This month, I have the privilege of teaching a class on leadership to potential elders and deacons at New Life Church in Roehampton in South West London.
As I prepared for our look at Paul’s description of elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3, I remembered John Stott’s writing on church leadership. The former rector (minister) of All Souls Church in London groups the characteristics into 5 categories.
The 5 essential characteristics of church leaders are:
1. Self-controlled and mature – verse 2 affirms that leaders should be sober-minded, self-controlled; then in verse 3 Paul lists not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money and verse 8 he states not indulging in much wine and not pursuing dishonest gain.
2. Family – verse 2 states that the elder should be the husband of one wife and then verse 4 we learn that he must manage his own household well; verse 12 lets us know that the deacon as well should be a one-woman man.
3. Relationships within church – not quarrelsome in verse 3 nor slanderers (vs 11) as divisive talk is a cancer in any church; they must also be tested first declares verse 10 as it takes time for the congregation to know who they are.
4. Relationships with outsiders – verse 2 informs us that an overseer must be above reproach and verse 7 lets us know that they must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
5. Deep faith – verse 9 says they must keep hold of the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
Elders must be able to teach as stated in verse 2 which is the primary difference between the two offices. Deacons are responsible for works of mercy and service. They support the elders in caring for the physical needs of the congregation and the running of the church for the glory of God.
These are characteristics that I hope all of us would attain to. The elders and deacons’ lives should be a model for everyone on how to live the Christian life by the grace of God.
May the Lord raise up leaders for His church!