The Most Important Quality for an Elder?
It is April once again. That means it is time to make a few decisions. First, whether to kill the moss in my back yard – it is nice and soft, and it is green – but it’s not grass. Second I have to tune up the lawn mower ( it is making this horrific sound – I think something is bent). And third, it is time to suggest names for the office of elder and deacon in my congregation, and if you also go to a Church that has terms for office bearers, it is probably time in yours as well.
I was recently involved in a conversation that started like this, “What do you think is the most important quality for an elder?” Which turned into a topic of great debate, and forced us into the Word. It is also a nice idea for a blog post.
So what do I think is the most important quality in an elder? Well, let’s look at the qualifications for elders.
I Timothy 3:2-7:
“Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
From this passage, which do you think is the most important trait of an elder? I submit to you that the most important trait of an elder is that he is a godly man.
Wait. That is not on the list.
Ok. I concede that point, it is not on the list. So, what do I mean by godly? That he is a man of faith and prayer. His knees should be calloused, and his Bible worn and frayed, because without godliness, without prayer, without fervently seeking Jesus Christ and relying on Him alone, all the other duties and qualifications in this list will be worthless.
Now, I should also add a disclaimer – Godliness is not the only requirement. Not every member who is Godly is qualified to be an elder. It takes more than just being godly to be an elder in the church. For example, new converts may be quite Godly, but they are disqualified based on their inexperience. Likewise those who are unable to teach, or who have little knowledge cannot be an elder – they may have faith to move mountains and may love to serve and give everything away for the glory of god and the benefit of the church, but they are disqualified on that point. And so on.
So while this post was about elders, please seek out godly men who meet the criteria for elder and deacon, and submit their names to your church council for review. Unfortunately, some of us are more concerned with how the local sports team is doing, working in the yard killing moss, tuning up our noisy lawn mowers, updating Facebook statuses, gaming or pinning or tweeting or blogging or (insert favourite pastime here) rather than being concerned with the things of the Kingdom…especially with electing elders and deacons who will be held in account of how they keep watch over us.
So please prayerfully seek wisdom in the process and write a letter, or at least fill out that nomination form that was in your church mailbox…seriously, you just have to write down some names and sign it. It is almost too easy. See that pen over there? Pick it up…write some names down…after you get on your knees…