“The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17).
Every congregation of the Lord’s church will have to face a time in which they will have to “select from among you… men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge…” (Acts 6:3). This passage is dealing with selecting qualified servants to accomplish a specific task, but this is the same principles we will face in selecting elders. As sure as the sun moves across the sky, time will affect our lives. Every day brings change in many different ways. When elders are chosen we all know these men will not hold that office forever. Such is the case here in Maryville as one of our elders is retiring from his secular position and will relocate to a place where he and his wife can be closer to their physical families. We have been blessed by their service and we will miss them dearly, but now we must face the challenge of selecting a godly man, or men, to step up and serve in the eldership, a task worthy of prayer.
When selecting elders discretion must be used because not every man is qualified to carry out the responsibilities of an elder. We must be careful not to allow our feelings to hinder our decision because our feelings can and will sometimes deceive us: “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Just because we like someone doesn’t qualify them for the eldership. We must examine the fruit of his life and make a decision based on what is revealed. Jesus said, “So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:20). Taking the time to make sure of the men we are choosing will benefit the church for years to come. We must trust God’s word to guide our hearts and minds in this decision.
Using Joshua as an example, we can see some godly characteristics of a true leader. First, we can see a good leader is strong and courageous (Joshua 1:8). A godly leader knows his strength comes from God and he is courageous because he has faith in God’s promises. He is able to overcome enemies and their attempts to discourage his faith because he believes in the success promised by God. He will not allow fear to prevent him from being faithful. He will not be intimidated by those who oppose the church because his focus is on the Lord.
Also we can see that a godly leader is a man whose life is built on the word of God: "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8). The church needs leaders who trust in God’s word to bring them the success God has promised. They will not get impatient for results but will “wait on the Lord” (Isaiah 40:31) to give them the power, purpose and privilege of being a leader of God’s chosen people. He will be someone whose life reveals the words he speaks.
Finally, we see from Joshua that godly leaders are men who will encourage others to serve God (Judges 2:7). Getting people to follow you is a tough task because sometimes God calls us to some undesirable places such as suffering and sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). But elders will face these obstacles in faith and will assist others in their journey also. And if the need arises, they will not be timid in admonishing those who are not staying in step with the Lord’s will. They will not be afraid to confront the disobedient, yet compassionate enough to encourage the weak. These are some characteristics we should seek in the men we are choosing to lead us.
In His Grace,