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Qualification for leadership is set out by St Paul in scripture, particularly in 1 Timothy chapter 3 verses 1 to 7 inclusive and 1 Timothy 5 verses 17 to 21. They read: This is a true saying, if a man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?). Not a novice, lest being lifted up he, through pride fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Moreover he must have a good report from those who are outsiders; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who teach the word and true doctrine. For the scripture says, you shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn.

And, the labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, unless there are two or three witnesses who can uphold it. Those who sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that you observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality."

"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who teach the word and true doctrine. For the scripture says, you shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. And, the labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, unless there are two or three witnesses who can uphold it.

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that you observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality." Briefly what these scriptures are saying is that everyone should be judged on the anointing of God that is being manifest in their life and ministry and not on the basis of who he happens to know.

To do this would be corruption, something the world is expert at. This is something to be avoided when and wherever possible. Otherwise there could be a major split in the church caused by not carefully observing this rule.

Further, it is said that he must have a good reputation with people who are not religious, that is to say non church-goers suggesting that all Christians should get involved with caring for others in one form or another and doing something that Jesus did, being with and getting to know those who are of the world in order that the opportunity may occur for the gospel to be preached to them when they see what a loving and caring person you are.

When Mother Teresa went to Calcutta the people there (even those who were terribly sick) were suspicious of her and would close their ears every time she began to speak of the gospel. After a little while when they came to understand that she was there to show love to them all and to care for the sick they opened up their minds to the gospel because the depth of love and caring that she was demonstrating had never been known by any of them before.

This may well happen to you when you meet with people who are worldly thinkers, and then you may get the opportunity of telling them the truth about Jesus Christ. In Matthew chapter 22 verses 1 to 10 Jesus tells the story of a man who had arranged a banquet but those whom he had invited started making silly excuses as to why they could not come, so he ordered his servants to look everywhere and make people come to the feast so that the banquet hall would be full.

It reads "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, who made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: but they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell those who are invited, behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings have been killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

But when the king heard of it, he was angry: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then said he to his servants, the wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

The Wedding Jesus was speaking of is the marriage of The Lamb. All the Jews were invited but because they rebelled against the plan of God the plan was opened up to the Gentiles also. In this parable we see that the servants went everywhere they could think of in order to ensure that there were enough guests to fill the wedding hall.

If your church is evangelical it does not mean that it will simply preach the gospel when visitors come in to the church but it must mean that they are a church that goes out into the open air to tell people collectively or individually the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It is impossible to be evangelical and not do this regularly: therefore it is vital that at least the leaders care much for lost souls.

In Mark chapter 10 verses 35 to 45 inclusive we read about the request of the disciples known as "the sons of thunder" it reads as follows: "James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would like you to do for us whatsoever we shall ask. Jesus said unto them, what would you ask me to do for you? They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one at your right hand, and the other at your left hand in thy glory. But Jesus said unto them, you know not what you ask: can you drink from the cup that I drink from? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They said unto him, we can. Jesus said unto them, You shall indeed drink from the cup that I drink from; and with the baptism that I am baptized shall you be baptized: but to sit at my right hand and at my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to those for whom it is prepared.

When the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. But Jesus called them to him and said unto them, you know that they who are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: whoever will be great among you, shall be your servant: and whoever of you will be the chief, shall be servant of all, for even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Some of the qualities for being an elder are obvious, like not being a drunkard but being one who is sociable, a lover of people. If anyone is going to be in leadership of whatever church they must be like the master in the parable of the wedding feast and care deeply for the lost. Nobody can lead a church successfully by doing it the worldly way but they must share the heart of God not only in the way that the church is to be run but also the heart of God for lost souls who have never even been inside a church.

It is the way of the world to bully and emotionally blackmail people into doing what you want them to, it is also the way of the devil, the way it should be done is with humility and examples of loving service towards others, especially those in the church. In years gone by there has been what is known as "heavy shepherding" where if anyone expresses the slightest bit of disagreement with any of the church leadership over anything from the front in the next main meeting members will be told not to communicate with that person until they come into agreement with the leadership.

Neither will they will not be allowed even to attend the church during this time, let alone minister in any way whatsoever. This is not biblical it is not the way of The Lord either so you must never allow it to happen amongst you. Almost all of the churches who indulged in "heavy shepherding" have now been closed down because they lost so many members it was impossible for them to continue any longer.

