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The Qualifications of an Elder

The stability and success of a New Testament Church will depend in great measure upon the strength of the human leadership. This does not nullify the guiding ministry of the Holy Spirit or the operative, enabling grace of God. These truths comfort and sustain us. But the organization of the church has been established by our Lord and revealed in Scripture. And this organization requires responsible human leadership. But how does one know who should lead and who should follow? What guidelines do we have in order to insure that we are making the right choices?

Interestingly, God has revealed the kind of man who is qualified to be an elder (shepherd or overseer). The remarkable observation is that the emphasis is upon mature character, not ability or promise. It would appear that godliness is God’s standard for leadership. Whatever talents, leadership traits and abilities an elder might possess is all well and good, but the bottom-line issue remains:  “What kind of Christian character does he possess?”

What follows in this brief appendix is a cursory analysis of the biblical qualifications of an elder. Two major passages give the appropriate data:  1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. In this particular study, the Titus passage is considered first, and the Timothy passage is added to the Titus data. Twenty character qualities are identified. To assist in personalizing the meaning, suggestions have been made as to how this characteristic might appear in life-situations. The “principle-in-action” merely attempts to describe (applicationally) the quality. Certainly, additional words could further describe the life-principle.

To lead God’s church requires a special man. None of us is perfect, certainly not even the leadership of the church. But the elder is characterized as a man who is making progress in these various areas of personal life. Like Paul, he would readily admit,

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead ...” (Phil. 3:12-13 NIV).

May the Lord guide us in recognizing such men to lead us in the church. Let us consider the importance of the task and trust God to enable us to seek out and confirm our elders.

Printable Elders Character Qualifications

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