since there’s 2,000 that come, there’s probably 3,000 people that call me pastor – I would need to eat every meal for the next six years just to get a bite to eat with everybody and the guy who shows up next week for the first time, he’s jacked, because he’s got to schedule eight years out. And so when it says hospitable, what it doesn’t mean is everybody gets to be friends with one guy and have his home phone number in hang out with him.
The concept here is hospitality. Let me tell you this. When Christians hang out together, we call it fellowship. When Christians hang out with non-Christians we call it a hospitality. The welcoming of a stranger. That’s exactly what it means. This is evangelism. A lot of good Bible churches don’t consider that their pastor needs to be an evangelist. He needs to love people and teach the Bible. He also needs to know, welcome, connect with non-Christians and do evangelism. And do evangelism. One of the most important things I do for my job is to connect with people that aren’t Christians, welcome them to Christ and Mars Hill, so that we can keep growing. That’s what all the elders need to do. Indeed, I need to be a loving guy. I need to be accessible and available, as do the other six elders in this church, but practically, like Paul tells the church in Rome, that the whole church needs to practice hospitality. There we all need to open our homes and have people over and break bread and love each other. And some of you come from smaller churches, where you have the pastor’s home number, he’d go to their house once a month for dinner, easily accessible. It is not practical and the church of this size. It’s just not. It doesn’t mean I’m not hospitable. In fact, we are. When we started this church, everything happened in our house. We had all the mid-week groups, the community groups, we had the elder’s meeting, we had the Gospel class, we had the offices – everything was at my house. We averaged over 2,000 people a year in our home, for the first couple of years of the church. I mean, we did, and my wife, praise God, was kind and gracious. It’s even reached a point now to where we would need to have 10,000 people through our home in a year to make it all happen. I don’t have that big of a house and there some better people for you to hang out with. The illusion is that I am pleasant. It’s a terrible illusion.
Just think about it. The guy who yells at you for a living, do you want him over? Nah. He’s gonna yell at you is what he’s gonna do. There’s nicer people in the church. Those are the people I hang out with. Find those people, okay? Not violent. How many of you guys are total hotheads? Just – man, you just – like the 4th of July, there you go. Oh. Can’t be a hothead and a pastor. If you are and somebody ticks you off, you will punch them. That’s bad. You can’t – know some people need to get punched. That’s true. But if you’re a pastor whose first instinct is – ‘cause somebody yells at you, cusses you out – you can’t just jack ‘em. You can’t just cuss them out, get in their face. You can’t. You can’t. It’s just – it’s not gentle or – it is contentious. Some guys love to argue, love to fight, love to take – every time you get together with them – it’s like embracing a porcupine. You just can’t, “Gol-lee would you just shut up and be nice? There are verses on love. I don’t want to argue again. I don’t want to fight again. I don’t want to disagree again. I don’t want to defend myself again. I don’t want to – can we just hang out? Could we just talk? Can we be friends? Can we be Christians?” No. Why? “I’m a violent man, who’s not gentle but is contentious. I have to fight, argue and debate.” Now some of you young guys are like that. And when you call, my assistant will come in and say, “So-and-so’s on the line, what do you want me to tell ‘em?” Anything other than I’m available. Because some of you guys, you just, you’re contentious. Just like to argue. And I’ll tell you what, there are times when we need to fight. There’s times we need to argue. There’s times we need to defend the faith. Most of the time, we need to be gentle. We need to love people, pray for them, the patient with them. Let things work themselves out. Can’t just get all hotheaded and angry and violent and divisive.
Some guys do this, too. Some of you guys are this way. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, you always take the other side. We call that the devil’s advocate. That’s probably bad. To be the devil’s advocate is probably bad. But some guys just like to take the other side just to fight. Just to be divisive. Just to argue. That guy’s not fit for leadership in the church. There’s only seven of us right now that are elders and if we had one of those people, we would never do anything as a church. We would just argue, fight. There would be no gentleness, no kindness, no unanimity, no consensus. It would be just arguing, fighting all the time. Fortunately, we have good elders. We pray about things. We’re like-minded. We don’t have the violence with the contentiousness.
