The pastor represents a holy God in his calling. He does not represent himself. Paul the Pastor understood this perfectly well when he writes, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Cor. 4:1-2 ESV, emphasis added). The pastor as Christ’s servant and God’s steward is expected to be “trustworthy,” that is, “reliable.”
This trustworthiness extends to all aspects of a pastor’s life. This is clearly seen in the qualifications of the pastor as noted in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. For example, we read, “For an overseer [pastor], as God’s steward, must be above reproach” (Titus 1:7 ESV). With the help of the Holy Spirit, he must live above reproach. This is crucial for all pastors to note.
To the young pastor Timothy, Paul the older pastor urgues,
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Tim. 4:12 ESV, emphasis added)
Among the other qualities that Paul encourages Timothy to be an example in is—purity, with which Paul ends the list. This is crucial.
However, pastors all over this country continue to fall victim to sexual immorality, marital unfaithfulness, greed for power, embezzlement of the church funds and so on.
The pastor must guard his purity or run the risk of being disqualified from the ministry. Paul knew this. “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27 ESV, emphasis added).
Recently, I was asking a pastor–who has been at his current church for 20 years now—what are the keys to his pastorate. He quoted 1 Timothy 4:16 to me:
“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16 ESV, emphasis added).
Yes, the pastor must protect both the purity of himself and his teaching, because his call as pastor has eternal consequences.