“Conclusion: The Elders We Need”
First Published: June 25, 2002
For the last two weeks in this column, we have been exploring the question: “What kind of elders do we need?” This coming Lord’s Day, we’ll be electing elders and so it is vital that we have a biblical answer to that question. We have already noted five things that we need in elders: (1) we need elders who want the work, not just the status of an elder; (2) we need elders who are godly men – because character, godliness, holiness is God’s great qualification for an elder; (3) we need elders who are able to teach, that is, who are able to convey God’s truth to disciples; (4) we need elders with godly homes and families, and who are aiming for godly homes and families, and (5) we need elders who are spiritually mature and not recent converts (they are “old” in the faith, though not necessarily chronologically).
Sixth, and finally, we need elders whose moral reputation is good with local non-Christians (and in our day and time, we could add, with other churches’ members as well). Paul makes it clear that elders are to be men of integrity, even and especially in this eyes of the non-church community, when he says: “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” (1 Timothy 3:7). Paul expects elders to be respectable (see point 2) not only to those within the church, but also in the estimation of those without it. The officers of the church have a witness. It is either positive or negative. Paul demands that elders not be a reproach to Christ. An elder is a Christian man possessed of evident godly character (basic Christian character reflective of conversion, sanctification, spiritual growth and maturity (e.g., the Beatitudes) and the other character qualities required here by Paul. You want to elect elders who will enhance and not embarrass the church’s witness to the watching world.
We need to be in prayer for the elder-nominees and for the election itself. Pray that God would bless us with biblically-qualified elders who will shepherd the flock of God and love the bride of Christ. Pray for those who will not be elected, that they will be protected from discouragement.
For those who will be elected, we need to be praying now for God to increase his every grace in them. We must pray for their faith to be strengthened, for their fear of God to be profound, that the love of God and Christ would be rooted in them; and that the love of the world would be removed from them, that their consciences would always be tender, and that they may live a life of repentance, that God would work in them charity and brotherly love, the grace of self-denial, along with humility and meekness, that they would be given the grace of contentment and patience, and a holy indifference to all the things of sense and time.
We must pray for the grace of hope in them – a hope in God and Christ, and a hope of eternal life; for grace to preserve them from sin, and all appearances of it, and approaches towards it; for grace to enable them both to govern their tongues well, and to use them well, and for grace to direct and animate and strengthen and assist them in their duty: that they may be prudent and discreet, honest and sincere, active and diligent, resolute and courageous, pleasant and cheerful in their duty.
And that they may do their duty in every condition of life, every event of providence and every relation in which they stand. “Brethren, pray for us, ”Paul said. And so we should for our elders.