The Need for Shepherds

But before any man can serve the Lord in church leadership, he must meet a list of 26 requirements in his life. When a man meets all these requirements, he is to be recognized by the sheep as a truly qualified shepherd. The list is found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1; it is stringent and weeds out a lot of men who might like to be church leaders. But this list also motivates men to become more like Christ, the True Shepherd of the flock. It provides a God-given target for men to aim their lives and ministry at. Furthermore, this list is the same for every church in every culture, because every man who grows in Christ-likeness looks more and more like the qualities of this list.

Starting with 1 Timothy 3:1–7, each man to whom Jesus grants leadership has all the following qualities:

  1. aspires to the office of overseer”—one who is internally motivated by deep conviction to do all that Christ may ask of him in the care and feeding of Christians;
  2. is above reproach”—against whom no accusation of sin is justified, but is upright in every area of life;
  3. the husband of one wife”—a man who (if married) is not adulterous, is not flirtatious or sexually impure in any other way, but is completely given to his own wife;
  4. temperate”—one not given to excess in pleasures or habits;
  5. sober-minded”—a man who is not given to foolish or eccentric thinking;
  6. respectable”—a person who elicits trust from others by virtue of godliness and kindness;
  7. hospitable”—one who cares for others with his own resources, especially in the use of his home;
  8. able to teach”—one who directs others into Scripture, providing effective guidance and instruction;
  9. not a drunkard”—one who is not overcome by sensory pleasures such as alcohol;
  10. gentle”—a man who might be slandered and mistreated but will still serve with meekness and unfailing graciousness;
  11. not quarrelsome”—one who makes peace and maintains it by upholding biblical standards and comforting others;
  12. not a lover of money”—one who invests in God’s kingdom, is generous, and refuses to make money in any manner that dishonors the Lord;
  13. manages his own household well”—in humility and strength, he successfully leads all aspects of family life into conformity with the word of God;
  14. with all dignity keeping his children submissive”—whose younger children, if any, display the fruit of their father’s wise and godly hand in their attitudes and characters;
  15. not a recent convert”—one who has been tested by numerous trials and has displayed a stable faith in the midst of failure and success;
  16. well thought of by outsiders”—there are no just reasons even among unbelievers for why this man should not be a leader of the church.

Then from Titus 1:6–9, those not already covered in 1 Timothy 3 are:

  1. his children are believers”—in older children there is evident fruit of sovereign grace, the seal upon the man’s private and intimate conduct in the home;
  2. “not be arrogant”—one who is not filled with himself in speech and actions, who prefers others above himself;
  3. not quick-tempered”—one who is not rude with people, or has a low boiling point when he is ignored or doesn’t get his way;
  4. a lover of good”—a man who prizes good works, who loves to see good come to pass, and shuns or reproves all things less than good;
  5. upright”—one whose dealings with all men are correct and true, who does not steal or malign, and who rejoices in integrity, even to his own hurt;
  6. holy”—one who shuns sin in every form, who will reprove it in others professing godliness, and who lives to worship Jesus Christ as his greatest joy and highest priority;
  7. disciplined”—conducts himself with godliness in every situation;
  8. holding fast the faithful word”—one who is knowledgeable of Scripture and is deep in conviction to its tenets, both doctrinally and ethically;
  9. able to exhort in sound doctrine”—one who can comfort the depressed and challenge the lax with a doctrinal approach to God and life;
  10. able to refute those who contradict”—can use Scripture to confront hardened error, and if need be, will follow every Scriptural command out to its full extent, such as in church discipline.

If only all churches today were led by such men! For when a man truly matches up with Christ’s qualifications, then he is worthy to be entrusted by the sheep with leadership over them. Scripture tells us several times to submit to such men (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13; 1 Peter 5:5; Hebrews 13:17). The elders have been granted the same kind of authority in a church as a godly father has in a home (1 Timothy 3:4–5).

