Leaders are important to who we are. While we all have influence over other people (family, work, school, church), we all need others to exert their influence upon us. One of the keys to success of a local church is having good leadership—men who shepherd the church, watch out for our souls and are concerned about our spiritual well-being. God’s pattern for local churches is to have elders in every church (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). Elders are a big deal to God; thus, they need to be a big deal to us. Because having no elders raises more questions than it answers. Having no elders creates more issues than it solves. Brethren, this subject needs to be heavy on your heart and you need to be praying about it. Why is Godly leadership needed? Godly people thrive with Godly leaders in place (Prov. 29:2).
The qualifications of an elder are found in I Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. They describe a man who is a cut above the rest. A man who is an example as a husband and father (I Pet. 5:1-4). A man who will take this role seriously, and do so with compassion, wisdom, dependability and love. Let’s look at three words that scripture uses to describe a Godly leader.
“Elder” (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5): A man who is mature, seasoned, wise and not a novice. “Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days, understanding” (Job 12:12). As an elder in the church, he helps guide the congregation by exercising Godly wisdom and sharing his experiences. He’s proven himself that he’s someone worth going to for advice and listening to.
“Shepherd” (Acts 20:28; I Pet 5:2; Eph. 4:11): A shepherd knows his sheep. Leadership isn’t about privilege or power; it’s about people. A shepherd cares for the sheep. He has the deepest concern for the congregation. What does the church need right now? The shepherd protects the flock (Acts 20:28-30) because he wants what’s best for them. And the shepherd feeds the flock (I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9).
“Bishop” (Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:7; Acts 20:28): An elder is an overseer, superintendent, supervisor. This word—more than any other word—speaks to the authority of an elder. They “watch out for your souls” and will give an account for your soul (Heb. 13:17). What an awesome responsibility that is.
Being an elder is not a responsibility for the weak or unfocused. This is for someone who understands the weight of this task. Because it’s not about power or being just a figurehead. Elders are men who are constantly thinking about the spiritual good they can do for the local congregation they shepherd.