My neighbor is a potter. She makes items out of clay and fires them in a kiln. She can see even the slightest flaws in the pot and will rework the clay until it is perfect. Otherwise, it will not make it through the heat of the kiln. Pressure reveals it an unfit container or vessel.
God similarly works in the lives of His people. The writers of Scripture even call Him a potter: “Thou art our Father; we are the clay and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
He also will mar the clay and rework it -- descriptive of His discipline necessary to shape and reshape the lives of those who belong to Him. He uses His Word and even ordinary pressures of life to form “vessels of honor, sanctified . . . prepared for doing every good work.”
God especially molds Christian leaders because the work He has in mind is serious work; man’s eternal destiny is at stake. Therefore, becoming a shepherd of God’s people is more than a career choice. It is a call of God to do the most vital thing.
When a young man named Timothy became a preacher, he received instruction from God through a master preacher, Paul. In two letters to him and one to another pastor, Titus, we find out what kind of mean God qualifies for such ministry, men He calls “vessels of honor.”
1] They are men of unfeigned faith. Preachers (or anyone) can’t fool God with pretense. He knows whether they believe Him or not. Without faith, no man can please God, or be in His family, never mind be called into the service of preaching. Some may take the job on their own initiative but if God is not in it, they will be empty vessels, nothing in them to minister spiritual food to the people.
2] They are men of sound doctrine. That means they know the Word of God and adhere to it. Because of that, they recognize and reject the philosophies of men and the perversities of false teachers. They warn their congregations of such but also diligently present truth as God gives it. If a preacher strays from that, God says he is a “vessel unto dishonor” having no eternal effectiveness and even leading others astray.
3] They are men of humility. Paul called himself “chief of sinners.” He knew that without the cleansing power of Jesus Christ, he would be defiled and not suitable for God’s use. Any person who attempts ministry without dealing with their sin is a dirty vessel, unable to serve the pure message of salvation.
4] They are men of prayer. A godly preacher knows his message has power because God is a prayer-answering God. Anyone who tries to preach without prayer is a dry container that cannot satisfy thirsty hearts.
5] They are men of diligent, sober BEHAVIOR who take God seriously. They are able to control their own households. They realize the importance of self-discipline and of setting a fine example. No one really listens to a message from someone who has not first demonstrated its application in his own life. Because of that truth, a love for people, and a longing to minister to them, a godly pastor will practice what he preaches.
Who cannot qualify? Those who reject God’s Word and God’s Son. Those who pervert the Word of God. Those who refuse to admit their sin and come to Him for forgiveness and cleansing. Those who do not call on God but try to do what they do without Him. Those who reject the disciplines of the Christian life and think they can serve God without obedience.
God said to Jeremiah, “My people have been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray . . . ” He said to Timothy, “Take heed to yourself . . . ”
The position of pastor is for responsible, believing, godly men, not “cracked pots” and “leaky vessels.” Those who somehow get the label without being turned on His wheel will never succeed in doing God’s will, no matter how they look to untrained eyes.