Pastors and Elders VI: The Requirements for an Elder (part III)

We have been taking a bit of time to look at the requirements for eldership; in Biblically based churches elders are appointed by pastors, and pastors should not appoint them quickly but rather look at their lifestyle and make an accurate and wise decision. The list of requirements for an elder is listed in 1 Tim 3, and we are looking at each requirement in turn.

The next requirement for an elder according to Paul when writing to Timothy (1 Tim. 3.2) is that an elder must be vigilant.

The Greek word is naphelious, meaning not given to excess of drinking alcohol.  I don’t believe that this means never drinking, but I do think that every Christian, especially those in leadership, need to be very careful about their relationship with alcoholic drinks.  Firstly, because being drunk leads to what the King James called excess, but what in the original Greek means “asotia” which means decisions of poor character that cannot be undone.  That’s a simple fact – drink too much and you will make bad decisions, decisions that cannot be undone.  And when you are in leadership, your decisions affect people.

Every attitude you have infects people.  Every stupid decision you make affects people.  So, one of the keys to leadership is to keep control of your heart and mind.  Of course not drinking alcohol to excess is one way of doing this, but you have to guard your heart on every level against being offended, being upset, being angry, being lustful.  If you are in leadership, don’t get drunk – and don’t engage in “drunk” behaviour!

It’s a simple lesson today, but a really important one.  I almost passed it over as I think it’s sort of self-explanatory and unnecessary to expound on, but then I read last night about a pastor I know who has just been arrested for drink-driving and I realize that all it takes is a couple of drinks for your judgement to be impaired enough to drink a couple more, then you don’t know where you might end up or the poor decisions you might make.  Now a whole church is going to have to deal with the consequences of his poor decisions, made because he wasn’t vigilant.

Leaders – be VIGILANT.  Be careful.  Don’t be given to excess!



Walk, Don’t Run!

Every Sunday morning when we release the children I remind the parents that all our children’s workers have DBS’s, that we follow all the Home Office guidelines in caring for children, that they need to ensure they keep the counterpart sticker to their child’s sticker so they can pick them up again at the end of the service.

I then remind the children of one thing as we release them to the other cinema screen: walk, don’t run.  30-40 children running together is a recipe for disaster.  

When it comes to leadership and taking others where they need to go, this should also be the policy: walk, don’t run.

The Bible never has anything to say about sprinting in the Spirit.  It has a lot to say about walking in the Spirit.  Walking is something that you can do everyday.

Leaders are often challenged by the needs of the many and the press of the urgent.  Stephen Covey talks about the tyranny of the urgent pressing out the important things that have to be done.  How many people miss church services where they can worship together, get equipped by the Word, have great fellowship and see the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit – one of the single most important parts of your life – because they are the mercy of the press of the urgent or cannot prioritize properly.

Look at your schedule – if you are running you will not be able to keep up that pace, you are going to get exhausting, you may fall, you may bump into others.  You need to change things so you are walking not running.

Here are 5 simple tips to help you maintain a schedule that involves walking not running:

1.  Look at every task that has to be done.  If it can be done in under 5 minutes, just do it there and then.  If an email comes in, and a simple reply solves it – then give the reply.  Do it now!  Get it done!  If it takes longer than 5 minutes, then you need a system to both remember and prioritize your tasks.  There are many apps on the iPad or mobile phone that will do this, a diary or to-do list will also be another way.  I use an app called for ongoing tasks, tasks that have to be done regularly as it remembers them all for me.  Things like packing the car for Tree of Life Watford and what needs to go in the car, paying certain bills, payroll, writing sermons, preparing the church newsletter, even updating this blog – they are all in the app as they happen regularly.  Then every morning, I make a pen and paper to-do list from that app, and from what I know I have to do.  I then star the important tasks – not the urgent ones – the important ones, and I start doing.  There is something very satisfying about scoring out a task on a piece of paper that an app doesn’t do quite yet!

2. Don’t try and multi-task.  I know that men can’t and women can is the established idea but the truth is no-one can well.  You do one task and work on that.  Shut down Gmail and Facebook, you can come back to that later – no email is *that* urgent.

3. Rest.  Concentration wanes.  So work on 50 minutes work and 10 minutes rest.  That is more productive than working the whole hour.  In your ten minute rest, go for a walk, stretch, think, pray, do push ups – anything other than sit down and do work!  

4. Remember time collating the tasks and planning what to do is time well spent.  Sometimes things as you plan make more sense.  Sometimes you feel so busy you have to get stuck in – no step back and plan and prioritize.

5.  Delegate.  I know in some places and positions that is impossible, but in church it’s very rarely that way.  There are many people keen to help, keen to get stuck in and keen to help.  Learn how to push the tasks down the line, and if you get a task come your way that you can delegate – delegate it there and then.