If a local congregation of Christians is patterned after the teachings of the Lord, then the local church has men serving as elders. In my previous article on this topic, I mentioned the significance of the role of male leadership in this regard. The men who serve as elders have a grave responsibly to teach the local congregation the truths of the Lord’s word. This is not to be passed off as a work of the preacher only; elders are not authorized to scrutinize the preacher as the preacher does all the teaching, they must have skin in the game (so to speak), that is, in the teaching being done. These men are to do the teaching just as the preacher does. The expression Paul uses in his letter to Timothy, “apt to teach” applies to both preacher and elder. In the NASB, it reads “able to teach” (2 Timothy 2:24; 1 Timothy 3:2; cf. Titus 1:9).
With this in mind let us read the words of Peter in 1 Peter 5:1-4 and consider some points worth pondering.
The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according to the will of God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away.
First, as an apostle and preacher, Peter served as an elder, meaning that preachers can serve as elders. Second, the word “tend” means to feed, that is, to teach the flock of God the holy will of God. Third, the men who serve as elders are to be examples in conduct and demeaner; they are not to be “control freaks,” but lead by example. This does not mean they have no authority as was asserted by some years ago. It simply means the authority they do have is exercised toward the spiritual health of those they lead. Fourth, these are men who have a desire to serve, not men who felt compelled to serve. Saying something like, “Okay, if I have to because there is no one else” or “If I’m needed, I’ll serve” is not a helpful sentiment for the well-being of the congregation. Fifth, while it is scriptural to pay men who serve as elders, this is not required. What is required is the ones who serve are not controlled by money to any degree. Sixth, the men who serve as elders will be called to give an account to the Chief Shepherd on Judgment Day.
It is a very serious matter of that which we are speaking.
Not all men are qualified and / or are capable of serving as elders of the church. This is a significant work and, just as it applies to the work of preaching, not all are cut out for it. By no means is this a reflection on one’s spiritual health and well-being; forget not that our sisters in the Lord have not been put in position by the Lord to serve, but their spiritual health and well-being could very well be of more depth than their brothers in the Lord. Spiritual health and well-being are crucial, but not the exclusive quality to be considered.
When I was much younger, the idea of serving as an elder was attractive to me, yet I was not qualified. In the meantime, I took it upon myself to follow the pattern of the Lord and by doing so, in time, I became qualified to serve as an elder. There are many men who have done as I have, and we need more to do the same.
The Lord’s church needs men to serve as elders after the pattern of Jesus.