Family Leaders
John D. Telgren

     Leaders in the Lord's church are called "elders" in scripture.  Other words for these leaders are "Pastor", "Shepherd", or "Overseer".  In many denominational churches this distinction has been muddled.  The "elder" has been confused with the "preacher", or "evangelist", hence many denominations will even call their preacher the "Pastor", which is incorrect.  Elders have a distinctive function in the Lord's church which include many things that a "preacher" does, but includes much more.
     Qualities to look for in appointing elders are found in the books of Timothy and Titus.  Typically it has been taught that if one "desires the office of an elder" it is a fine work he desires to do. (I Tim. 3:1)   It is stated that a qualification for being an elder is that he has to
"desire" it.
   I do not like the way this passage is typically translated because it aids in a grave misunderstanding.  The word "
office" is not in the text but is probably supplied by translators in order to smooth the English.  It more literally would say something like "He who desires an elder(ship)", which I would translate, "He who desires the ministry of eldering..."
     I have heard of many people in past years express a "
desire" for the "office" of eldership not understanding that it was not an "office" in the typical sense. Many that I have heard express desire really had no desire for being an elder.
     Am I judging others?  I don't think so.  Jesus said "do not judge according to outward appearance, but use righteous judgment"  (John 7"24).  What they desired was based on a misunderstanding.  They desired the
"office" of eldership, or the "position" of eldership.   
     However, those that I saw that I felt
truly desired the "ministry" of eldering did not necessarily state it verbally.  There were already deeply involved in shepherding ministry.  They were concerned about the spiritual welfare of others and it showed not in empty words, but in deed and in truth.  They were always reaching out to people with open ears, gentleness, and love.  At the same time, they were mature, firm but gentle and full of empathy.
     Eldering, or Shepherding is not just an "
office", but a "ministry" with great responsibility.  Just because one says he "desires" the "office" of eldership does not mean he has "met this qualification".  It will be as plain as day if one desires the "ministry" of eldering, because he will already be heavily involved in "eldering".  Appointment as an elder is a formal recognition of this, among other things.  As a result, he has earned the ministry of being responsible for the well being of the entire congregation.
     If you are to ever be an elder, then you will naturally desire the "ministry" of shepherding the sheep, which will be
openly evident in your conduct and daily life.
      Everyone needs to know how the elders fit in to the body.  Everyone needs to know the elder's responsibility and their own responsibility to the elders.  Everyone needs to know how deacons and preachers fit into a congregation with elders.  Be looking for this class in the near future