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church? In dependence upon God, the   desire to serve can enable an elder to en-
        elders must care for the Christians, as   dure when a coerced person will give up.
        a shepherd feeds his flock, by teaching,   Second, the work of the elder should
        preaching, exhorting, rebuking and en-  not be tainted by personal greed: “not for
        couraging with the Bible. They are to be   shameful gain, but eagerly” (1Pe 5:2c).
        among the people they shepherd so that   Spiritual leadership has historically been
        they know the flock and can appreciate   blighted by greed. It was silver that Judas
        and respond to their needs, strengths and   received for betraying the Lord. Churches
        weaknesses.                           have stood out as centres of wealth in the
          Pastoral care is all about bringing the   midst of poverty, with leaders enriched by
        Word of God to the people of God. By   feeding on the flock rather than feeding
        personal example and the help of oth-  the flock. An elder requires an attitude of
        ers, the spiritual food of God’s Word will   selfless service, more concerned by what
        strengthen, guide for the decisions of life,   he can do for others rather than what they
        and cleanse and protect from the defile-  can do for him. Shepherds are not to fleece
        ment of the world. It will also educate   the sheep.
        and enable growth in the knowledge of   Third, elders should not take the place
        God and our Saviour, bringing hope for   as lords: “not domineering over those
        the dark times of life experience and a   in your charge, but being examples to
        sure foundation upon which to build our   the flock” (v3). It is always a bad sign
        lives for God.                        when a church becomes identified with a
          Paul emphasises this responsibility   leader’s name, as if it belongs to him or is
        when he instructs Timothy that elders   subservient to him. This is what an elder
        must be “able to teach” (1Ti 3:2). It is worth   must avoid. A person behaving like a chief
        noting that among all the qualifications of   executive or a tyrant is not serving as an
        an elder that Paul mentions in 1 Timothy   elder. Elders lead by example, teaching,
        3 and Titus 1, teaching the Word of God   caring, encouraging, rebuking, but never
        stands out in the lists. “He must hold firm   as dictators. Their authority is derived
        to the trustworthy word as taught, so that   from the Lord, and their overarching aim
        he may be able to give instruction in sound   is to point to Him, for the people in their
        doctrine and also to rebuke those who   charge to love and serve the Lord, not
        contradict it” (Titus 1:9).           them. Rather than drive the flock from
          As the elders oversee the local church,   behind with a stick, shepherds lead the
        they are to be careful not to fall into three   sheep down a path they themselves have
        common  leadership  sins.  First,  Peter   already walked.
        writes,  they  should  do  it  “not  under   Peter will go on in his epistle to speak
        compulsion, but willingly, as God would   of the reward that awaits faithful elder
        have you” (1Pe 5:2b). Similarly, when Paul   service (v4) and the responsibility of the
        writes to Timothy setting out the qualifica-  sheep to respond to pastoral care (vv5-11).
        tions of an elder, the first point he makes is   In days when responsibility and service
        that an elder should desire to do the work   are declining for all sorts of selfish reasons,
        (1Ti 3:1). An elder should want to serve the   and the need for pastoral care has never
        Lord in this way and not be forced to do   been greater, let elders heed the call of the
        so. When difficult circumstances arise, the   Lord to shepherd the flock of God.

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