About Us (part V)
Would you want a medical student to perform a delicate surgery on you? Would you call a plumber to fix the problem you're having with the Toyota? Do you look to hire new employees with the surliest of attitudes? Obviously, the answer to all these questions is a definite 'no'. Everyone looks for certain experience, skills or characteristics (or lack thereof) when looking for the right person to take care of a job the right way. Failing to do so can have disastrous results for all involved. It comes as no surprise that God also is looking for a few good men to lead his churches. He has laid out in his word the qualities a man who joins the leadership of his church should possess. Though other tidbits can be gathered throughout scripture, in Titus chapter 1 and 1st Timothy 3, God specifically provides two different lists to ensure the right men are called to the "noble task".
To Titus, who was an evangelist working with the church on the island of Crete, Paul wrote through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that the leaders of that church (elders) would need to be the type of men who would be described as above reproach, the husband of one wife with believing children, hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined and able to teach sound doctrine and rebuke those who do not. By way of contrast, an elder must not be arrogant, quick tempered, a drunkard, violent or greedy.
To Timothy Paul gave similar standards for church leaders in Ephesus, but the differences in Timothy's list may have been to address specific circumstances in Ephesus by men with certain experience, skills or characteristics that were needed for the task at hand. While the Ephesian church (and all the rest) needed elders who were also characterized as above reproach, the husband of one wife and an able manager of his household, self-controlled, respectable (upright), hospitable, and able to teach the truth of God, the unique, additional traits listed here are gentle and having a good reputation in the community. To the list of red flags he mentioned to Titus, Paul includes warnings about those who are quarrelsome or are new converts.
Regardless of the reason for the differences, Paul is not merely creating a checklist of qualifications but is painting a portrait of a man who would be described not by just one or two of these positive qualities, and not as one who has been made perfect, but who maturely lives out the Christian faith and as under-shepherds can lead others in the same direction, that is to the "great shepherd", "the shepherd and guardian of [their] souls." His intent is to convey the type of man who is suited for service, whether he be married or single, with many children or none. With every church facing unique environments and cultures, God will call those uniquely fashioned for his purposes, but no two will look exactly the same. You will notice that Paul makes no mention of seminary training, business success, academic achievement or personal popularity. They are not to be chosen by worldly standards or with worldly wisdom.
With the elder selection/affirmation process approaching, carefully observe the men of our congregation, including those already serving as elders, and verify that Southside continues to hold to God's standards, and his alone, for his work in his church.