Shepherds 6 Image






Shepherds in the Church

Part 6

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • November 11, 2018, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2018


  1. In any of our congregations,
    1. if I were to announce that I would be speaking on the eldership,
    2. the universal expectation would be
      1. that I am going to speak on the qualifications, and
      2. of all the so-called qualifications,
        1. everyone would expect me to address one more than any other one:
        2. Does he have believing children, or in Paul’s words:

          4 …one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence… (1 Timothy 3.4).

          6 …having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination… (Titus 1.6).

          1. Some focus even further attention
          2. on whether having only one child qualifies him.
  2. Some people go to another extreme and
    1. say there is only one qualification:
    2. That he desires the work.


  1. An Elder Is More than the Lists in First Timothy and Titus
    1. When it comes time to appoint elders in a congregation,
      1. the typical method is to provide a congregation with a list of the items
      2. that Paul gave to Timothy and Titus.
        1. We then ask the membership to check off the various traits.
        2. We also ask whether you can find any reason
          1. why this man should not serve, then
          2. to provide the reason and
            1. to sign your name.
              1. We invite people to dig up dirt.
              2. We start our relationship with him on a suspicious note.
            2. We continue that way through the years,
              1. as though we are saying:
              2. I could not find any dirt, but I will later.
    2. It creates an “Us vs Them” mentality.
      1. Solomon by the Spirit did not speak well of this attitude:

        27 An ungodly man digs up evil,
        And it is on his lips like a burning fire.
        (Proverbs 16.27)
      2. So instead of honoring them,
        1. we end up waiting for them to do something wrong.
        2. We treat them like we do our politicians.
          1. We have freedom in America to blast our leaders and
          2. we carry that thinking over into the church,
            1. disregarding what the Bible says about honoring leaders,
            2. even when they are in error.
  2. The Overall Quality of the Man
    1. If you read Paul’s words to Timothy and Titus
      1. you will discover that the overriding quality of a man to serve as an elder
      2. is that of blamelessness or of being above reproach.
    2. What does that mean?
      1. The way that I understand it is this way:
        1. He sins, but he does not live in sin.
        2. People who know him know that he lives in righteousness.
      2. If someone charges him with a sin,
        1. even if the charge is true,
        2. we know that it does not typify his life.
          1. In fact, it shocks us when we learn of it, because
            1. it just does not sound like him.
            2. It is out of character for him.
          2. Therefore, we continue
            1. to love him,
            2. to honor him, and
            3. to let him lead us.
    3. Consider how Paul presented these qualities to Timothy and Titus.
      1. Paul gave us a picture of a man above reproach
      2. when he wrote to Timothy and Titus:

        1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3.1–7).

        5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict (Titus 1.5–9).

