Here is a trustworthy saying; If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.1 Timothy 3:1
The striking thing in this paragraph is that the very first point the apostle wants Timothy to make at Ephesus about this subject is that the office of an overseer or an elder is a very important and significant role, not to be taken lightly at all. Paul calls it
a noble task.
The appointment of elders in a local church is the Lord Jesus' own provision for leadership. This is not a human invention. Too many churches today are being operated like business corporations or country clubs, run for the benefit of their members, electing their own leaders according to democratic procedures. But in the New Testament, you never find that at all. There you see that it was Jesus Himself who set up the structure of leadership. He is the Head of the church. As such, He has designated the kind of leaders and their function within the church.
The elders had basically one primary task. Like the apostles in the church at Jerusalem, their whole task was to be accomplished through the ministry of the Word--teaching, preaching, studying, and learning the Word of God. Through prayer, they were to discover the will of the Lord Jesus, who was Head of the church, who was present in every church, and ready to direct its activities through the Spirit of Christ.
This is the great and exciting fact that the churches of our day have largely forgotten. I detect that very few people have a consciousness of Christ's being a living Lord in their midst. They don't seem to be aware that Christ is still in His church, ready to direct its activities, which will challenge the culture of the day and explore the great possibilities that arise as the changing circumstances of people's lives create hunger for deliverance from bondage. It takes a living Lord in the midst of His people to direct the activities of the church, and the elders are the human instruments for the divine direction of the church. The elders are the means, the channels, through which the Lord's innovative, surprising approaches to life are carried out and brought into being through the body of Christians who meet together.
Every Christian is in the ministry. It is not only the elders who are to do the work of the ministry. You are directly related to the Lord Jesus so that He can say to you at any time,
I have opened up a door here in your neighborhood for you. I want you to reach these people. Elders are to be watching for this. That is what the word for elder, episkopos, means:
looking over. Elders are to be looking to see what the Lord is doing with His people and utilizing the opportunities that arise on every hand. They are to be instructed in what the Lord has said in His Word so as to be able to guide this new and exciting thing that is coming into being, correcting it if need be. That is the work of elders.
Lord, thank You for the elders You have placed in my life. Remind me to pray for them and to remain responsive to You, the living head of the church.
With Christ at the helm, leadership can steer a noble course in every context. Are we earnestly praying for our leaders to follow Christ with integrity?