Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…
1 Timothy 3:2
God places His emphasis on character for those whom He calls to serve Him. The requirements here for the “overseer” refer to the maturity of the pastor of the church. (The titles overseer, pastor or shepherd, and elder normally refer to the same position in Scripture, Acts 20:17,28 and 1 Peter 5:1-4.)
We never see a precise job description in the Bible for the work of shepherding God’s people. We see many examples in Scripture and we can gather the basic gist and idea of God from these passages - to care for the health of the local church, for the spiritual development of God’s people, for their moral and spiritual progress, combining teaching, guiding, organizing, counseling, encouraging, leading, commanding, loving, to make peace among the members, to encourage the exercise of their spiritual gifts, to train and equip them all for service as well, all under the Lordship of Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
But the issue of character is always placed first in God’s word. God does not ignore the importance of wisdom, experience, and knowledge. The Scripture says that by wisdom a house is built, and by wisdom the church is built and people are built up in to mature followers of Christ. The first deacons of the church in Acts 6 were said to be full of wisdom, but more important than this was that they were first filled with the Spirit.
This principle - that character comes first - is emphasized throughout the Bible and is applicable in all areas of our lives, in the home and family, in being a good spouse and parent, in the work place, and in friendships as well. Seek first, Christ taught, His kingdom and His righteousness, and then the other things of life may be added to this (Matthew 6:33), but not before.
You may list all of your concerns on paper - whether money, health, family, marriage, friendship, or whatever - but at the top of the list you should write “Character” or “Personal maturity” or “commitment to God.” That is the greatest concern of God for us.
Do you need money? First, seek to be a person of Christian character. Do you need healing? Character first and commitment to Christ. Do you need a new job? Seek first His face and then seek His hand. Draw close to Him and worship Him and seek to become in all ways the Christian He has called you to be, and then see if these other concerns are still all that important to you.
The person of true character is ready to receive blessings because he seeks them not. He has found all that this soul truly desires in the Lord Jesus Himself. He is ready to handle responsibility for he does not do so out of a sense of low self-esteem, hoping that some title will make him feel better about himself.
A.W. Tozer wrote: “Humble yourself and cease to care what men think. A meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather,… he has stopped being fooled about himself. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He has obtained a place of soul rest. The old struggle to defend himself is over.”