Question:What are the qualifications of an elder?
Bible Answer: God is looking for spiritually
qualified leaders to feed His flock. He is looking for men like Enoch,
Abraham, Moses, Josiah, Daniel, the Apostle John, and Paul who are seeking
and longing to know God. He wants leaders who know the truth and stand
for truth and He seeks leaders who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt
5:6). Joseph is a great example of a godly leader who ran from sin and
remained true to Jehovah God even when honored by a pharaoh. The great
saints of old were men of holiness, and men who longed to know God. They
were not just clever men who did clever things. They loved God and were
faithful to Him. God is looking for "David,"
not his older brothers. He is looking at the hearts of men, not the outward
appearances as men do. This type of leader is essential for a biblically
The Wrong Focus. God’s ministry or
“job qualifications” are outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus
1. They define the type of leader God wants. These qualifications are
true of the Abrahams, Moseses and Davids of our times as well as the
more ordinary Stephens, Aquilas, Troases and Marks. Unfortunately, many
good Christian brothers and sisters are selected for leadership, but
they fail the standards required in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. These wonderful
brethren may be selected because they are wealthy, politically connected
or influential in the church. They may be professionals, the social elite,
charismatic, educated, church founding fathers or significant givers.
But if the lives of these leaders do not meet the qualifications in 1
Timothy 3 and Titus 1, then the church has selected leaders whom God
has rejected. The prophet Samuel had the same problem that we have today.
The Lord rejected Saul as king over Israel after he had sinned. Consequently,
Samuel went looking for a king. He went to the house of Jesse; and when
he saw Eliab, he thought Eliab was the new king for Israel (1 Samuel
16:6). But the Lord responds in verse 7,
“ . . . the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not
look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have
rejected him; for God sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward
appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (NASB) 1 Samuel 16:7
While we cannot look at the heart, the list of leadership qualifications
given in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are designed to help us determine the
quality of a potential leader’s heart. Christ is not looking for
men and women who can support counseling ministries, execute wonderful
youth and adult programs, perform great musicals, or demonstrate excellence
in property management. The world can do that! If we are honest, the
church is not really needed for that. There is nothing wrong with these
activities, but the point we must not miss is that God wants to grow
Christians. What makes the church different from the world is Jesus Christ.
It is a group of sin forgiven men and women. It is love for God first
and love for the holy ones or saints, second. It should offer solid doctrine.
Some of our church leaders are offering milk, and not biblically solid
food to their people. Some leaders have the wrong focus, and many of
our churches are dying - our congregations are like their leaders.
Qualifications of Leaders. The qualifications
presented in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 describe patterns of behavior -
life style patterns expected of the Stephens, Aquilas, Troases and Marks.
God’s leader is one who has a pattern of life which conforms to
the qualifications in Timothy and Titus- not just recently, or until
just recently, or for the most part. God is not impressed when leaders
are selected and the qualifications have been watered down or the qualifications
has been applied incorrectly. For example, it is sometimes reasoned that
the early church selected immature believers as elders. Some say the
Holy Spirit did not or could not start a church with converts who had
a qualified pattern of life which had been demonstrated in the community.
But it is more likely the Holy Spirit was performing individual works
of grace in the early church such as was evidenced in the life of Stephen
in Acts 6:3 and Acts 7. One must be careful not to start explaining away
and deleting the full impact of portions of God’s Word.
The question which must be asked is to what absolute standard are the
qualifications to be applied? The answer is given in the text. Acts 6
supports the concept of selecting the best from among those who meet
the qualifications. The apostles had asked the people to evaluate their
men and then recommend only seven. Did more than seven men qualify? The
answer appears to be "yes," but the people recommended only
seven from among the best. The qualifications in Timothy and Titus are
minimal criteria. Only the best should be selected as elders. How many?
As many as are required and do qualify. These elders should some day
become fathers in the faith (1 John 2:12-14). They should be increasingly
having victory over sin. They should be seeking daily to know the Father
of Lights by knowing His word.
Conclusion:The qualifications reflect the elder’s
life style in the church, at home, in business and in the neighborhood.
Leadership is the key to the spiritual life of those in the church.They
are the reason the church grows or decays!