The pastoral epistles are very clear on the qualifications for pastoral ministry. While those qualifications are not given under the expectancy that any man, all the time, flawlessly perfects those stipulations, they are designed to generally typify or characterize his life. When someone’s life isn’t over-all typified by those requirements, their local church is to officially remove the person from ministry by following the guidelines set forth in Matthew 18 or 1 Timothy 5:19. In some cases, the offense (like sexual immorality) may be so grievous that it requires immediate removal from the body (like in 1 Corinthians 5), or intentional schismaticism (trying to destroy or divide the local church) in Titus 3:10. In any case, the Scripture is very clear.
Perry Noble has been removed from ministry for alcoholism (which disqualifies a minister in 1 Timothy 3:8) and for marital indiscretions, which led to his divorce (which also disqualifies a minister in 1 Timothy 3:2 and 1 Timothy 3:5). The man is not a husband to his wife, and cannot be a daily father to his children. He refused to leave the pulpit of other churches, at which point his home church had to reiterate to the congregation that he remained unrepentant and therefore unqualified to preach.
To rebuild his reputation, Noble has hired a Hollywood Public Relations “crisis manager,” who has also worked for Tullian Tchivdjian, Michael Gungor and Lindsay Lohan. Last night, Pulpit & Pen was hacked and an article critical of Noble was “Canerized,” and within minutes, his crisis manager contacted websites that carried our stories and told them their lawyer had pressured us to remove it and we did so willingly and apologized – a clear lie (and revealed his publicists’ identity as Hunter Frederick) – and the article was removed by the hacker (we have since taken security measures to keep it from happening again, and have notified the proper legal authorities).
Today, Noble posted an article that very explicitly says he is unqualified for ministry:
I AM UNQUALIFIED!!!
Back in July it was announced I have filed the paperwork to one day begin Second Chance Church.
Since that time there have been those in the online world who have been quite consistent in communicating to me I am “unqualified.”
I’ve intentionally not responded to that accusation in particular until now…and to that accusation I say…
Those who are calling me “unqualified” are absolutely correct. Taking a look at this Scripture I will point out why I feel unqualified…
I Timothy 3
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach,
All so often in my life I was absolutely NOT above reproach
I have, on more than one occasion, gossiped about others.
There have been way too many “not so clean” jokes I’ve either told or laughed at.
There is no doubt I did not tell the truth at the DMV when they asked about my weight.
…faithful to his wife…
I really did think I was in the clear on this one until I remembered…
Jesus said if we even look at another woman lustfully – that we’ve committed adultery with her in our hearts…and on more than one occasion I’ve looked (whether in person or on a movie/television show).
So – obviously I failed here as well.
Not me – I literally became angry at a guy who was in front of me at the grocery store the other day…in the 10 items or less line…who had 17 items (yes, I counted!)
I flashed my brights the other night on the interstate at a car the other night (they were going SLOW in the left lane) – when they didn’t pull over I passed them on the right and gave them a dirty look!
When I saw that the person mentioned above was old…I did not feel compassion but rather said to myself, “those people should have to take a drivers test!”
The other day I went to lunch with a friend and was FULL…but when the waitress asked if we wanted dessert I said “yes” (telling myself I would only have a few bites) – after finishing the dessert I felt HORRIBLE!
Just a question here—if discipline and self control go hand in hand—then what about those in ministry that are overweight or obese?
Needless to say I have failed in this area in more ways than one!
Definitely dropped the ball here as I would much prefer to meet someone at a restaurant than have them at my house. I love my privacy – and you can’t sit around in your boxers and watch TV if other people are around (well – I guess you can – but it would be a bit weird!)
…able to teach…
I would like to think I was/am able to teach – but confession here: I’ve always felt “less than” when it comes to teaching…and know without a doubt there are way smarter people out there who can teach so much better than me.
As I was working on my messages this morning for Freedom Church in the U.K. this weekend I had an overwhelming sense of fear that I simply was not going to be able to clearly communicate what I feel needs to be communicated – and that someone else would be much better suited for the task.
3 not given to drunkenness
…not violent but gentle…
Recently in the airport I cut a guy off accidentally and he mumbled something under his breath to me – before I knew it I said out loud, “Did you say something?” He kept walking and I said louder – “No, seriously, do you have a problem?” (AND…I was on my way to consult with a church, definitely not my proudest moment.
And I haven’t punched anyone lately – but have DEFINITELY wanted to a few times—which…Jesus said if we are angry at someone in our hearts then we are guilty – so – definitely missed the mark here.
I love to argue way too much at times…especially over things that really matter…like college football, politics and the end times!!!
AND…sometimes I forget that other people are entitled to an opinion other than mine, so instead of listening to them I try to get them to agree with me–and when they don’t see things my way I become a tad bit upset.
