Pastors Toolbox: Our Dress

Our Dress: First Impressions Are Often The Lasting Ones
(1 Samuel 16:7)
There is a biblical truth for which I am very thankful. That truth is that men look up on the inside, but God sees the inside. For many of us the outside is not a pleasant thing to behold. But God sees our hearts, our motives, our desires, and he knows what we are all about. Sometimes this is both reassuring and humbling, especially when that which is inside is especially dirty.
But unlike God, we are not on mission. And we form impressions based on what we see on the outside. Others see our demeanor, our talk, our walk, and our dress.
Very little is said in the Bible about the way we should dress. Some who dressed in unusual ways-for example, John the Baptist–stood out. Of course, women are encouraged to dress modestly. And all of us are told to not cause offense, and this would include our manner of dress.
What, then, or the standards for preachers? Should we wear a thick, dark robe in the pool put, such as we see on occasion? Or can we wear and open-neck shirt and slacks with no tie, as we find in many of the new churches of our land? What about our daily dress? Should we wear a suit and tie or, like some southern and western preachers, shirts and blue jeans during the week?
And what about the quality and cost of our clothes? Will a JCPenney suit suffice, or should we show up in a Joseph A. Banks suit?
There are no set, specific rules. But there are some personal guidelines. Some of them are: What is the custom of the church? How do the members dress? What can our budget reasonably cover? What standard does the general community condone? What is typically modest? What can be nice enough but not draw attention to ourselves? What is the appropriate dress for the occasion? What clothes enable us to be proper stewards of God’s money?
A simple rule is: Clothes should be clean and neat, not flashy but enhancing, and neither should take attention away from nor draw attention to the pastor. Our words and walk or more important issues than our dress.
Gary Chaffins, is co-pastor at The Grace Community Church at Bigelow in Portsmouth, Ohio. He has a beautiful wife, two rotten kids, a big-white dog, and carries a large NASB.

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