Too often when churches interview pastoral candidates they focus on the man's doctrinal beliefs, his theology, his preaching style, his convictions about worship, his philosophy of ministry, etc. and don't spend too much time on his personal life. The same is true about denominations when it comes time to license and/or ordain a man to the Gospel ministry. We would rather not ask these difficult questions because they make us squirm and they are embarrassing. But more than once I've heard a disciplined minister say that the reason he persisted in his sinful lifestyle so long was because no one asked him these hard questions.
The following exam is just one of the trials that our candidates for licensure and ordination undergo. This list is not perfect and it is certainly not complete but it is a good start. We have used it here in the Great Lakes Presbytery of the PCA and I hope that it will help others.
Personal Character Exam
Scriptural qualifications for those seeking to be pastors:
"The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer (elder), he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil." I Timothy 3:1-7, ESV
"This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you -- if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." Titus 1:5-9, ESV
Do you have a scandalous history or difficulty with temptation in any of these areas?
1. Substance/Drug Abuse
b. Drugs - illegal and/or prescription?
2. Sexual lust or deviancy:
b. Immorality ?
a. Do you tithe?
c. Uncontrollable desire for money?
4. Do you have an uncontrollable temper?
5. Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
6. Marriage & Family?
a. Have you ever been divorced?
b. Is your relationship with your wife above reproach?
c. Are your children involved in behavior that might bring scandal to the name of Christ?
7. Have you ever been counseled not to go into the gospel ministry?
8. Have you ever been asked to resign from a church or a ministry assignment? What were the reasons for that request?
9) Have you ever been disciplined by a church or other ecclesiastical body? What were the reasons for that action?
10) Is there any reason you can think of that we should not license you to preach within our the bounds of our presbytery? Are there any reasons why we should not ordain you? Are there any reasons why we should not allow you to transfer into our presbytery?