        1. What does a man,
          1. whom we are contemplating for the eldership,
        2. look like?
      3. We say or rather Paul says, he has to be blameless or be above reproach.
        1. Well, here is a picture of a blameless man
        2. who is above reproach.
          1. Paul could have written so much more, but
          2. he gave us enough that we might recognize the right man.
            1. He could have said that he is merciful, wise, forgiving, but
            2. he did not because he gave enough information.
  3. These Are Not All There Is to Elder Qualifications
    1. The lists are not the same.
      1. When Titus went to set things in order on the island of Crete,
        1. initially. or perhaps he never had what Paul wrote to Timothy.
      2. And Timothy in Ephesus
        1. did not have what Paul wrote to Titus.
      3. Could Titus still set in order the things that were wanting,
        1. and appoint elders in every church?
      4. Could Timothy appoint more elders at Ephesus without having the specifics of what Paul wrote Titus?
    2. Do you think an elder should be a man of prayer?
      1. Yes, of course, everyone says.
      2. However, Paul did not say anything about that to Timothy or Titus.
        1. When congregations make their lists for members to check off,
        2. should they add whether he is a man of prayer?
          1. How can he be a shepherd of God’s flock,
          2. if he is not a man of prayer?
            1. But here is my thing.
            2. Paul said nothing about a shepherd being a man of prayer!
    3. When I think of an elder/shepherd,
      1. the first image I get is that of a wise man.
      2. Do you want the shepherds of the church to be wise?
        1. To me, it is insulting to you for me to ask that question.
        2. Of course, he must be a man of wisdom.
    4. I could keep listing more.
      1. Do you think an elder should be a man who listens to people?
      2. Should he be able to take criticism?
      3. Should he be willing to go the extra mile?
      4. Should he know how to reconcile brethren in disagreement?
    5. None of those things are found in what Paul wrote to the two preachers!
      1. Must a man be the things that Paul mentioned to the two preachers?
      2. Yes, but do not limit your thinking on an elder
        1. to those lists only.
        2. See them as giving you an idea of what it means to be above reproach.
          1. Include what else the Bible says about being a Christian.
          2. Does he produce the fruit of the Spirit?
          3. Does he live the Beatitudes?
          4. Can you see the Christian Graces in his life?
  4. What We Have Done by Focusing on One Item
    1. How much talk have you heard
      1. that brother so-and-so should be an elder because
      2. he is gentle or just or not violent and so on?
    2. Everyone knows about the children issue, but
      1. it is as though the other items do not matter.
      2. When we look for a man in congregation,
        1. our first—and often only question—is:
        2. Does he have believing children?
    3. Someone says, Of course he is supposed to be gentle, Don.
      1. That is my point on both of these texts.
      2. They present what should be an obvious picture of a church shepherd.
    4. However, if a man has believing children,
      1. in our minds that trumps all other issues, because
      2. that is the only one I have heard brethren ask about a man.
        1. In fact, he may lack totally characteristics
        2. that he should have as a Christian, but
          1. if he has believing children,
          2. we will consider him as an elder.
    5. If he had believing children,
      1. even if he is relatively young, or
      2. just a young middle-aged man,
        1. we think he is ready for the eldership,
        2. although he is not “elder,” “older.”
    6. He might be a younger man or a middle-aged man,
      1. thus not an older man, but
      2. if he has believing children,
        1. we grab him.
    7. Some think this only matters if the children are still at home.
    8. Then some think that having only one child disqualifies him.
      1. Paul said “children” to both evangelists, and
      2. “children” is plural, they argue.
        1. If that is your belief, I have a question for you:
        2. How many children did Sarah have?
          1. You would have to argue
          2. that she did not have children, she had a child, Isaac.
            1. Genesis 21 shows
            2. that she was under the impression that she had children:

              5 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son [singular] Isaac was born to him. 6 And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” 7 She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age” (Genesis 21.5–7).

              1. Having a child qualifies as having children.
              2. If you met a young married couple and
                1. you asked whether they have children,
                2. if they only have one child thus far,
                  1. should they answer you
                  2. that they do not have children?
      3. There is a time to split hairs, and
        1. a time to be sensible.


  1. If a man fits the picture that Paul has painted for us,
    1. does that mean he is ready to be an elder in the church?
    2. No, not necessarily, because
      1. being an elder, a shepherd, in the church is more than
      2. these so-called qualifications.
  2. Consider whether he knows how to do the job.
    1. Years ago I heard David Barton speak here in Grants Pass.
    2. Of course, he encouraged Christian people to enter the political process.
      1. However, he cautioned
        1. that he knew of some good people with good intentions but
        2. who did not know what he was doing.
      2. David Barton motioned over to Gordon Anderson,
        1. who has been mayor Grants Pass and a state legislator,
        2. to see if he knew of people like that, and
          1. with an embarrassed look
          2. he said that he did.
    3. So read Paul’s lists,
      1. find someone who fits the bill, and
      2. make him an elder,
        1. whether or not he knows how to lead people.
        2. You will soon discover that just being a good ol’ boy does not cut it.
  3. Daniel 1 shows the wisdom of King Nebuchadnezzar
    1. when he choose Israelite men to serve in his palace:

      3 Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans (Daniel 1.3–4).

      1. He needed some young men from Israel
      2. who were comfortable in that environment, and
        1. I do not mean merely that they just liked it, but
        2. that they could function and excel in that environment.
          1. Not everyone can.
          2. Even the people that we think are wonderful people,
            1. just may not have the skills
            2. to know what to do in a leadership position.
    2. This is why in Ecclesiastes Solomon made this insightful statement:

      16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
      And your princes feast in the morning!
      17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
      And your princes feast at the proper time—
      For strength and not for drunkenness!
      (Ecclesiastes 10.16–17)

      1. A nation is blessed when its leaders
      2. have enough experience to have develop leadership skills.
        1. So it is with an eldership.
        2. We do not suddenly get elders
          1. by preaching a sermon on First Timothy and Titus.
          2. Our young men, our boys should be developing now.
            1. They should give themselves to the Lord now.
            2. Girls and women should give themselves to the Lord now.