Benchmarks/Qualifications for an Overseer/Pastoral Counselor

According to I Timothy 3:2-7, an overseer should be

…above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[ respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

I Timothy 3:2-7

It is rather remarkable how rarely this guidance is used for determining a pastor/bishop/overseer. Often, the focus is placed on whether “one woman man” means that a pastor must be male, or whether he/she can be divorced, or one of a myriad of other things. The other focus is on the managing of family, and whether that means that if a pastor has a daughter who gets pregnant out of wedlock, or a son who succumbs to alcohol or drugs, does that disqualify the candidate. I would rather leave that to denominations to play games with this.

For me, the idea of pastor/episcopos as overseer, links to being a pastoral supervisor or a pastoral counselor. It seems like these can be guided by this passage. One can organize these qualities into three sections— Reputation, Self-control, and Relationships with Others. And then one could add one more item that fits under all three sections: Able to teach and guide.

Reputation Self-Control Relationships with Others
Above reproach or blame Sexual
Respectable Self-control in habit Not violent with others,
but gentle
Good reputation with
Mature in role Good relationship with

Able to teach or guide others

Looking at these three major areas, perhaps there is a logical progression that should considered. Arguably, the reputation should flow from the relationships the overseer/pastoral counselor has. And the health of these relationships should flow from the intangible aspects of that person’s character. The qualities of an overseer in a church setting or in clinical pastoral training should be essentially the same. It is out of these qualities that an overseer may be able to train and provide therapy.

Reputation ——– Professional competence

Self-control ——– Professional ethics

Relationship with others ——– Social skills

A supervisor needs to have demonstrated competence in the field he or she is supervising. In Bloom’s taxonomy of learning, he or she has reached the level of evaluating. Professional ethics involves following ethical guidelines of the profession as well as maintaining proper balance and boundaries in his or her personal life. Social skills are perhaps the most self-explanatory. They are the competencies and sensitivies in relationship with others, and most likely presupposes a level of self-awareness and self-actualization as well. Out of these areas comes the ability to supervise.

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