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  1. Jayant Christian says:

    I don’t know or can tell about others, but I can say that although I have obtained grace of our Lord, I do not measure up well to the 26 qualifications for elders or deacons. I wish I could. However, it is my heart’s desire that the Lord provides to His flock the shepherds after His own heart.

    One observation I would like to make is that there are so many who love money, the root of all evil. The Lord’s name is not honoured through such men. Moreover, some inclination is to encourage one’s own kin in the mininstry and leadership. It is true that a leader’s son or daughter should follow in the footsteps of his father, but to allow leadership just because he is the kin of the elder or mininster is not good. There are many ministers whose mininstry is just run by him, his wife, his son or his daughter. Others are allowed to serve in so far as they are of help, but they would not come forward in leading the ministry further. Ultimately, the Church of God suffers. Such ministers are good shepherds of their family, but at the cost of His Church. O Lord, please be merciful to your flock and give us your own good shepherds!

  2. Ted Bigelow says:

    Excellent points, Jayant. Money is a great temptation and a great revealer of hearts.

    The gospel of Jesus Christ purifies the heart from the love of money. When we see men in ministry who love money, it is because they do not love the Lord Jesus, or His gospel. They are to be avoided like the plague!

    I hope you have found a church that has godly elders. Where are you from?


  3. Anonymous says:

    How can we find Jesus Christ?

  4. Ted Bigelow says:

    Call on Him – Romans 10:9-11 if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

  5. Jack Guarino says:

    Ted, WELL SAID !!!!!!!!! That mini article on qualifications of leadership “the need for shepards” is so desperately needed in the church ! May God use your ‘pen’ (voice) to bring these issues into focus.I’d like to read the book.We’ll talk soon !

  6. Ted Bigelow says:

    Thanks, Jack.

    The Titus Mandate is especially for someone like you, who has suffered greatly in the past because of sinful church leaders. I will be praying it really helps you both understand why you have suffered, and how to find a great church in your area (if you haven’t already).

  7. Pam Guerrero says:

    These guidelines are helpful in searching for a church to attend. Yet, how can we know if the leadership in the churches follows these guidelines? I live in [deleted by editor] (Please don’t mention this on this blog.)

  8. Pam Guerrero says:

    These guidelines are helpful in searching for a church to attend. Yet, how can we know if the leadership in the churches follows these guidelines?

  9. Ted Bigelow says:

    Pam – look for two things:

    1) Does the church have “elders” – or something else designed by man (Chapters 1-2);
    2) Are the elders appointed by popular vote, or by The Titus Mandate (chapters 3-4).

  10. John says:


    Thanks for your post. I believe churches today are in a critical state due to lack of true shepherds. I am in the Southern Baptist denomination and we are in serious need of building Biblical churches. We concentrate more on the Trellis than the vine. We can’t even implement regenerate church membership in our CBL because it will offend some people. We have unregenerated deacons that try to run the church. As you can tell, we dont have elders in our church. I like to have permission to use your post on our website. I am definately getting a copy of your book. Thanks Ted.

  11. Ted Bigelow says:

    Absolutely. And when you read The Titus Mandate, I think you’ll see that the situation on Crete mirrors the SBC precisely.

  12. Steff says:

    I am so happy to say, not to brag.. that my pastor is like this.. I am so happy :)

  13. Joy says:

    If one attends a very small (less than 10) home-based church and the Pastor is “Lording over” his flock and claiming that he does not have time to assist the congregant w/prayer or even what he and another congregant offered help with, is it Biblical to calmly and gently ask questions of the Pastor? If the Pastor’s wife openly challenges him during the “circle discussion part,” even pointing her finger at him and telling him, “I have warned you! Stop talking about the daycare!” and the congregant tells the Pastor in private that she was very uncomfortable with that because it was more like a quarrel between a husband and wife, is that a sin? He works four days a week. Any comments are welcome at my email address of Thank you.

  14. Ted Bigelow says:

    No, I doubt its a sin. Can you find a church nearby with elders? Where are you?

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