Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, an early martyr for the faith, (c. 70–c. 155), was considered a model of the faithful pastor. Since he had, according to Irenaeus, direct and personal links with eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry, his testimony concerning the qualities requisite for ministry had special importance for subsequent pastoral writers. Polycarp described the compassion needed for ministry in this letter to Christians at Smyrna:
As for the clergy, they should be persons of generous sympathies, with a wide compassion for humanity. It is their business to reclaim the wanderers, keep an eye on all who are infirm, and never neglect the widow, the orphan, or the needy. Their care at all times should be for what is honourable in the sight of God and men. Any show of ill-temper, partiality, or prejudice is to be scrupulously avoided; and eagerness for money should be a thing utterly alien to them. They must not be over ready to believe ill of anyone, nor too hasty with their censure; being well aware that we all of us owe the debt of sin. If we pray to the Lord to forgive us, we ourselves must be forgiving. (Polycarp, ECW, p. 146)
Thomas C. Oden, Becoming a Minister, Classic Pastoral Care (New York: Crossroad, 1987), 10–12. I would draw your attention to this entire work, which is a wonderful discourse on the early church’s understanding of pastoral care.
For something more recent, I would direct your attention here:
- Men who have an unflinching commitment to obey the Word of God, even if it brings persecution, slander, mocking, and reproach. Though humble and meek, an elder qualified man understands that the only way to love God and give Him glory is to obey the Word of God.
Read the whole thing.