and when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. [acts 14:23]


take a look at the qualifications for these elders laid out by paul:

the saying is trustworthy: if anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. he must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? he must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. [2 timothy 3:1-7]


elders are not “super christians”– when you look to the elders at matthias, jeff, chris, kraig, keith, john, marc and lonnie, you will see men who are not perfect, but striving to set an example for the flock, men who point to Jesus and teach his way. yes, beloved, we should all strive for holiness, purity and put off vice, violence, a quarrelsome and greedy spirit as believers, but the thing that sets overseers apart is this: they are appointed.

therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which i was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why i suffer as i do. but i am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and i am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. [2 timothy 1:8-18]


look at verse 11: paul was appointed an overseer; a preacher, and apostle and teacher, but it is important to see who he was appointed by–Jesus Christ! when paul appoints subsequent elders, and those elders appoint elders (through various forms of church government) he is doing so in the authority of Jesus.  why was paul appointed? look at 2 timothy v. 8:  he was appointed to suffer for the gospel. when paul appoints elders, he isn’t primarily putting them in charge, he isn’t primarily giving them a platform, he is making them the chief sufferers in the body of Christ, he is putting them in the middle of the pain and persecution that comes with the brokenness of sinners. the elder is daily protecting the sheep from the attacks of the evil one and defending against false teaching.  is there much joy for an overseer in watching people come to and grow in Christ? certainly! but with that joy comes suffering and spiritual attack and sacrifice for the bride of Jesus. 


what a blessing it is for us to have leaders who die daily so that we might have the treasure of the gospel placed before us–who often suffer for the gospel behind closed doors having difficult conversations and labor to disciple us in the glorious word of God. as you rest in the goodness of the Lord today, cry out to him in thankfulness for those who serve so willingly and selflessly, who do it to reflect the glorious sacrifice of our risen King Jesus! let us with prayer and fasting commit them to the Lord in whom we all believe!


~ ce