A Problem With Young Ministers

Doug Wilson discusses Titus 1:6, a text that most ministers tend to ignore. Regardless of what you think of Wilson’s thesis, ministry should not to be regarded as a profession. There are moral standards for being a pastor and once those have been breached, pastors need to step down and move on. There is much wisdom in having men who pursue the ministry formally also having a trade or vocation to fall back on, akin to Rabbi Saul’s tentmaking.

Here’s a little argument from Wilson on being hesitant to ordain young elders:

Let me begin with a requirement laid down by Paul for men in the ministry, a requirement that is unfortunately widely neglected (and  therefore controversial) in conservative circles. He says that part of a minister’s qualification is his ability to manage his own household well, and with all dignity, such that his children are submissive (1 Tim. 3:4). In addition, he says further that what is going on in his household is a good predictor of what is going to be happening in the church (1 Tim. 3:5). Paul says elsewhere that this submission extends to submission to the gospel. Not only must a minister’s children not be dissolute and rebellious, they must be faithful (Tit. 1:6). Whether or not that last word is rendered as faithful or as believers amounts to the same thing. A minister’s children are his first parishioners, and they are the canary in the mine.

Now the necessary qualifications. I make a distinction between ordaining men to the ministry and defrocking them. Qualifications for expulsion should be stiffer than qualification for non-admittance — but to the extent we want to lean on this, it is perhaps a strong argument for not ordaining men with younger children. A man strong-minded enough to insist on pursuing his call to the ministry when his younger children are two, four, and six should also be strong-minded enough to tender his resignation when his grown children are serving two to four, and four to six, in the state penitentiary.

For a counter to Wilson on whether ‘faithful’ means ‘believing’ or just ‘obedient’ see this article by Justin Taylor.