Novices have sometimes forgotten the basic principles of God, in their zeal to pastor. God does not set aside great principles, for us to ignore, while doing pastoral work. The wife and family are our first and most important ministry, and secondly the church family. To get priorities tainted will lead to a novice becoming a stumbling stone, instead of a help to the church.
In this same passage, where we are told that a pastor must not be a ‘novice’,
we see instructions of ‘the husband of one wife’.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 (KJV)
1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Some have thought this means that the pastor cannot be a widower, some have tried to interpret it that the pastor has to be a ‘man’. Some have tried to say that it means that no divorced person can be a pastor. All those miss the truth of the passage.
In that time, there were many who had more than one wife. It is not talking about ‘divorce’ for divorce makes the ‘wife’ to no longer be a ‘wife’, so when a man remarries, he is then again the ‘husband of one wife’. It does not mean a widower cannot be a pastor, but the widower is no longer bound by marriage. It does not even mean the pastor has to be a man, but the passage is stated as this, due to the fact that there was not the practice of women ever to have more than one husband. There were some saved to Jesus in that time, who when saved already had more than one wife. Those, were obligated then to take care of those multiple wives, but Paul is saying that those who were obligated to more than one wife, should not take on the ministry of pastoring.
Having even one wife is an obligation. It is a plan of God though for a person to be able to have a wife as a help meet.
Genesis 2:18 (KJV)
18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
God looked at Adam, and decided that it was not good, that he be alone. Adam had fellowship with God daily, walking in the garden with God literally. Still, man is made to need fellowship, companionship, and often needs help intellectually, morally, and physically.
The word ‘help meet’ is from the Hebrew (5828) ay'-zer. The English Words used in KJV for it are "help" (19 times), and "help meet" (2 times). Eve would be this ‘helper’ to Adam, and Adam would likewise be a helper to her.
In the ministry, God bestows many supernatural empowerments. They are vital to doing the works that God has us here to do. Those are wonderful and mighty. Yet, mankind (male and female) are designed by our Creator to need personal help. Someone that we can confide in, someone we can intercede with, someone who will know our human and frail reality, so as to be a compassionate helper in our struggles.
A novice often forgets the obligations and blessings of marriage. Too often the work of pastoring causes novices to neglect marriage, neglect the wife, neglect the children. Their zeal in their pastoring has caused them to denigrate the marriage relationship to second place, instead of remembering that their first obligation is to the wife and family.
No one much discusses the Christian, Biblical teachings of marriage. Too many Christians have the Hollywood, soap opera, ideas of marriage. Who's the boss, what are the roles, how do we delegate, etc etc are the questions and debates. That is rare, unfortunately. Rather, we see many horrible examples of what the world calls 'marriage', that, to many, it makes marriage to be as desirable as a bath in a pig sty.
So, how do we purify the polluted idea and concept of marriage? What does the novice have to learn and remember, so that he can mature beyond the level of novice?
Since marriage is God’s creation, we will have to ask Him how to uncorrupt the concept of it. The plan of God for a marriage is so corrupted by sinful examples of novices. Marriage as God planned it did many things. Before man was created very long, God announced it 'is not good for man (mankind, not just males, but for females too) to be alone. Adam had daily fellowship with God Himself, great fellowship. Why was that not enough? Why was God not jealous of sharing Adam with a mate?
Marriage is not in competition with our relationship with God. God knew, that marriage, the way God wants it, aids our relationship with God. It does not hinder or take away from it, it, if done the way God designed for it to work, adds to it. The Word says that when a man finds a wife, he finds a 'good thing'. Yet, many today, are spreading the idea that it is a 'bad thing'.
Marriage is not a ‘bad thing’. It is of great interest to God, for He designed it, planned for how it should work, is willing to bless it, and wants invited into each marriage. He is angered at the abuse of it. He wants novices to grow in understanding that the marriage of the pastor should be set forth as an example, as a sermon is the teaching of God’s plan, the pastor should realize that his/her marriage is an illustrated sermon.
"What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.’
God has joined each couple ever married together. He loves the relationship and covenant of marriage. He wants invited into each such twosome, to make it a threesome. Marriage is God’s business. Christ instructs us that the husband is to love the wife in the same way in which He loves the church. (Ephesians 5:25) He also instructed that the wife is to reciprocate this great love from the husband, in the same appreciation she does to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:32-33)
Marriage is more than an institution. It is a joint relationship of a man, of a woman, and ideally, of the Lord Himself as the Head. This threesome can do great things, can make a house more than a home, make it a temple. The marriage, as designed by God, is beautiful.
In counseling women, a male pastor needs his wife along with Him. He needs to be sure that his being a godly, sanctified man of God, does not tempt the woman he is counseling to admire him, become attached to him as a man, lest the marriage of the novice pastor, and of the woman counseled become hindered.
If the wife is not available, or the pastor is unmarried or a widower, the marriage of the woman being counseled needs to be likewise guarded from being corrupted by errant passions.
It is a lesson that long ago my father ( a pastor ) taught me. Women can be easily tempted to admire a pastor, due to his understanding, compassion for their plight, and Biblical guidance through the Word. Their home life may have been in turmoil, their loneliness and hurts may make them vulnerable. The pastor likewise can be lonely, caring, and thereby susceptible to ploys of the devils to lead him astray.
Safeguards of counseling, of having a second party present, or nearby, to check in often during the session is wise.