May, 2021

Good morning,

John T. Molloy popularized the phrase Dress for Success in his 1975 runaway bestseller by the same name. The book provided hints on how clothing can effect a man's success in business and personal life. Two years later, he published a sequel for women. The books sold millions of copies.

Molloy's concept however was not original. As early as the 7th century BC, Homer wrote, "Men get a good report by their appearance." Even Shakespeare's Hamlet agreed, saying, "The apparel oft proclaims the man."

In the early 1900's, Mark Twain jumped aboard the fashion craze and, in his best Huck Finnian style, said, "Naked people have no influence on society. Clothes make the man." From that moment on, Twain was rarely seen without his trademark white suit.

But, does our outer appearance really define who we are?

Clothing is big business … really big business. According to ING Direct and Capital One, clothes shopping is one of our top three spending habits. Interestingly enough, the research shows that women average about $4,800 per year on clothing. Men, on the other hand, average almost $2,000 per year.

It appears we have some catching up to do.

In another survey, Barclays Bank asked two thousand men to explain the disparity in gender spending. Simply put, men hate shopping. The survey revealed that 21% of men would rather mow the lawn than shop, another 10% would rather clean the toilet, and 9% said they'd rather go to the dentist than shop for clothes.

If you're wondering why such animosity, Barclays learned that 42% of men are easily frustrated when they can't find their size, 36% hate crowded stores, and 40% think waiting in line for 5 minutes to buy anything is completely unacceptable.

Despite our disdain for shopping, we still need to look presentable. After all, we're in a highly visible role, and pastors need to maintain a certain decorum. For example, it's NOT a good idea to wear fishing gear to a performance review with the board, or wear Speedo briefs during a baptismal service.

But you probably knew that.

So, what are the appropriate things for a man of God to put on, anyway?

According to scripture, here's our required wardrobe…

  • "Put on the armor of light." (Rom 13.12) This is the full armor of God—the pure and impenetrable clothing intended to protect us from Satan's supernatural powers. It also provides a true reflection of God's holiness, allowing the world to see Him in us—whether they recognize Him or not.

  • "Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love." (Col 3.12-14) This is our lifestyle apparel, and provides the look for which we want to be known. We should be as comfortable wearing these as we are in our favorite sweatshirt and jeans.

  • "Put on the new self." (Eph 4.24) This new self is not a psychologically engineered remodel of the old me. Rather it's the me that has been re-created "in the likeness of God." Incidentally, that word likeness literally means, according to what God is!

  • "Put on the breastplate of faith and love." (1Thes 5.8) The breastplate of faith is the hard outer shell of our unwavering confidence in God, regardless of the situation. The breastplate of love is the soft inner lining reminding us, "He works all things according to His will."

  • "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom 13.14) Nothing helps us attain Christlikeness more than putting Him on. Wearing the title of pastor is not an indicator of our value to the Almighty. Only when we put Him on are we displaying our true worth.

Appearance has its place in ministry, just as it does in life. However, we'll never look better than when we've put on the wardrobe God has chosen for us. Not only will it fit us perfectly, but we'll also be better equipped to fulfill our calling as pastors.


Ron Walters
Ron Walters
Salem Media Group

© Copyright 2021 by Ron Walters

Ron Walters