Does Having a Bad Reputation Make a Man Unfit for Eldership?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Can being widely reproached and not well thought of by outsiders make someone unfit for eldership, even if the reproach is inaccurate?

The reason this question is significant is because of the biblical, 1 Timothy 3 statement that an elder should be above reproach.

So what does "above reproach" mean for qualifications for eldership, that is, qualifications for pastoring? And it's not an easy question, but I think I know where this is coming from.

At our level (when we look at a man for eldership, or at hiring a staff person who would be de facto an elder, perhaps) we want to know, if he has a bad reputation with unbelievers, what does that mean? Does it mean he has cheated people? Does it mean that he has an irascible personality? Does it mean that his marriage is so bad that everybody in the neighborhood knows it? Does it mean he plays his stereo at 2am with the window open so the neighbors can't sleep?

In other words, having a bad reputation is symptomatic possibly of sin. That's the reason you check it out. And you can't have an elder who everybody in the city thinks is a jerk because of his bad behavior.

Now, go the other way. I've done a study of the term panta ta ethne (all nations), because you're supposed to go and make disciples of "all nations." Jesus says in Matthew 23, I believe, "You will be hated by panta ta ethne." That's a lot of people! Everywhere you go! Every people group!

Somalis are going to hate you. Hispanics are going to hate you. Middle class white people are going to hate you. Blacks are going to hate you. Indians are going to hate you. The Bible says so! Nobody can be pastors and elders that way. So, it's going to come down to whether or not the reproaches are warranted.

My answer here is that if the reproach is inaccurate, and the person really is walking in the truth, then, No, a wide disapproval of unbelievers or of believers who misunderstand doesn't disqualify a person from the ministry.

But it sure should make him sit up and take notice, and ask, "What can I do to try to heal my reputation with believers?"

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