I remember somewhere in the mid - nineties calling an older seasoned pastor, saying to him, ”please help, I am struggling to give the church direction amidst some difficult challenges from some people”. I distinctly remember his fatherly tone and sensible biblical advice which he gave me, and it made all the difference at that time!
The church at Ephesus, led by a young pastor called Timothy needed help from Paul, his fatherly mentor.
In chapter 1 we have seen Paul settling the matter of apostolic doctrine as opposed to the heterodox teaching by certain persons in the church. He tells Timothy to charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine. The work of the pastor elder is to protect the church from spiritual wolves and to maintain sound doctrine.
In chapter 2 Paul addressed a few matters pertaining to the public worship of the church. He addressed the importance of public prayer for all kinds of people and especially those in authority. The stability of family, church and country depends on this. Furthermore, Paul addressed the matter of the public conduct of men and women in worship. We observed that his teaching is a mixture of biblical principles (which are unchanging) and peculiar cultural matters related to the unique setting of the church in the city of Ephesus, which was hugely dominated by the cult of the goddess Diana, otherwise known as Artemis of the Ephesians .
In chapter 3 Paul now addresses the matter of pastoral and diaconal leadership in the church. Here we find a vital key to the health of the church. The health of the church depends on the quality of its pastoral and diaconal leadership. At Eastside we have been making slow but significant progress in this area. I have been amazed at the resistance and apathy to the establishment of these biblical offices in the church over 27 years, but I do understand that Satan would resist our attempt to develop biblical leadership, since he cannot flourish in churches where a biblical church order prevails. Sound leadership is essential and we see this in the O.T. where the welfare of the nation was always dependent on the effectiveness of its leaders. Israel was either blessed or cursed under good or bad leaderships. The same is true for the N.T. church. The secret of good church leaderships seems to lie in the fact that we choose our elders and deacons according to the biblical pattern prescribed in 1 Timothy 3.
A STUDY OF 1 TIMOTHY 3 :1-7 Concerning Overseers
Before we look at the aspects or qualifications that would guide us in the appointment of church elders, we must consider the introductory statement in v. 1 : “The saying is trustworthy”. This is the second time which Paul makes this statement (see 1:15)and he will continue to make a series of such statements throughout the pastoral epistles. So, this is a reliable public saying, which Paul endorses here as reliable: “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” We point out that the word overseer (Gr. episkopos), pastor (Gr. poimēn), elder (presbuteros) and are used synonymously in the Bible.
Some people may be asking at this point whether the desire to become an elder or pastor lies with one’s own desire. It is clear from Scripture that the root of such a desire lies with the God who calls and equips us for such a ministry. It is also true however to say that such a call works itself out in terms of an inner desire, as was the case in my own calling to the pastoral ministry. There is a threefold process involved in a pastoral calling (i) the call of God (ii) the inward aspiration (iii) the affirmation of the church.
In this regard we must point out that whilst pastoral gifts (along with all gifts) belong to men and women alike, pastoral leadership is restricted by God to certain qualified males (described in our text). We all have the duty to choose them wisely.
The Marks of Elder Leadership :
As we survey the marks of elder leadership we take note that they relate to the moral and spiritual character of the man. “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach.” The meaning of "above reproach" is defined by the character qualities that follow in our text. cannot mean “faultless”, for no one would qualify, if that were the case. But it must mean that such leadership must be exemplary. In both of Paul’s lists of elder qualifications, the first, specific, character virtue itemized is "the husband of one wife." This means that each elder must be above reproach in his marital life.
The other character qualities stress the elder’s integrity, self-control, and spiritual maturity. Since elders govern the church body, each one must be self-controlled in the use of money, alcohol, and the exercise of his pastoral authority. Since each elder is to be a model of Christian living, he must be spiritually devout, righteous, a lover of good, hospitable, and morally above reproach before the non-Christian community.
In pastoral work, relationship skills are preeminent. Thus a shepherd elder must be gentle, stable, sound-minded, and non- contentious. An angry, hot-headed man hurts people. So, an elder must not have a dictatorial spirit. He must not be quick-tempered, quick to get embroiled in fights and arguments , or be self-willed. In addition an elder must not be a new Christian. He must be a spiritually mature, humble, time-proven disciple of Jesus Christ.
Within the lists of elder qualifications, three requirements address the elder’s abilities to perform the task. He must be (i) able to manage his family household well, (ii) he must provide a model of Christian living for others to follow, and (iii) be able to teach and defend the faith.
