The Integrity and Health of the Pastor and His Church.

If you were asked to write a job description for a pastor, what would you include? Should a pastor's job emphasize creative ideas to be culturally relevant? What tasks are most important? 1 Timothy 4:11-16 tells us what God emphasizes in the personal and public expectations of pastor-teachers.


Paul gives Timothy eight imperatives that can be condensed into two summaries of what pastors should be expected to do.

Live and Lead a Reverent Life

1 Timothy 4:15 summarizes the first four imperatives Paul writes to the younger pastor, Timothy, in verses 11-14. "Take pains with these things," he tells him, reminding him to remember the doctrine he's already rehearsed in this letter. The words "take pains" imply planning ahead, thinking beforehand, and even making a strategy to obey the imperatives Timothy has received.

A pastor's life must be captivated first by personal reverence, far before he goes public. Being "absorbed" is literally translated "be in them." A pastor's life is consumed by living out God's Word. Does this sound exhausting to you? It is reality at times. This is a unique part of the pastor-teacher's gift, but every Christian must follow his example and live a life of private reverence first.

Why does Paul command these things? So that all the Ephesian believers would see Timothy's progress. He does not have to live up to the demands of critics who expect perfection. He can be transparent even with his failures. As he gives attention to his own walk, God will ensure that his progressive growth in Christ-likeness is evident to all.

A Youthful Example

Timothy would be in his mid-to-upper-thirties at the time Paul wrote this letter. He was still considered a young man with a great deal to learn! The imperative in 1 Timothy 4:12 tells him to avoid immaturity, not giving anyone a reason to look down on his youth. Respect cannot be demanded, but over time, a reverent life will earn people's respect. Paul listed four areas of life where Timothy could earn respect:

  • Speech. A pastor's speech should never be irreverent, and he should not try to be more hip than holy. Your mouth shows your heart (Luke 6:45). Develop your heart in private, and your speech will reflect it.
  • Conduct. Every layer of life should be governed by biblical conviction.
  • Love. When he has reached the limit of his human capacity and energy to love, a pastor still chooses to love even a difficult person (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, John 15:13).
  • Faith. A pastor earns respect through faithful perseverance.
  • Purity. A pastor's life must be characterized by sexual and moral purity (1 Timothy 3:2).
Give Attention

1 Timothy 4:13 emphasizes the pastor's private time in the Word. He must be reading and applying Scripture on his own so he can know it well in order to preach. His personal example of devotion to the Word will teach his congregation much more than a sermon.

Next week we will discuss the second summary of these imperatives: A lifestyle that testifies by how it perseveres.

Application Points

  • Consistent personal devotion to the Lord takes planning. Spend some time to strategize: How will you do the things you have been told to obey?
  • Is your progress evident to all in your local church? Do people know you outside of your Sunday school class or ministry group?
  • Are you under 40? The New Testament would call you youthful! Though you may be in a position of authority, remember that there is always more to learn. As you grow, your life will earn others' respect.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Philippians 3:12-14 – Paul never stopped learning and growing.
  • 1 Corinthians 11:1, Philippians 3:17, 4:9 – Paul often asked others to follow his example.
  • Nehemiah 8:1-18 – This story from Israel's history shows the proper order of engaging with Scripture: read, interpret, and apply. The people were convicted, encouraged, and overwhelmed. Hearing and applying God's Word brought true joy.
A Hymn to Encourage: "My Faith Has Found a Resting Place"

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

My great Physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s Name,
Salvation through His blood.