…not a lover of money…
Guilty here – I was homeless for a while in high school – and I work really hard because I never want to go back to that place – however, I have been guilty at times of obsessing about how much I may make rather than the difference the Lord may want to use me to make.
…4 He must manage his own family well…
Definitely a failure here.
…and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect…
Charisse is an AWESOME young lady – but – she’s 10!!!
I am honestly not sure if she respects me at all–but my prayer is one day she will.
5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
6 He must not be a recent convert
Definitely blew this one as I was on staff at a church less than a year after becoming a Christian!
…or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil…
So true – my early church staff position definitely made me self-righteous, prideful and arrogant.
WHICH is so dangerous – because the people who killed Jesus were not the tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners…but the group of people who went to Bible study every single day (Pharisees!)
7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
I think I have a good reputation with outsiders at this point…but it hasn’t always been this way—especially in college where I believe I drove more non-Christians away from Christ than I realized.
6 An elder must be blameless
Definitely not blameless – and – thanks to social media I’ve become aware of sins I’ve committed that I was completely unaware of!
…faithful to his wife…
Already covered this
…a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient…
Once again – this one is a win…but she’s 10…she’s never asked to do “dine & dash” on a Waffle House date, but it COULD happen one day!
7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless
Definitely would NOT call myself “blameless”
Oh crap – when I am passionate about something I can definitely be overbearing.
…not given to drunkenness…
(Been sober for over 14 months by the way!)
Dealt with this already – reminder – not violent externally…but…definitely internally!
…not pursuing dishonest gain…
Think I’m good here – no drug deals, etc – BUT…I have bought a lottery ticket or two…that probably disqualifies me here!
And if the lottery ticket doesn’t–then I am sure the few hands of Black Jack I’ve played in Vegas does!
… 8 Rather, he must be hospitable…
A big fat no here (already covered!)
I even get angry when someone wants to have “a bite” of my food…or “a few” of my fries!
…one who loves what is good…
While I do love puppies, sunsets and the Clemson Tigers….
…there are those who would argue I love some things that are NOT good (like smoking a cigar) – so – definitely not doing THE BEST job here.
…who is self-controlled…
Have battled with self control all of my life (and – so have overweight/obese ministers!)
Don’t think anyone who knows me would refer to me as “holy!”
Can’t seem to give up sweets.
Seriously, a “Hot & Now” sign absolutely pulls me in!
…9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught…
Have definitely been taught things I have not put into practice
…so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine…
LOVE encouraging people (but often that is called just making people feel good—which has always confused me…am I supposed to make them feel bad?)
…and refute those who oppose it…
I probably don’t “refute” others that well as I’ve discovered that there is this gigantic log in my eye–which prevents me from getting the plank out of the eyes of others.
Like I said before – I absolutely do not dispute the fact that, according to the letter of the law laid down by Paul in this passage…I am unqualified.
(AND…I am POSITIVE there are those on Facebook who will be more than happy to fill in the gaps of the things I left out that point even more so to the fact I am unqualified…O God to be as awesome one day as those who attack others on social medial!)
However, if we are going by the letter of the law (and not the spirit of the law) – I honestly don’t anyone on the planet who is batting 1,000 on all of these qualities.
(It would seem Christians have became awesome and pointing out the sins of others in order to not have to deal with their own!)
As I’ve said before – I have never honestly felt qualified in my life, but was reminded recently in a sermon I listened to that God does not call the qualified, but qualifies the called.
I may be unqualified…
But I am also UN-wavering in the fact people who fall down need a Second Chance, and I’m called to start a church not for perfect people, but for those who want to get back up!
I am UN-willing to allow those who don’t know my story to try to tell me what my future should look like.
I am UN-able to give my life to anything other than the local church.
I am UN-phased by those who want me to quit.
I am UN-afraid of the future God has for me.
And I think it is UN-real that God still wants to used a messed up, busted and unqualified guy like me to take the Gospel to as many people as possible.
So, what Noble was intending to do is say, “No one perfectly fulfills the qualifications for pastoral ministry, if by that, you mean flawless perfection.” But what Noble actually does is go through some pretty telling details about his over-all, systemic and repetitive failing in these ways. When he mentions 1 Timothy 3:5 (If a man cannot run his own household well, how can he manage the household of God?), Noble simply writes, “Good question!”
And then…Noble does something inexplicable. He says, “I may be unqualified, but…” He then goes on to talk about second chances and starting a church for imperfect people (which, by the way, is every church Christ ever built). He goes on to say that he is unphased by those who want him to quit. Of course, God wants him to quit. The Scripture is pretty explicit.
God does have a future for Perry Noble that hopefully does not include casting him into hell. Hopefully, God’s plan for him is to reunite with his wife and be a father. Hopefully, God’s plan for him is repentance. But, God’s plan for Perry Noble is not to ignore Scripture regarding qualifications for pastoral service.
You can read his admission here.