Posts Tagged ‘elder’

1 Peter 5

1 Peter 5 has him reminding the elders to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory”.  The label ‘elder’ is more about wisdom and maturity than age. Peter was qualified to speak because he is a fellow elder.  There is a responsibility to use our wisdom to help those in our patch.

Peter then speaks to the younger crowd and says “you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you”. His word to be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility applies to everyone.  Leaders mus still be under authority.  Only God is an authority with no other. True humility is shown by our ability to cast our care upon God. It is pride and presumption to worry and care about things that God has promised to take care of.

He reminds us that we have a very real enemy who is out to destroy us.  “Be sober-minded; be watchful.Your  adversary the devil prowls around  like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world”. Peter exhorts us to remain clear-headed (sober) and watchful, because Satan has not yet been bound and restrained.  We know what happens at the end of the war, but for now, the enemy is still out fighting battles seeking to destroy us.

And Peter wraps up his letter reminding us what lies ahead.  “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you”.  We may indeed go through some suffering, but it won’t be without a reward.  Peter lists four things that God Himself will do for us as Christ Followers if we endure and come before Him one day. But what does this glory looks like.  Guzik shared this list:

– It is the glory of purified character.

– It is the glory of perfected humanity.

– It is the glory of complete victory.

– It is the glory of being honored by a King.

– It is the glory of reflecting the glory of God.

– It is the glory of the immediate and constant presence of God.

– It is the glory of the enjoyment of God Himself.

God, who will do this great work in our lives is certainly worthy of our praise.

Titus 1

In Titus 1, Paul has some strong words for his partner in the ministry, Titus, whom he had left behind in Crete to continue the work after Paul was called away.  They were sharing “the hope of eternal life which God, who never lies, promised”.  We have the opportunity to share that same message today because it is just as valid now as when Paul was preaching it almost 2000 years ago.  Eternal life is God’s gift to mankind, offered as a gift of grace through Christ Jesus our Savior.  But even with such a glorious message, people were messing things up in the church.

After a successful evangelistic campaign on the island of Crete, there were a lot of young Christians to take care of. Paul left Titus behind to build stable churches with mature, qualified pastors for the people. Paul’s answer was to put a leadership structure in place and he charges Titus to make that happen.  “Appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination”.  Paul tells Titus to place these elders in every city on Crete – local leadership is vital to a strong and healthy faith community.

It’s important to note that Paul doesn’t give qualifications related to education or giftedness.  He doesn’t tell Titus to go find the most gifted guys to lead.  He focuses on character and a real relationship with Jesus which supersedes anything we have learned or gifts we might have. The list goes on to say “as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it”.  This is not a rigid list which demands perfection in all areas. It provides both goals to reach for and the general criteria to be used in selection.

Why is it so important to have the right leadership in place?  Because the church was facing “insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers…. upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach”.  There were some bad eggs who had the ear of people and Paul wants that shut down and the door closed tightly behind them.  “Rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth….They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work”.  Titus had to train the elders he chose to simply “shut up” these problem people.  And he had to be willing to come alongside his leaders to stand with them in shutting down those who did not teach God’s truth.

1 Timothy 3

1 Timothy 3 has Paul addressing the topic of leadership.  He specifically addresses two key positions – that of an ‘overseer’ (bishop/elder/pastor) as well as that of a ‘deacon’ (worker/server).  He begins by defining what it takes to be a good overseer.  “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task”.  It’s important to note first of all that leadership is something to aspire to.  This isn’t just a description of preachers, but those who ‘watch over’ the church.  Clarke wrote “The state has its monarch, the Church has its bishop; one should govern according to the laws of the land, the other according to the word of God.”  First and foremost any leader must be under the authority of God and His Word.

Paul goes on to make a list of characteristics that define this oversight leadership role.  “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
  • must manage his own household well, with all dignity 
  • keeping his children submissive
  • not be a recent convert
  • must be well thought of by outsiders”

Paul doesn’t focus on the structure of leadership in the church, but rather the character of the leaders themselves.  God has specific qualifications for leaders.  They shouldn’t be chosen at random, or by merely a willingness to say yes when asked to serve.  Leadership is about character.  And God gives us a very defined list of what matters to Him when it comes to character.

But it doesn’t end here with defining the character of an overseer.  Paul goes on to define the character of deacons or those who lead by serving.  These are typically not the folks who are up front but quietly doing the work of the ministry behind the scenes.  They make it happen.  “Deacons likewise:

  • must be dignified
  • not double-tongued
  • not addicted to much wine
  • not greedy for dishonest gain
  • must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience]
  • be tested first
  • prove themselves blameless
  • must be dignified
  • not slanderers
  • sober-minded
  • faithful in all things
  • the husband of one wife
  • managing their children and their own households well

There are some similarities between the two lists for certain.  Leadership matters to God, and to His church.  Some believe that anyone can serve in the church, but clearly God has very high standards for both those out front and those in the shadows when it comes to leadership.  Character matters no matter what we are doing.

Paul goes on to remind us that God rewards those who lead faithfully.  “For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus”.  Not only does God remember faithful service, but it is a great reward for us as we serve too.  Some feel the role of deacon which is often done quietly and behind the scenes is not all that important.  But the reality is that there will be far more who serve in that role that receive a great reward than overseers.  There are far more needed to serve, and we have to remember to equate servanthood with leadership.  The ultimate leader is a servant leader and the role of deacon affords both.

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