Why Would Anyone Want to Be An Elder Today?
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially
those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You
shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of
his wages.” Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of
two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of
all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. I solemnly charge you in
the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain
these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. Do not
lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins
of others; keep yourself free from sin.
(1 Timothy 5:17-22)
These were Paul’s instructions to Timothy—father to adopted son, preacher to
preacher, mentor to trainee. From the beginning, it was difficult to be a godly
man who deeply cared about God, God’s people, and be an elder. Elders were
humans who made mistakes. They, too, lived with temptation. They, too, could be
victims of bias.
Little has changed. Members’ expectations often exceed an elder’s time or
training. Situations increasingly are complex. Demands are relentless. Critics
rarely have the information elders have. What appears to be simple is never
simple. In crisis moments, elders frequently are in “no win” situations they did
not produce. While caring, they can be accused of not caring. They protect
confidences as if no confidences exist. Also:
1. They serve an all volunteer organization as if they were paid C.E.O.’s of a
2. Members appoint them for spiritual maturity, but treat them as immature if
they “do not agree with my view.”
3. They are expected to study, but keep quiet if what they learn conflicts with
4. They are expected to produce money to fund anyone’s passionate cause.
5. They are expected to have and use people skills no one possesses.
6. They are expected to understand those who misunderstand them.
7. Their families silently endure grief and pay prices few know.
So why would any man agree to be an elder? For the same reason a godly person
agrees to be a deacon, a business management team participant, a leader of a
program, a teacher, or an involved member. (1) They love God. (2) They love
people. (3) They understand God’s purposes are bigger than the physical
realities of right now. (4) They seek to use their gifts to serve God rather
If Christians are to benefit from selfless, capable leadership, we consciously
need to produce the joys of leading rather than the pain of discontentment.
Respond to godly leadership. Get involved. Have a servant heart rather than a
controller’s mind. May godly people never decline leadership because of
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 10 January 2008
Link to other
Writings of David Chadwell