The last one is the need to have a good reputation with outsiders. This is non-Christians, people outside of the church, right? This includes the media. Fortunately, we’ve had really good media coverage, from NPR to the Seattle Times and everybody else. It’s been good. But it’s a good reputation – people say, “You know, that’s a guy who loves the Lord and loves his wife and he loves his kids and he teaches the Bible and you know, he’s a decent guy. He’s a good guy. Loves the Lord. And it shows, practically. He’s a peaceable guy. He’s a straight shooter. He’s a kind, gracious guy. He’s got his stuff in order. He’s respectable. He’s the kind of guy that we want to be like or we’d like our sons to be like, or we’d like our daughters to marry. He’s that kind of guy. That kind of reputation in the community is what it’s talking about. For you men and women that aspire to leadership, these are good things to look at. This is basically a mature Christian. They love the Lord, good marriage, good kids and family, they know who they are and they have self-control. Their life with Christ is in order. They have a good reputation with people outside of the church.
Here’s how it works at this church. We are in elder-lead church, an elder-governed church. I’m one vote on the board. I – I can get fired. I can get censored. I can get disciplined. I mean, I’m one of seven guys who vote. First of all, if you want to be an elder in this church, you need to become a member of the church. That means you’re a Christian who has been baptized, gone through a basic theological training. That you’re giving, that you’re serving, that you’re mature, that you’re doing a good job with your family and your ministry and you’re rising up. Quite frankly, in the future, most of our leaders are going to come from our community groups. They’re gonna do a good job taking care of people and they’ll be able to take more people.
Paul then says if anyone desires the office of overseer, it’s a noble thing he desires. They have to want to be an elder. That’s why we never do a nomination. What we do is we believe that God calls people. They will come to an elder then and they will walk through one of the elders and they will schedule a time and that man will say, “I feel God’s calling me to be an elder.” And we – that elder at that point will say yes or no. Yes or no. You know the first thing we all do is look at their giving records. I need to tell you that. Do you give money? Do you serve? What’s your reputation? What’s your track record? I had one guy come up to me a couple years ago. He was making, at that time, more than anybody in the church. I looked at his giving records and he’d gotten creamed by a couple of high school kids, working part-time jobs. It’s like, “Look, man. You know, I don’t know who you think you are getting up and telling everybody else what to do when you’re not doing anything. You know, I’m about action and you don’t have any. So, no, you’re not gonna be a leader here. We’re not gonna give you anything to do until you’ve faithful with a little, then we’ll talk about some more.
Sometimes guys come up and they’re totally off their nut. Just totally off their nut. You’re just like, “God told you what? No he didn’t. God didn’t take a blow to the head. He would never say that. You’re not ready. I wouldn’t let you watch a pet while I was on vacation. I’m not gonna give you a couple thousand people. You don’t have a job. You don’t have a house. You don’t have a clue. Your fly’s open. You’re not the guy for the job, man. No.
Other times – other times guys come up and they say, “I feel God’s called me to be an elder,” and you look at the guy and you say, “You know what? I think so too. I see it. You’re a godly person. You have a good family. You have – you’ve got things in order.” And a big part of it too is how they train their kids, because the pastor’s kids cannot be naïve. When a guy goes into ministry, his wife and is children are going into fulltime ministry with him as a team, right? My wife is my partner, my friend, my confidant. Every stupid decision I ever made is because I didn’t ask my wife, literally. She has discernment. And you go into ministry with your wife, you go into ministry with two kids, and if you’ve not trained your kids for ministry and you’ve not done a good job preparing your wife to be your partner, you’re really not fit to train anybody as far as I can tell. And a lot of times, the pastor’s kids are naïve. They can’t be naïve, there gonna be in ministry. The gonna be in sin before they know it. So we look at a guy and we’ll say, “You know what, we think so.” So we’ll look at his wife, get to know her. What’s she like? We’ll look at his kids. We’ll interview the kids. “Does your daddy read the Bible with you? Pray with you? Is your daddy a good daddy?” We’ll ask about their sex life. “Hey, how are things going? You guys got a good relationship? Is he a one-woman man? Does he chase you around the house? Do you slow down like the Bible says you should? How’s everything going?” Those quick women are the worst, you know?
