Summary: Serving as an elder/overseer/shepherd/pastor/bishop of a congregation is a noble task.
1. Why Help the Pig?
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Philippians 2:3
Two men were riding their horses down a country road, discussing the question of motivation. One believed we're capable of pure motives, even without Christ. The other disagreed. They came to a ditch where a pig had gotten tangled up in fencing and was struggling to free himself. The latter gentlemen got down in the mud and managed to free the animal, though he ruined his clothing. Resuming their trip, the first man said, "There! That was a selfless act of kindness." But his friend replied, "No, it was pure selfishness. The only reason I helped that pig was to save myself from the guilt and torment of worrying about him all day."
Without Christ, it seems impossible to operate from true love and godly motivations. As we grow in Him, our motives gradually improve and we're increasingly compelled by His love, 14 For the love of Christ controls us, (2 Corinthians 5.14a). Not in ourselves but only in Christ can we exhibit lowliness of mind and be motivated by biblical love.
Love is a command that we're to obey, and love is at the core of all the works that we may ever do. David Jeremiah
2. We struggle with our motivations, even (and maybe especially) in ministry scenarios. Sometimes:
a. We serve out of Guilt
b. We serve out of Obligation
c. We serve out of Selfishness
d. We serve out of Loving Sincerity
3. 1 Timothy 3.1
a. Elder Selection Process
b. Based on a Sincere Desire
I. Serving as a Shepherd is a Noble Task
A. The Role of Elder is Not:
1. A Political Position within the Church
* Politicians are not looked upon as noble today -- A little girl asked her father, "Do all fairy tales begin with Once upon a time?" The father replied, "No, some begin with - If I'm elected."
* When Teddy Roosevelt decided to run for his first political office, his family asked him why he would want to be a politician when he could just buy one. We may have the idea of selecting a man to be elder in order to push my agenda -- not in God's church!
* John Q. Adams -- lived his entire life in service to his country -- actually went back in to the US Congress after his Presidency; died in the Speaker's office as an old man. NOBLE
2. A Power Position within the Church -- 3 John 9
9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.
[Hudson Taylor was scheduled to speak at a large church in Melbourne, Australia. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms. He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as "our illustrious guest." Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, "Dear friends, I am only the little servant of an illustrious Master." Now that's being noble!
B. The Tasks of An Elder -- Acts 20.28-32**
1. "Office of Bishop" -- Oversee/Watchman to warn and protect his people (Ezekiel 3 and 33)
2. Take heed -- to self and church -- a shepherd's role in caring for the congregation -- John 21.15-17
"Feed my lambs; tend my sheep; feed my sheep"
C. The Priorities of Elders -- Acts 6.4 (Ministry of the word and prayer)
1. Shepherds interceding for sheep
2. Remember, all Satan has to do is get us from best to good and he can derail us
II. Serving as a Shepherd Requires a Noble Ambition
* My daughter and I have a compulsion. Whenever we see a WWII veteran, we make sure we speak to and thank them for their service. One day recently she did that. He replied to her, "I did it for your boy" (i.e., my grandson).
* George Washington served his country for no salary, only expenses from the War for Independence -- NOBLE
* Preamble to the Constitution -- We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
A. Achieving Aspirations
* This word translated in the NAS as "aspires" (or some translations say "desire" or "sets his heart on") is only found three times in the New Testament. Here, in 1 Tim 6:10 and in Hebrews 11:16.
* Different people are motivated by different things. In 1 Tim 6:10 money is the motivation. In Hebrews 11:16 heaven is the motivation. So what is the motivation behind the desire for the office of overseer? He doesn't tell us directly here. It just says that it is a noble task or fine work that he is motivated to do.