Vol. 32 Num. 41
“Thinking about Elders”
First Published: November 30, 1999
What a blessed Thanksgiving Morning service we had: strong attendance, good singing, challenging message and wonderful fellowship with family and friends. Derek Thomas reminded us all of the importance of giving thanks as he preached to us from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This verse, he said, gives us a command, a context, and a constraint for thanksgiving. It commands us to give thanks. Christians are to be thankful people and failure to give thanks for the Lord’s mercies stunts our spiritual growth. The context of this command is comprehensive. Paul doesn’t say: “give thanks when things are going well.” Rather, he says: “in everything, give thanks.” Though we may be burdened with great trials, yet we are to be a thankful people. And Paul adds a constraint to this command when he says: “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Think of it, in every circumstance of life it is God’s will that we thank him. We often wonder: “what is God’s will for my life?” The answer is sometimes hard to come by. But not when it comes to the matter of thanksgiving. We know, no matter what and no matter when, that God wants us to give thanks. May God grant us all a spirit of thanksgiving in this season of the year in which we particularly focus on his greatest gift.
We begin our elder elections this Lord’s Day, so do be in prayer about this most important of events in the life of this church. As you prepare to vote remember Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” Paul gives us much fuel for thought and prayer here.
First, he says that the eldership is a work. Do the men for whom you plan to vote, truly desire to do the work of shepherding the people of God?
Second, Paul says that elders must be “above reproach” – in other words, they must be men of impeccable Christian character. Do you see these qualities in those for whom you will vote?
Third, he says that elders must be good spiritual leaders in their homes. Paul doesn’t say: “Vote for the man most successful in his profession” but rather “seek men who are good spiritual leaders in the home, good Christian husbands and fathers.”
Fourth, Paul says the elder must be able to teach, which means that the man has a good grasp of Christian doctrine and the ability to explain it.
Finally, Paul says that the elder must have a good reputation with those outside the church. Let’s pray through these things as we prepare to vote.