I TIMOTHY 8
WHO DESIRES TO BE AN ELDER?
At the beginning of this chapter on leaders of the church, Paul makes a very important statement that most Bible teachers don’t seem to recognize the real meaning and importance of. He says, “If anyone desires to be an overseer, he desires a noble task.” He then proceeds to give the qualifications and responsibilities of such an office.
Over the years, I have seen many men who aspired to be elders. Unfortunately, many of them wanted the position in order to have power and control, or to promote some special program that they were particularly interested in. Some others just wanted the prestige of being in charge. I once had a friend who worked for a large company. When he was interviewed for an important position in the company by the president, the president asked him what his ambitions were, and what he would like to do. My friend said, “I want your job.” He got the position because large corporations want men who are ambitious and goal-oriented. This is not what the church needs, and it is not what Paul meant when he said a man who wanted to be an elder had a noble desire.
The true meaning behind Paul’s commendation, of a man who desired to be a leader in the church, must be understood in terms of his qualifications given in this chapter. All of these characteristics describe a man who is dedicated to God’s will, and who is spiritually motivated. He must be a man who cares about God’s children, and wants for them what God wants: that is, to love one another, to be unified in close fellowship and to be faithful to the Father’s will. The qualifications for an executive in a profit-making organization are certainly not the qualifications for a leader in God’s family, the church.
In today’s world, more and more church groups have the “church growth” goal. They want men in the leadership who can raise money and get more members. As a result, many elderships are more interested in the condition of the budget than they are in the spiritual welfare of the individual members of the flock. They are successful in building “mega-churches”, but the members are often spiritually starved. They may be filled with enthusiasm and very loyal to their church but lacking in the humble spirit of worship and dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ. Without a personal relationship to Him, a soul
may be enthusiastic but lacking the kind of real life that is eternal.
When one is seriously ill in the hospital, or has personal or family problems that weigh heavily on their hearts, they do not want the president of the bank, or the executive of the company to come to them. The only one who can help is one who is dedicated to the Great
Physician and healer of the soul. In the room of trouble, they desire a man of prayer and loving care, not a commander-in-chief who has
the power to make decisions for the organization.
When Paul says it is good for a man to desire the office of elder, he envisions a man who has a humble spirit, a deep prayer life, has the Lord as a personal companion in his life, and who loves and cares about the spiritual welfare of his brethren. He is not a man who loves power and control, but who is jealous for the unity and spiritual health of the family.