Text: 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus1:6-9, 1 Peter 5:1-4
An elder in the church is someone who has been appointed by the Holy Spirit and has accepted the responsibility of being a role model to those less mature and less experienced in the church. Someone who is willing to watch over others and guide them towards spiritual maturity. A church elder is one who by the grace of God has attained an older age, has experience and maturity in the knowledge of the Word. He is someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit. He is a person that is valued for his wisdom and who accordingly holds a particular position of responsibility in a Christian group.
The characters of an elder as defined by Apostle Paul (Titus 1:5-9):
"An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Not overbearing, not quick tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain, must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught." The position of an elder is a position of honour and responsibility. Much is expected from an elder and he is to live above board.
Paul admonished Titus to appoint elders whenever he planted a church. Acts 14:23 says, "Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and with prayer and fasting committed them to the Lord in whom they had put their trust." They recognised the importance and usefulness of elders in the church. Elders have a role to play in the church. The elders are expected to keep watch over themselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers. To be shepherd of the church of God which he bought with his own blood. Acts 20:28
Some of them are in the work of preaching and teaching. 1 Tim 5:17, "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." An elder is empowered to pray for the sick. James 5:14 says, "Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord." An elder is expected to be a man of faith as he is giving the grace to anoint, pray for the sick and to lay hands-on people. 1 Tim 4:14. They are to make room for peace, to lead by examples, to care for the spiritual and physical needs of church members, hold on to and encourage others by sound doctrine and to refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:9. To be teachers of good things and ensure that the Word of God be not blasphemed. To feed the flock, tend, guide, protect, care for the church members and witness for Christ. Older women are to teach the younger women godly virtues. Because elders are given a place of honour and responsibility, they must be clothed with humility and be good examples by all standard to the flock. The younger ones in the church are admonished to submit to them and to treat older women as they would treat their mothers and older men as they would treat their fathers. Paul, Peter, John, the disciples of Jesus Christ were good examples of elders.
'Elder' is not just a title- it is a call to duty. So be alive to your duty and do it as unto the Lord.
Paul admonished in 1 Peter5:1-2, "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ's suffering who also will share in the glory to be revealed. Be shepherds of God's flock as God wants you to be....And when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away."
Brethren, as an elder, there is a reward if you play your role as God wants you to.
I realise that being an elder is a privilege. It is not just a title but a position of honour and responsibility and by God's grace I am one. I am to be a role model and a witness of Christ. Dear Lord, grant me the grace to live according to your standard and the grace to be able to carry out these assignments successfully as you want it. That I may also receive the Crown of Glory in Jesus' name I pray. Amen.