Qualifications for an Elder
- Above Reproach (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). An elder will not be perfect, but his reputation must be such that he is not known for violating the other qualifications.
- Husband of One Wife (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). We do not believe that divorce and remarriage automatically disqualifies an elder. Again, the issue is reputation. Is this man known to be faithful to his wife? It should be noted that this also means the man should not be known for having wandering eyes or being flirtatious.
- Temperate/Self-controlled (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). Though an elder may be passionate, he is not driven by his emotions.
- Prudent/Sensible (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8) The elder is able to demonstrate common sense. He has an ability to think rationally and exercise good judgment.
- Respectable (1 Timothy 3:2). Not only an indication that others show him honor and respect, but the elder is also one who shows respect to others. He treats others with the value they deserve as people created in the image of God.
- Hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). The elder is willing to open up his home (and also his life!) to the church body and to non-believers of the community. He does not act secretively or distant from those around him.
- Able to Teach/Holds Fast the Faithful Word (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9). This does not mean every elder must be able to preach or share in a large assembly. Titus goes on to say he must be able to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict. The elder must know the Word well enough to be able to both communicate truth and identify and correct false doctrine.
- Not Addicted to Wine (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). This does not require that an elder abstain from alcohol, but alcohol should not control him.
- Not Pugnacious (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). While an elder needs to be able to stand for what’s right, refute those who are wrong, and earnestly contend for the faith, he is not to do it in a combative way. The elder should not resort to force or intimidation to accomplish his purposes.
- Gentle (1 Timothy 3:3). An elder is not to be weak, but he should never use more strength than is necessary. His desire should not be to break or crush, but to handle others carefully.
- Peaceable (1 Timothy 3:3). Reconciliation should always be the goal of an elder. Even if the elders determine that a person must be put out of the church, it should be with the desire that a person is won back over to the Lord, not as an act of final condemnation.
- Free from Love of Money/Not Fond of Sordid Gain (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:2). An elder should not compromise decisions, either for his own financial gain, or simply to appease the will of those who might give to the church. He should never use his position as an opportunity for personal wealth.
- Manages Household Well/Having Children Who Believe (1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:6). No one can cause the salvation of another, so this qualification does not mean an elder’s children must all be believers. However, 1 Timothy 3:4 goes on to say, “keeping his children under control with all dignity.” This should be seen as a parallel to Titus 1:6 which can be translated “children who are faithful.” Even if an elder’s children are not believers, while they are under his care in the home, they should conduct themselves with respect toward their father.
- Not a New Convert (1 Timothy 3:6). Scripture does not define a “new convert” by a specific length of time. First, an elder must have walked with the Lord long enough to develop a reputation of “above reproach.” Also, the elder needs to have been a believer long enough that he is not able to boast or become proud at the rate of his Christian growth.
- Not Self-Willed (Titus 1:7). The elder should never use people to serve his purposes but should use his office to serve the people God has entrusted to him.
- Not Quick-Tempered (Titus 1:7). An elder should not sin when angry but should be quick to listen. He should not react simply because he is annoyed or frustrated but should act for the purpose of sanctification, both his own and the congregation’s.
- Lover of What Is Good (Titus 1:8). An elder should not have his eyes unhealthily fixed on what is wrong and sinful with the world, nor should his attention just be on abstaining from bad things. His desire should be set toward the gospel, wanting to draw others to what is good and right.
- Just (Titus 1:8). An elder does not show favoritism, nor is he given to compromise. He is righteous and law-abiding.
- Devout (Titus 1:8). An elder is committed not only to teaching the truth, but to living it. He seeks to do what is holy and pleasing to the Lord. The Word stands as his binding authority.
- Serves Voluntarily (1 Peter 5:2). An elder does not serve the congregation because he feels he has too, but because the Lord has put a desire within his heart to serve. He finds joy in his service to the Lord and the congregation.
- Not Lording, But as an Example (1 Peter 5:3). In shepherd imagery, sheep are not driven (like cattle) but herded. That means that the shepherd is down among the sheep. An elder is not just a shepherd, but one of the sheep. He must seek to influence and lead in a personal, close, and vulnerable way.
- Good Reputation with Those Outside the Church (1 Timothy 3:7). Very similar to “above reproach,” an elder’s reputation with those outside of the church will be positive if he is walking according to the other qualifications.
Qualifications for a Deacon
- Dignity (1 Timothy 3:8). While a deacon may be a fun-loving guy, he needs to also have a serious side. When necessary, a deacon must be able to handle himself with reverence.
- Not Double-Tongued (1 Timothy 3:8). A deacon must speak truth, not allowing his audience to dictate his words. Regardless of the audience, a deacon must be consistent in his speech.
- Not Addicted to Much Wine (1 Timothy 3:8). This does not require that a deacon abstain from alcohol, but alcohol should not control him. He should also avoid drunkenness.
- Not Fond of Sordid Gain (1 Timothy 3:8). A deacon should not compromise decisions, either for his own financial gain, or simply to appease the will of those who might give to the church. He should never use his position as an opportunity for personal wealth.
- Holding to the Mystery of Faith with a Clear Conscience (1 Timothy 3:9). A deacon must be a man who practices what he preaches. His actions should be the result of his doctrine, and his doctrine should clearly be centered on the work of Christ on the Cross.
- Must be Tested…Beyond Reproach (1 Timothy 3:10). A deacon should be examined and then found to have a good over-all reputation. This does not mean that the deacon must be found perfect, but that his general testimony should be one that points to Christ.
- Husband of One Wife (1 Timothy 3:12). We do not believe that divorce and remarriage automatically disqualifies a deacon. Again, the issue is reputation. Is this man known to be faithful to his wife? It should be noted that this also means the man should not be known for having wandering eyes or being flirtatious.
- Good Managers of Their Children and Their Household (1 Timothy 3:12). No one can cause the salvation of another, so this qualification does not mean a deacon’s children must all be believers. Even if a deacon’s children are not believers, while they are under his care in the home, they should conduct themselves with respect toward their father.