It was 1969. I was fresh out of school and newly married. That’s when the announcement appeared in the newspaper; the Santa Ana Police Department was recruiting rookie officers.
I had ambitions for police work; I completed what police science and criminology classes were available at my school, as well as some classes in psychology and sociology so I was a little more qualified than most of the other applicants.
I appeared, at the appointed time, in front of the recruiting officers for my interview. One of the first questions, they asked me was, “What is your height?” And that was the end of my police career.
You see, the job qualifications required a minimum height of 5’ 9” and I was one-half inch short. One stinkin’ half inch. When I answered the question, the recruiting officer asked, “Why would you come down here and waste our time? You knew what the height requirement is.”
Now it is not my intention to complain about the interview or the stupid qualifications; I simply want to use this story to illustrate a point. In my lifetime, I have had several occasions to apply for employment and in every case, there have been written qualifications in the job publications.
Those qualifications usually divide into two categories – SHOULD haves and MUST haves. In other words, there are some qualifications, attributes, skills, characteristics, or experiences that could be beneficial to you and your employer for success in your job. And then there are others that are absolutely necessary or you will not be considered.
I am not a cop because I did not meet the qualifications. That’s the way it is in the secular business world. When the posting says, “Must have, shall have, or will have, that’s exactly what it means. If you do not possess all the qualifications, you do not get the job. Period!
So what is my point? When it comes to calling a pastor, most churches aren’t even as cautious as the secular world and too many of them think they know better than God.
The calling of a pastor to a church is a high calling. It is special; it is unique because it is a calling from God. Scripture is clear; It is God who calls his shepherds. He equips them for service and He assigns them to their respective ministries for the edification of His church. It is not the prerogative of the sheep to choose the shepherd. It is their responsibility to recognize the one whom God has sent.
How do we do that? It’s not easy, but the very first things we ought to look at are the qualifications that God has provided in His Word. God does not give us a bunch of negotiable qualities to consider; He gives us a short list of absolute, non-negotiable, qualifications. They are listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and in Titus 1:5-9 and in both lists, they are MUST HAVE qualifiers.
And God doesn’t give us the option to overlook some of them; a pastor MUST be qualified in all.
If any man ever wonders if God is calling him to pastoral ministry, the first place he should look is in these two passages. Years ago a friend of mine objected, “Just because I made a mistake when I was younger and divorced my first wife, does that mean that I am not qualified to serve God?”
“Of course not,” I answered, “It just means that God is not calling you to a pastoral ministry.”
Your pastor may be a very fine man (or woman) but if he does not meet all of the qualifications, you can be sure that God did not call him, equip him, and send him to you.