From the Word: 1 And seeing the crowds, he went up into the mountain, and when he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:1–10)
From the Confessions: The Small Catechism, Table of Duties
Certain passages of Scripture for various holy orders and positions, warning them about their duties and responsibilities:
For Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers
A bishop must be above reproach, married once, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent, nor greedy, but patient. He should not be quarrelsome or covetous. He should ably oversee his own household, having his children in subjection with all seriousness. He should not be a new convert, but one who holds fast to the faithful Word as he has been taught, so that he may be able to both exhort and to convince the argumentative with sound doctrine (from 1 Timothy 3:2–7; Titus 1:6).
Pulling It Together: The Beatitudes provide us a sufficient test of those who would be teachers of the Word of God. The rest of Scripture makes it even clearer, but if we looked for evidence of the Beatitudes in the lives of those whom congregations are considering for pastoral call, we would do well. Instead of where they have served before, the so-called richness of experience they might bring to a new church, we could and should consider whether they are poor in spirit—whether they depend upon Christ Jesus or their talents and life experience. Are they sorrowful for being a sinner? Do they have a meek bearing? Do they yearn for the righteousness that is imputed through faith in Christ or instead, seem satisfied with where they went to seminary, or what degree they have earned? Are they gracious and kind when meeting people for the first time in an interview? Does their preaching identify the attitude of their hearts as dependent upon God or self? Do they recall quarrels with previous congregations; do they seem to have to be right, or do they show a practice of peacemaking? Have they been persecuted—even by a previous church body—for the sake of righteousness, for doing what Christ wanted instead of what was desired by the squeaky wheels in former congregations?
While we are testing pastoral candidates along these lines, we might test ourselves as well.
Prayer: Bless, O Lord, the pastors of your church, that they may be faithful to their calling. Amen.
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