WHAT IS AN ELDER? (Shepherds 4)
In our last blogs we have seen the terms “shepherd” and “bishop” or “overseer.” Another term used for pastors is “ELDER.” In 1 Peter 5:1 we read “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed:” Peter continues in verse 2 “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers.” Here he uses all three terms: “elder,” “shepherd” and “overseer,” interchangeably, for the same person and position.
The term “elder” was a Jewish term used for the leader of a synagogue. This is the term Paul uses when he writes to those from a Jewish background. When he writes to Gentile believers, he uses the term overseer. They both refer to the same function but are used in different cultures. The elder was the commanding officer of a Jewish gathering, as in a synagogue. He, like an overseer, would make the plans and be responsible for what the group did. He didn’t have to do everything himself, he just made sure everything functioned properly. This is like a principal of a school. A principle doesn’t do everything in the school himself, but he makes sure it is all done properly and correctly.
Remember when the people would come to Moses with their problems? All day long there were so many people, Moses couldn’t help them all and couldn’t get anything else done. Do you know what his father-in-law told him to do? He said he should recruit some other men to help. That also happened when the early church was very busy giving out food and clothing to the widows. The apostles didn’t have time to read the Bible and pray. What did they do? They got deacons to do the work instead. They said “It is more important for us to study the Bible and pray” so they trained others to help the widows. Training others to help is one of our duties as a pastor as well.
Being a pastor or leader isn’t easy. God expects more of those who lead (James 3:1). But He also has special blessings for those who faithfully serve as leaders. Someone once said, “If God calls you to be a pastor, don’t stoop to be a king.” Remember, God is looking for those who are available to serve Him and lead others as they grow spiritually It doesn’t matter what skill or ability we have, He gives us the necessary gifts and wisdom to do what He wants. Christine Cain states, “God doesn’t choose the qualified, He qualifies the chosen.”
1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
Titus 1:5-6 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 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.
Do you train others to help you lead the people who are your responsibility, or do you try to do everything yourself? Pray and ask God to show you who you can help, or who can help you.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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