(i) Able to manage his family household well: The scriptural reasoning here is that if a man cannot shepherd his family, he can’t shepherd the extended family of the church. Managing the local church is more like managing a family than managing a business or governing a city or country. A man may be a successful businessman, a capable public official, a brilliant office manager, or a top military leader, but be a terrible church elder or father. Thus a man’s ability to oversee his family well is a prerequisite for overseeing God’s household.
(ii) Able to provide a model for others to follow: An elder must be an example of Christian living that others will want to follow. Peter reminds the Asian elders "to be examples to the flock" (1 Pet. 5:3b). If a man is not a godly model for others to follow, he cannot be an elder, even if he is otherwise a good teacher and manager. The greatest way to inspire and influence people for God is through personal example. Character and deeds, not official position or title, is what really influences people for eternity. We need to see authentic examples of true Christianity in action. That is why it is so important that an elder must be an example and a living imitator of Christ.
(iii) Able to teach and defend the faith: An elder must be able to teach and defend the faith. It doesn’t matter how eloquent a man may be in his speech, or how intelligent he is. If he is not firmly committed to historic, apostolic doctrine and able to instruct people in biblical doctrine, he does not qualify to be a biblical elder (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9). The New Testament requires that a pastor- elder "must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9). This means that an elder must firmly adhere to orthodox, historic, biblical teaching. Elders cannot afford to experiment with the latest religious fads and doctrines. Since the local church is "the pillar and buttress of the truth" (1 Tim. 3: 15b), its leaders must be rock-solid pillars of biblical doctrine, or the house will crumble. An elder must be characterized by doctrinal integrity. A prospective elder must have acquired for himself a solid habit of years of reading and study of Scripture. He must be able to reason intelligently from Scripture. He ought to have formulated his doctrinal convictions. He ought to be able to teach others.
A biblical eldership is a biblically qualified team of shepherd leaders. The local church must insist on biblically qualified elders, even if such men take years to develop. Unqualified elders provide no significant benefit to the church. It is better to have no elders than the wrong ones! Because of the real problem of pride, Scripture also advises us that a recent convert should not be an elder: " He must not be a new convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Tim. 3:6).
Serving Elders !
New Testament elders are to be servant leaders, and not rulers or dictators. Elders are called to live a life of service. Like the Lord Jesus , their leader example , elders sacrifice their time and energy for the good of others.
In addition to shepherding others with a servant spirit, the elders must humbly and lovingly relate to one another. They must be able to patiently build consensus. The must be able to compromise on non- essentials. They must be able to listen, handle disagreement, forgive, receive rebuke and correction, confess sin, and appreciate the wisdom and perspective of others. Older, stronger and more gifted elders must not use their giftedness to manipulate. Power struggles in the pastoral leadership endangers the unity and the peace of the entire congregation.
To be a serving elder does not imply, however, an absence of authority. The New Testament terms that describe the elders’ position,"shepherd, overseer, elder” imply authority as well as responsibility. As shepherds of the church, elders have been given the authority to lead and protect the local church (Acts 20:28-31). The key issue is the attitude in which elders exercise that authority. They depend on God for wisdom and help, not on their own power and cleverness. Biblical elders do not dictate; they direct. True elders do not command the consciences of their congregation, but they would appeal to their congregation to faithfully follow the Lord Jesus in obeying God’s Word.
True elders bear the misunderstandings and sins of other people so that the assembly may live in peace. They lose sleep so that others may rest. They make personal sacrifices of time and energy for the welfare of others. At times they face attacks. At all times they guard the church’s liberty and freedom in Christ, and to create an environment in which the members are encouraged to thrive and to develop their gifts, and so to become mature.
These are the kind of men we ought to pray for, to lead our church. Pray that God will give Eastside Baptist Church godly shepherds – even better ones than you have had.
Don’t take them for granted.
Pray for your elders.
Be involved in choosing them when such times arise.
Encourage them by your obedience to Jesus.
 See last week’s sermon : http://joachimrieck.blogspot.com/2016/07/1-timothy-28-15-men-and-women-in-worship.html
 See Acts 19:21-41 . The Temple of Artemis or Artemision (Greek: Ἀρτεμίσιον) also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis. It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey). One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction in 401 AD. Only foundations and sculptural fragments of the latest of the temples at the site remain. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Artemis]
 See also 4:9 ; 2 Tim 2:11 ; Titus 3:8
 E.g. Acts 20:28
 here, and Titus 1: 5-9