And then once we get a good semblance of the guy, then he’s in a six month trial period, if all the elders agree that he’s ready, where one elder is mentoring him. Readings, theology, development. He’s teaching. Leading an area of ministry. He’s growing. And he’ll present to us his doctrinal statement, his ministry philosophy; what he wants to lead in the church; what he wants to do; what God’s called him to. We’ll evaluate that. We test the call. If we all approve unanimously, then he comes to the meetings for another six months and he can’t vote, but we see how he works in the group and how he handles himself. How his family handles themselves with more responsibility. At the end of the six months, if we all unanimously agree, then we bring him before you. If you guys have any problems with him, you let us know and then we install them, lay hands, pray over them, install them, as leaders in this church. And then how much do they get paid? Nothing. That’s to work for free. So you can pretty much guess they’re not in it for the money, right? I mean, I can’t think of any other job where you gotta give ten percent of your income, work for a couple years for free, and then go through a rigorous, grueling process for over a year to work for nothing. That’s what we do. The people who lead this church. Some of you say, “They’re all money grubbers.” Well, if they are, they’re dumb because this is the dumbest way to grub some money that I can think of. The big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’s an empty pot. That’s what it is. You get jack squat for doing this job. I worked this job for free for the first three years. All of our other elders volunteered and worked and served as unpaid guys for at least a year. We hire from within the church. We don’t guarantee anybody a hire, but we feel if you’re doing a good job and working for free and your with us and for us, then if we have a need, then we will pay you. Otherwise, you’re working for free. That’s how we do it.
What I would say is this – first thing – for those of you who care about this church, pray for your leadership. Please do. We have good leaders. I mean, their marriages are intact, the family’s are intact, we’re not perfect people, but things are going really, really well. I’m having the time of my life. Honestly, this is the best time of my whole life. I’m enthusiastic, happy things are going great, but we need your prayers just that we would be faithful. We love our wives. We love the Lord. We raise our kids. We set a good example. We teach our Bibles. We maintain self-discipline, self-control. It’s a great team. I praise God for guys in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. Nice age range. Nice life experience. It’s a wonderful team. God’s adding to it. Pray for your elders. In addition, if you’re a young man, work on being a good Christian and then as God rises you up, you’ll be a good pastor.
And lastly, what I would say is this. As we go through this, some of you are convicted. You realize that,if this is the portrait of a mature and healthy Christian, there are ways you fall short, the good news is that Jesus Christ lived without sin. Died for sin. Forgives sin. He will embrace you, forgive your sins, and he will give you the grace to live a new life. And that’s really how all of this gets done, is by the empowering grace of Jesus Christ. And I’ll close with this. The real thing that makes Mars Hill work is this. Who is the senior pastor? It’s Jesus. Has to be. 1 Peter 5, chief shepherd. They don’t call me senior pastor. I’m an elder. Jesus, senior pastor.
He says, you know what? I’ll build my church. He has built this church. Thank you, Jesus, we’re so glad you have. Hebrews says he’s the Apostle. He planted this church and he’s the one who will sustain it and make it grow. The key to Mars Hill is very simple. Jesus Christ is God. He’s in charge. The Elders need to follow Jesus and the people in the church need to follow the elders who are following Jesus. That’s what Paul says, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” That’s all a leader is, somebody who’s following Jesus and other people follow them as they follow Jesus, and in the end, we’re really just all following Jesus. Reading our Bible, praying, repenting of sin, sticking close to Jesus, and that’s why we’re here. He is senior pastor. He is chief shepherd. He is savior. He is redeemer. He is the one who started this church. He is the one that will give us the grace to be good to the end.
So we’re going to invite you to communion, which is remembering Jesus’ body broken and blood shed for your sin. We’ll sing and celebrate and worship. We’re going to go from here to tell the people about how good Jesus is. And a couple weeks, We’ll go to a third service. We will continue to grow as a church. It’d be a wonderful and great season. I look forward to the leaders that God raises up and for you men, I’ll be praying. I’ll be praying, and praying that you look at these things and that you ask God for the grace to be a good man so that if nothing else, your wife and your kids have a good pastor.
Father God, we love you. We thank you for a chance to study your Word. I thank you, Lord Jesus, that you’re in charge of Mars Hill. When we have made the wrong decisions, you’re bigger than our decisions. When we have thought we knew what we’re doing and we didn’t, you were gracious enough to correct our errors. God, I thank you for giving us forgiveness of sin and empowering grace to stay from sin. Pray for our leadership, God and pray for the leaders in this church that you’ll be raising up, the men and the women, to serve as elders and deacons and teachers and those who see this work go forward. God, I thank you from my lovely wife. I adore her and I thank you so much that I have the privilege of being a one-woman man to that woman. I thank you for the honor it is to be a father and to be a pastor. I pray you keep us all humble. That you would get your glory and we would get our joy – that this church would continue to grow and then ultimately, God we would all be sticking close to the Lord Jesus. It’s in his name we pray, amen.