What about the Kids?
Pastor/elders oversee or manage the church, the very bride of Christ. This is a high and holy calling requiring proven, tested, mature men. In this blog we focus on the pastor’s home life, specifically his children. The Word of God says,
He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?) (I Timothy 3:4-5)
This is complimented by Paul’s words in Titus 1:6,
...having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.
So what do we make of these verses? If he has children and if they are still in the home, there must be some appropriate questions and interaction before hiring or installing the man. This is kind of like a dress code in business. You know there’s a problem when you see it. Does the man manage his family with love, sacrifice, wisdom and firm, godly leadership? Is he a model believer to his wife and children? Are his children orderly and respectful or do they run wild, run over their parents and undermine the testimony of their father? Dissipation and rebellion can’t hide for long.
No parent is perfect and no child is expected to be Christ-like every moment, so the test is one of patterns and responses and a general relationship between father and children. I have known of cases where pastors or elders chose to temporarily step down from the office when needing to address issues at home. I’ve also known of a pastor who remained in office and the church came alongside and prayed fervently for the prodigal. This is a very sensitive area requiring much wisdom, prayer and wisdom to navigate these waters.
These passages raise a host of questions. Must all elders have children? If they do, must they all be committed Christians who walk with Christ? What if several of an elder’s children do walk with Christ but one doesn’t it? Do these qualifications apply indefinitely or only when the children are in the home, under the father’s authority? How old must an elder’s children be before he can be qualified? Believers have answered these questions differently.
My take is this. If an elder is married and if God gives him children, these children have to be brought up under the loving control and authority of that dad and give evidence of that. Once they are “grown and gone”, then how they choose to live is no longer under the control of the father. Inside all of this there needs to be the question of whether these kids have seen a consistent Christian walk in their father, whether he has sought to evangelize and disciple his children and whether he has demonstrated love for them, bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord in God’s church. I think the mature people of God will sniff out a problem where there is one.
Beyond his children’s beliefs and behavior is the running of the entire household. The buck stops with dad. “Manages household well” must surely include paying bills on time, maintaining an orderly home life, having a presentable home and yard within the person’s means, being a diligent and responsible neighbor, taking care of the assets God has given, etc.
It has often been observed that the home is a mini-church and thus the proving ground for prospective pastors and church elders.
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight