I have recently received a number of questions about the requirements needed for a full time commendation to the work of the Lord. We hope to print future articles on this subject. We offer this one as a start.
Godliness of Life
Any person commended by an assembly needs a background of years of godly, righteous living. A person who has come under assembly discipline is disqualified. Such scriptures as 1 Timothy 3:8-13 make this very plain.
Grace in Development
Again, I would appeal to passages such as I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. There is no way that we can hold elders to a higher standard than those who move among assemblies as preachers and teachers of the Word. If there is any doubt on this point, then we appeal to Acts 16:1-2. “Well reported” is a simple statement to describe the confidence of two assemblies in Timothy. Anything less than this is not acceptable. From the Acts 16 passage and Acts 18:24-28, it is clear that a fit servant will not only have the confidence of local brethren in his own assembly, but will also have the confidence of brethren in other assemblies. We need to stress that if the commending assembly is small, several assemblies in the area should become involved.
Although we find this incredible, there have been cases where a commendation was given to a particular field of labor, yet the commended person was unknown to elders or workers in that area. This has even happened where a worker has been commended to an established work. Elders and workers in an area whether in home lands or far afield need to be consulted before such a commendation can be expected to be received favorably.
Gripped by a Love for Souls
The grace of development must include a deep love for souls (Romans 10:1-3). It is most unlikely that an exercise for souls at a great distance from home can be genuine unless there is evidence of the same love for neighbors and others who are close at hand. It is not correct to commend a man to the work, he should be able to be commended in a work that he is already doing. If he has never experienced the blessing of God on labors near home, he is not likely to be of value in a distant location. The kind of person to be commended is one whose loss will be greatly felt by the home assembly.
Many would put this requirement first, but I have intentionally put it last. A pleasant appearance and approach do have importance, but they come far down the list compared to a man’s power from God to reach hearts and consciences. I am not sure that I can describe what a preaching gift is, but I recognize it when I see or hear it. It is not only necessary to be real, there must be the divine ability to communicate it. An intelligent presentation of truth is necessary, but it must have heart and feeling in it and this has to be recognized. A stranger said when he came to a meeting, “I don’t believe what he said, but he most certainly believes it.”