Our church is in the process of re-confirming our elders. This is done by presenting the list of current elders (we don’t have any new elders this round) to the congregation. We are not a congregational led church so the congregation is not voting to determine whether they think each of the men should be elders. They are responsible for indicating if any of the men have disqualified themselves from office based on Biblical qualifications (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4). If anyone feels that this is the case then they would need to meet with the elder board to determine if this is indeed the case.
Looking over the passages that list the qualifications for an elder we come across the following:
the husband of one wife
There has been debate as to whether this requirement means a man must be married (as opposed to single), a man must not be divorced (at any time, after being reborn). Most views on this requirement accept that a man who aspires to be an elder must be faithful to his wife (if married). No matter how one deals with this qualification I doubt that anyone accepts that a man could be a polygamist and still be qualified to serve as an elder/pastor in the church.
Based on this requirement it is interesting that David, the King of Israel and a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:13-14; Acts 13:22) and to whom was given the covenant of a Messiah King who would come from his line and rule forever (2 Sam 7:4-17; Acts 13:23) would not be able to serve as a leader in the church because he had many wives (1 Sam 25:43; 2 Sam 5:13). This is just an observation. Had David lived in the church age he may not have made the choice to marry additional women.
Reflecting on this observation one can see the importance of marriage and family in the eyes of God. As they are key indicators of whether a man – even one with the right heart – is fit to lead in the church.If a man can not live with his wife in an understanding way his prayers are hindered (1 Pet 3:7) and if his own house is in disarray then it is wise ask:
if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?
If deacons must be tested before serving, how much more must the elder. And where else but in the daily living among family can one see the true character and test of a person.
Another point of reflection is that God takes leadership seriously. Those who lead in the church have many responsibilities beyond just governance and oversight. They are responsible for providing a community where spiritual growth and love can occur. They must preserve unity and sound doctrine. And they must live knowing they are role models to the community on what it looks like to follow Jesus. These qualifications for elder are not for the “super-faithful” of the church. All who call Jesus Lord are called to live in such a way that they could meet them as well. While David may not have been able to be an elder in a church, we are still right to ask if God can say the same of us – are we someone who is after God’s own heart.