Are you 100% perfect? No? That’s good, because have you ever met a perfect man whom God uses to lead? Don’t you think that overcoming mistakes is part of an elder’s example?
Do you eagerly “aspire to the office of overseer” (1 Tim. 3:1)? If not, why not?
Have you actively prepared yourself for this role? Do you possess the qualities in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1? Have you sat down with a Bible and read these passages?
Are you faithful to your wife (1 Tim. 3:2)?
Are your children believers (Tit. 1:6)? Can your good influence be seen in them? If you’re not going to lead, feed, and protect your family, what makes you think you’re going to do that with the church (1 Tim. 3:5)?
Do you know the Bible thoroughly, so that you can both “exhort in sound doctrine” (Tit. 1:9) and call out false teaching?
Do you feel comfortable teaching (1 Tim. 3:2)? Are you willing to “work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17)?
Will you open your home to the brethren (Tit. 1:8) and endure invasions of your privacy and interruptions of your free time?
Do you have a lid on your anger (Tit. 1:7)?
Do you understand that money is a good servant but a poor master (Tit. 1:7)?
Do you avoid addiction in all its forms (Tit. 1:7)?
Do people both inside and outside the church recognize you as a man of good sense, fairness, propriety, and reputation (Tit. 1:8)? Do you sail on an even keel (1 Tim. 3:2)? Do you receive the benefit of the doubt (1 Tim. 5:19)?
Do people recognize you as “gentle and peaceable” (1 Tim. 3:3). Do they feel comfortable coming to you with difficult matters?
Are you willing to put yourself dead last (Tit. 1:7)?
Can others look at your pew as an example of how to pray, participate in teaching, sing, and observe the Lord’s Supper (Tit. 1:8)?
Are you comfortable making decisions (1 Pet. 5:2)?
Are you willing to serve as a good example (1 Pet. 5:3)?
Are you, like Nehemiah, willing to figure out what needs to be done? Are you capable of inspiring other people to do it?
Will you persist in this role even when it is difficult or thankless?
Are you genuine? Would you be comfortable with someone looking at your Netflix queue, your Facebook page, your cell phone texts?
Are you willing to carve out time among the responsibilities of your life to have, let’s say, weekly meetings with fellow elders, quarterly meetings with deacons, and annual meetings with the congregation (1 Pet. 5:2, Acts 15:6)?
Are you willing to drop everything at the first sign of a problem to rescue a lost sheep (Luke 15:4, Ezek. 34:1-10)?
Are you willing to speak up bravely, to guard the flock of God from false teachers and dangerous threats (Acts 20:27-31), even when they arise from within?
Are you willing to be called into judgment for your efforts to lead souls to heaven (Heb. 13:17a)? Do you understand that this truth is both a powerful incentive for leaders, and a powerful reassurance to followers? Are you comforted to know that the joys of leading souls hugely outweigh the burdens (Heb. 13:17b)?
Are you willing to learn everyone’s name (John 10:3)?
Are you willing to absorb unfair criticism with patience (2 Tim. 2:24-26) recognizing Satan as the enemy rather than the members?
Are you willing to pray at the bed of the sick, to hold the hand of the dying (James 5:14)?
Do you look at this list and feel overwhelmed, like you couldn’t possibly live up to God’s standards? Do you feel better if I remind you that there is not one single thing that God asks of an elder that He doesn’t ask of every Christian; that an elder is simply one who has matured in his faith? Do you really think God would make the task so unreachable that no one could do it? Do you think God has no patience for our shortcomings, that the blood of Jesus cannot address even these?
Are you scared to think that there might be sheep that prove uncooperative and sinful, and that you’ll be called to account for that? Do you feel better if I remind you that all men are free moral agents, and will stand before God in judgment; that God’s spokesmen are judged for how they encouraged and rebuked, but can’t make anyone do anything (Ezek. 18:4, 33:19)? Or if I remind you that not even Jesus (John 6:66) nor Peter (Acts 5:5) could keep their numbers up all the time?
Are you humbled to know that your brethren will be gushing in their thanks for your work, and fervent in their prayers for you (1 Thess. 5:12-13)?
Are you excited that you will have a special place in God’s heart (1 Pet. 5:4, Rev. 4:4)?!