In the first passages quoted we are told that an elder must not be married to more than one wife. A single man is not married to more than one wife. It is possible to get a person with all of these qualifications but not with the call of God unto such an office. You can also get someone whose character reflects everything mentioned in this passage, including having the anointing of God on his life but is unmarried. Many would say today that this should not prevent that person from becoming an elder.

Imagine a factory owner who has been in business for a long time and making a satisfactory profit from the business of meeting customers' orders for the product that factory produces. What do you think should happen then if suddenly the amount of orders received had greatly increased? Should he tell the customers that they will have to wait a longer and longer time or should he employ more staff? Most would employ more staff and rightly so as well.

Now think of Jesus who sees many of the things regarding the last days coming into fruition. Should He continue with the number of people He has in His service currently or should He increase the number of people in His service as time begins to run out for the people of the earth?

Surely as the urgency increases for people to be reached with the true gospel of Jesus Christ before it is too late He should recruit more and more people to carry out this work whilst there is still time. Because time is so short before the rapture of the church must occur and those that remain must live under the rule of the man of sin for 42 months of hell on earth (see Revelation chapter 13 verse 5) the only logical thing to do is to use all the labourers He can get as the end draws closer and closer.

Therefore, though some are shocked by these things, women should not be excluded as elders, especially if they fulfill all the requirements mentioned in these passages and also has the calling of God for such an office. The same standards should be applied as regards her conduct as would be for any man. Nobody should be appointed to any church office simply to comply with political correctness.

A comparatively young person (in Christ though not necessary in years) might not have enough experience or understanding to fulfill the office of an elder as he or she should therefore it is better to keep an eye on them and consider them as future elders once they come to know there Saviour and the scriptures more and more. Unfortunately the possibility of a young person becoming filled with pride is much greater than a person who is more mature in Christ.

When scripture speaks of a bishop or an overseer this is speaking of an Apostle rather than an elder and should be understood in this context. It is quite possible for there to be elders that are not called to one of the five-fold office ministry gifts of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher.

Note that these ministries are indeed five-fold. It is quite possible to have a Pastor who is certainly not a gifted bible teacher and similarly it is possible for there to be among you a gifted bible teacher who is by no means of a pastoral heart, rarely do you find someone with both abilities and anointing in God.

One final thing, scripture talks about people who are not corrupted by money. The following is a typical example of what happens in many churches in the west. One person has attended all the church committee meetings, training meetings and services for more than 20 years.

Whenever they have been asked to do something they have done it quickly without fuss or complaint, they have been very happy to serve in any way. A few weeks later along comes a man who has just moved into the area and knows nothing about the needs of the church he has chosen to worship at. He speaks to the minister, tells him that he will be worshipping God in this congregation regularly in future. He then offers the church a large financial donation and within a few months is made chair of the committee and his addressed with an especial degree of respect by the minister. Does this remind you of anything?

James chapter 2 verses 1 to 9 reads as follows: "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and you have respect to him that wears the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit here in a good place; and say to the poor man "Stand there, or sit here under my footstool": are you not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges with evil thoughts?

Hearken, my beloved brethren, Has not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to them that love him? But you have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which you are called?

If you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, you shall love your neighbour as yourself, you do well: but if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. "Make sure that this sort of thing does not happen in your church. God treats everybody equally and will judge all on the same basis, neither of these things is seen in the scripture quoted above or in the sample story that precedes them in this study.

How do you think the faithful man will feel when he sees these things happening? The likelihood is that not only will he be outraged but the rest of the committee will be also on his behalf. Make sure that in your church there is not one rule for the rich and another for the poor, make sure the rules apply to everyone regardless of their financial position or you will outrage many in the congregation also, these may chose to leave and go elsewhere which means that as far as spiritual gifts are concerned (to say nothing of financial gifts) your church will be very much the poorer.

The character of a church leader should be transparent and the person should be one who is quite willing to discuss anything with anyone in the church if they think he or she is wrong on any issue. Honour Jesus in every way and He will honour you. The plans He has for all the churches across the world, and those that will be newly set up in the near future, if you are faithful to God then He will include you in those plans, provided that all the leaders are men of prayer who are daily fasting and praying so that they will the more easily be able to hear the direction and instruction of God. The future is bright but as always, it is up to you to respond in the way that God demands of His leaders.

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