The Bible gives three terms that define the work of the eldership. The title elder shows that he is experienced and considered a leader worthy to follow. The label of shepherd or pastor shows that he is willing and able to feed and protect the congregation in spiritual matters. And the title of overseer shows that he has the responsibility of directing the activities of the congregation.
The qualifications of elders are found in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3, their relationship to the members is seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 and Hebrews 13:17, and their authority is seen in 1 Timothy 5:17. But in today’s church perhaps an elder’s most important task is leadership. Too often, preachers or other influential members fill the vacuum and void of leadership left by elders who fail to fulfill their role. When this happens, God’s pattern for church life is not followed. Leadership is a willingness to take the initiative on behalf of the church and to direct them in ways that lead to spiritual growth.
In using the acrostic L.E.A.D., we see four ways that elders lead the church effectively today. They are to Love. In being tender and kind as a shepherd, gentle and wise as an elder, and loving God first as a leader, they are to put the needs of others before themselves. Next they are to Exemplify. In studying and following the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, they are to have a track record of righteous living. They should lead a life where they can say, “Follow me as I follow Christ” 1 Corinthians 11:1. Also, they must Admonish. Realizing the care attached to the warning, as a conscientious shepherd they must be alert to the danger of “sin in the camp.” They will understand that the sheep need a clear and understandable voice from the leadership warning of the consequences of sin. Lastly they are to be Decisive. Confusion and scattering lies in the wake of an indecisive shepherd. The weight of years of experience has strengthened the backs of men who boldly lead the church to follow Christ, even when some decisions are unpopular. Strong congregations rely on good, godly leaders. The faithfulness of Christians rests in the hands of a capable eldership. Join with me today as we pray for our elders to L.E.A.D.