There are many fascinating aspects about what I do. Just one is the selection of the sermon material I share with you on Sunday mornings. In a typical year I will speak to you about forty-five times in the Sunday morning's worship assembly. Despite your impressions, most Sunday morning lessons are about thirty minutes long.

Part of that thirty minutes is spent challenging you to focus with me. It is my responsibility is to get your attention. I learned long ago that nothing is accomplished if I share but you do not listen.

Part of that thirty minutes is spent in what the Church of Christ calls "offering the invitation." Each lesson ends with the same emphasis. That is an interesting challenge. We genuinely want to pray with those who are struggling and to baptize those who wish to surrender their lives to Christ.

Roughly that leaves me eighteen to twenty minutes to share content intended to challenge your thinking, change your hearts, or deepen your commitment. I have only twenty minutes forty-five times a year to discuss over 4000 years of God's interaction with people; to talk about current spiritual needs in today's world; to discuss what is happening in families; to discuss what is happening the lives of individuals; to address relationship problems; and to focus on what is happening in today's society.

Constantly I am impressed with how little time that is. In one year, if you are here every Sunday, never miss a lesson, and really listen to everything I share, I have 900 minutes to challenge you to move closer to God.

  1. The decision to discuss something that I have discussed is difficult.
    1. This morning that is exactly what I want to do.
      1. In October of 1997, I shared with you a series of lessons concerning elders.
      2. We noted that what we typically call lists of qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 were actually profiles.
        1. The two lists are similar but not identical.
        2. 1 Timothy 3 was written by Paul to Timothy as a profile of the kind of godly man Ephesus needed to be an effective elder.
          1. These men would be added to an existing eldership in Ephesus.
          2. They would shepherd the church in an urban setting of a major city.
      3. Titus 1 was written by Paul to Titus who was to appoint elders in every city on the island of Crete.
        1. We examined the ungodliness of typical society on Crete.
        2. The profile depicts a man who could shepherd the church in those circumstances.
    2. In both profiles there are obvious common denominators.
      1. Both stress that the man is to be spiritually mature and spiritually stable.
      2. Both stress that he is an example of godliness.
      3. Both stress that he is a person of godly character.
      4. Both stress that he is a person of godly integrity.
    3. Notice something else that is true but seldom discussed.
      1. With the exceptions of gender, marriage, and children, nothing is expected of an elder that is not expected of a mature Christian.
      2. He is not a person of superhuman spirituality; he is a mature Christian who is genuinely godly.

  2. We are in the critical stage of selecting elders to add to our existing elders.
    1. I have already stressed to you that we are not electing officers of a civic club, and I will not repeat that lesson.
    2. I want to think with you very practically, very biblically.
      1. In the New Testament, the basic emphasis on an elder's work is this: an elder is a shepherd.
        1. He spiritually leads and guides the men and women who belong to God.
        2. The primary, God-given objective of the elders is to move every person in God's family closer to God.
      2. Who is to be an elder's example?
        1. 1 Peter 5:4 makes it quite clear that elders, the shepherds of the congregation, are under a Chief Shepherd.
        2. The Chief Shepherd is Jesus Christ who will return and give the unfading crown of glory.
      3. If the Chief Shepherd is their example, what does that mean?
        1. That means an elder is a man of compassion, just as Jesus was.
        2. That means an elder is kind as he seeks to help those who are weak and make mistakes, just as Jesus was.
        3. That means an elder has a heart filled with love for struggling people, just as Jesus had.
      4. An elder serves the God who gave us Jesus.
        1. A godly elder never wants to "turn a person off" in his or her feelings for God.
        2. A godly elder wants to "turn every person on" in his or her feelings for God.
          1. He wants every Christian to find more hope in the promises, not less.
          2. He wants every Christian to believe in Jesus more, not less.
          3. He wants every Christian to trust God more, not less.
          4. He wants every Christian to live daily life with greater confidence, not less.
    3. These are some specifics that everyone of us needs to understand.
      1. Number one: there are no perfect men. Appearances of perfection are quite deceiving.
      2. Number two: there are godly men that we can respect.
      3. Number three: there are godly men who are spiritually mature.
      4. Number four: there are godly men whom we can trust.
      5. Number five: there are godly men of integrity and character.

  3. Leading God's people is an enormous challenge and an enormous responsibility.
    1. Leadership exists on different levels, and one of those levels includes me.
      1. I understand James 3:1 with great soberness:
        "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment."
        1. I am asked, "Do you worry about what people say about your teaching and preaching?"
        2. The answer a few years ago was, "Yes."
        3. The answer today is, "No."
        4. I am much more concerned about what Jesus and God have to say about my teaching and preaching than what people have to say."
      2. Elders, and everyone in a leadership role, understand Hebrews 13:17 with great soberness:
        "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you."
        1. "Did you go looking for that lost sheep and carry him home on your shoulders?"
        2. "Did you help the weak, the struggling, the outcasts as they searched for life in Christ?"
        3. "Were you a source of love, a reason for hope, a steadying influence for the spiritually immature, the blind, and the lame?"
        4. "Because of you, did people see Me as good news or bad news?"
    2. Please read with me 1 Peter 5:1-4.
      Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

[Prayer: God, bless and guide Bill Dickey, Earl Flood, Mat Griffin, and Bob Null as they work as our shepherds. Bless Roy Dunavin, Michael Cole, Ron Lenderman, Joe Pistole, and Larry Roper as they present themselves to You and to the congregation for consideration as shepherds. Bless us as a congregation as we make our choices. Help us look at Jesus as we choose.]

May I address two questions. Question one: "Does anything concern you as we select additional elders?" Yes. Three things. (1) It concerns me that the voice of the spiritually uninformed is equal to the spiritually informed. (2) It concerns me that some might regard the selection as a matter of church politics. (3) It concerns me that some might regard the selection as a popularity contest.

Question two: "If the congregation selects all five men to be added to the existing four elders, would that concern you?" No. (1) The work exists to be done. (2) A good, effective eldership is a team. A good, effective eldership is not experienced men supported by men who are to agree with them. The challenge will be to form an effective team. (3) Regardless of the number added, it will be an adjustment. If five are added, it will be an adjustment for everyone. If just one is added, it will still be an adjustment for everyone. But, with the right hearts and the mind of Christ, God will use every person added--whether one, or two, or three, or four, or all five.

It is your choice. Some of you asked these men to consider serving. These men said they would if the congregation wanted them to serve. The elders talked to the men you nominated. Now the elders present to you the men who agreed to be presented. Now it is your choice.

Pray earnestly. Choose for God's purposes. Choose shepherds to work under the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 23 July 2000

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