Pastors and Elders VII: The Requirements for an Elder (part IV)

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 word in the requirements that we are looking at is sober.  In the Greek dictionary, this word is translated:

  1. of a sound mind, sane, in one’s senses

  2. curbing one’s desires and impulses, self-controlled, temperate

You should be very careful as a pastor (and let me say again – because it always needs repeating – that pastors appoint elders, elders do not appoint pastors!) when appointing elders that they are sane – that they have a sound mind.  The last thing you need is elder’s meeting after elder’s meeting with drama after drama because one of your elders is easily letting their mind run away with them.

When a person in a church falls, it hurts the church.  When an elder falls, it seriously injures the church.  When a pastor falls, it kills the church.  Before promoting someone to elder, you have to be sure they have a sound mind – that they are sober in thinking.  This means you have to take your time before appointing someone and either know them directly or have someone you trust know them.

A person in sound mind is not easily offended, is not deceitful, is not rude.  They are full of grace and truth!  When someone in their living church does something rude or unmannerly, they show grace.  When someone does’t turn up, they don’t think about all the things they could have been doing wrong or where they might be.  They are in control of their imagination.

Here are four signs that someone is not sober-minded and not a good candidate for eldership:

  • They take correction either too lightly or too personally.  A person who loves God and loves the church will welcome correction as they want to do a job as good as possible.  If you want to see someone’s heart, correct them over a small issue.  You will soon find out if they are grace-centered or self-centered!
  • They make crude jokes.  The reason their jokes are in the gutter is because their mind is in the gutter.  The Bible says coarse jokes should not be among us.
  • They are easily offended.  Man alive – you will always have the thin-skinned among you (to paraphrase among you), but don’t appoint them to eldership as they will be offended up to the pastor and offended down about others and run everyone down!  You say one thing about their pet sin and BOOM!  That’s just proof they cannot be leaders.
  • They value their culture or traditions above God’s Word.  One of the signs of a drunk mind is that it holds on tightly onto culture and background, even when it totally contradicts God’s Word.  A sober mind wants to build only on the Word of God!

You see spiritual maturity is not about how long someone prays or how long they prophesy, or how expensive their suits are – it’s about how we deal with people and help people.


Published by Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at, and

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