Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. (1 Timothy 5:17-20)
Elders Who Serve Well And Those Who Don’t
The leadership of the local congregation is under the care of those men shepherding the flock of God prescribed by the Holy Spirit. It is a grave task of oversight to be in care of the souls within a local community. Each man will give an account of their work before God receiving a heavier judgment for their actions. No task is greater than serving as an elder of the church. Like a shepherd watching over the flock each man has a regard for the sheep in a personal manner. Jesus describes the shepherd as knowing his flock, calling them out by name and going before them as they follow his lead. The tender care of the elder towards the members is manifested in the love he has for them. There will be times of difficulty when the elders must make hard choices. All of their actions are in accordance with the will of the Father and the welfare of the sheep.
No work is more rewarding than serving as a bishop of a congregation. Those men who embark upon the oversight of the church of Christ are men of character exhibiting leadership in guiding the flock by the word of God. Paul exhorts Timothy to acknowledge the men who rule well suggesting that the leaders of the church should be compensated for their efforts. The Holy Spirit clearly establishes that elders can be supported in their exhaustive work of watching over the flock of God. Considering the amount of work in a local congregation for an elder to be engaged in the financial support would be needed for him to carry out effectively his work. They should be recognized with such recompense.
The Holy Spirit also knows that elders are men who have failings that may need to be addressed. Serving as shepherds does not suggest they are above rebuke or exhortation concerning their lives. If the life of a man who serves as an overseer has a matter of reproach, he is to be rebuked but only at the testimony of two or three witnesses. This must be a public charge so that others may see the seriousness of the sin. It is easy for elders to assume they cannot be rebuked. This is not what the Holy Spirit says. All men are challenged by the temptations of life and shepherds of the church are not exempt. The character of humility will guide their lives to repent and acknowledge their failings. This does not always suggest a man must resign from his work. Depending on the character of the charge and their influence, repentance may resolve the issue by God’s grace. Whatever the case the elders are to be acknowledged for their diligent work of looking out after the flock and if the case arises to be rebuked for a lacking in their life.
No church is as strong as it can be when the pattern of the New Testament is followed in leadership. God expects every church to strive for the proper kind of leadership under the work of elders. Churches that go for many years with no effort to establish an eldership are failing the clear commands of the Lord and should repent. Men who serve should be acknowledged for their diligent work. Those who need rebuking should receive the judgment in humility. The mission of the church to so great. Leadership is needed to guide the church in the paths of truth.