Summary: Those who seek eldership, provided they are motivated by divine call, desire a noble task.

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” [1]

Few things give me greater pleasure than seeing God raise up heralds of holiness. I taught preacher boys in Texas for a brief period. Throughout the years of my service before the Master, it has been one of my great joys to witness men whom I tutored assume positions of leadership among the saints, building great works. Some students whom I taught are now seminary professors and presidents of major seminaries. Most are building believers through pastoral ministries. I have served on multiple occasions as field supervisor for seminary students and as a doctoral mentor on other occasions. God has graciously permitted me to invest my life in some godly men who excelled anything I have ever accomplished in the Kingdom.

God still raises up men with souls aflame who cannot rest until they are declaring the Word. They are capable men, trained to work at myriad tasks, but they voluntarily choose to labour at preaching and teaching to the glory of God. Admittedly, there are charlatans who don the livery of the pastor. Such mountebanks see the position as a job, or abuse their appointment by lording it over the people of God; nevertheless, I believe most pastors long to preach the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, being unable to rest until they are occupying the sacred desk.

If pretenders wreak havoc among the churches while parading as pastors, who is at fault? Obviously, the fraud himself or herself is ultimately responsible for his or her own actions; however, the churches must bear a terrible responsibility for failure to apply what is written in Scripture. God has clearly stated His standards for pastoral oversight. If the churches accept those who are obviously unqualified, they must know that they shall give an accounting to Holy God—and there can be no excuse for failure to know His will.

In some instances, denominational serpents slithering across the Lord’s Zion share responsibility, for they recommended and actively promoted individuals whom they knew to be unqualified for eldership, doing so because those whom they promoted were denominational supporters. In other instances, a church board—inevitably composed of compliant individuals under the domination of a few individuals—selected an individual whom they imagine they could control or who was able to sell himself or herself as a scintillating speaker. In every case, especially when the congregation has a say in such selection, the ultimate responsibility lies with an untaught and spiritually ignorant membership moved more by emotion than by the Word.

I cannot remain at this post forever; one day, the inevitability of sin’s merciless grind that takes the toll of all mankind must extract the last measure of physical strength from me; I will go the way of all flesh. At that time, he congregation will be responsible to seek out God’s man to occupy this sacred desk. Whether the congregation honours God, or whether the congregation will become like thousands of other ruined assemblies bearing the frightful signature “Ichabod” over the door depends upon whether the congregation chooses to obey the Word, or do what is convenient. I think it right, so long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, what is the will of the Master. Thus, we now initiate a multi-week study of elders and deacons, as the Lord has provided for His people.

*TRUSTWORTHY? SAYS WHO?* — “The saying is trustworthy…” This is a recurring phrase in the Pastoral Letters. [2] The Apostle quotes hymns that glorified God and what were obviously commonly stated truths among the faithful. In each instance, Paul uses the phrase to mark a transition from what has just been discussed to a new consideration. In this instance, he has been speaking of men and women at worship; now, he will speak of leadership among the saints. Obviously, without sound leaders, the previous discussions will become meaningless. Therefore, what is about to follow is of utmost importance to the churches.

However, the saying (literally, “Faithful the word”) requires that we think about what is said, asking who determines whether a saying is trustworthy or whether it is errant? Today, too frequently, conventional wisdom may be conventional, but fail to be either wise or accurate. Just because a statement is commonly bruited about does not make it true. For instance, it is commonly stated that the changing morality doesn’t hurt anybody. People will often grow heated, saying, “What I do with my own life is my business; it doesn’t hurt anybody else!”

When a civic leader is unfaithful to his wife, can we really trust that he will keep his word to the people he serves? If he is unwilling to maintain sacred vows spoken before the Lord, why should we imagine that he will keep lesser vows taken before mere mortals?

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