The other night I was fooling around with my laptop. My wife was in the bedroom talking to some of her family. She strolled into the kitchen (where I was) and asked, “Lew, where in the Bible are the responsibilities of an elder?”
I answered, “There aren’t any”
I then said, “The qualifications of an elder can be found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus – but those are not really qualifications for an elder, but qualifications every Christian should meet.”
Later, I thought to myself, apart from the qualifications, there are actual responsibilities of an elder.
1. v.2 – Help to settle disputes (this does not mean make a decision, but to guide people to the correct decision).
1. v.28 – Guard yourself and the flock.
2. v.31 – Be alert.
3. v.34-35 – Work with your hands to provide for yourself (and others) (i.e. tent-making).
4. v35 – Help the weak and remember “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
1 Peter 5:
1. v.2 – Shepherd the flock.
2. v.2 – Exercise oversight; not under compulsion, but voluntarily.
3. v.3 – Be an example to the flock.
4. v.8 – Be sober minded and alert.
Looking over these “responsibilities” I do not see them as something that a person just decides he is going to do. It seems like they would flow out of being a Christian; growing closer to Christ. A Christian who is already, being an example to the flock, being sober minded and alert, exercising oversight voluntarily, helping the weak, working with this hands to support himself, etc. is one who would be considered an elder. I do not see it as a group of Christians going and looking for someone to fill these roles, but that they recognize the person or people among them who is already fulfilling them.
An important question that needs to be asked is this, “Which responsibilities does an elder have that any other Christian does not?”