In many places we meet men who have been hurried into responsible positions as elders of the church when they are not qualified for such a position. They have not proper government over themselves. Their influence is not good. The church is in trouble continually in consequence of the defective character of the leader. Hands have been laid too suddenly upon these men. 4T 406
[ Selection of Leaders ] The apostle Paul writes to Titus: "Set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God." It would be well for all our ministers to give heed to these words and not to hurry men into office without due consideration and much prayer that God would designate by His Holy Spirit whom He will accept.
Said the inspired apostle: "Lay hands suddenly on no man." In some of our churches the work of organising and of ordaining elders has been premature; the Bible rule has been disregarded, and consequently grievous trouble has been brought upon the church. There should not be so great haste in electing leaders as to ordain men who are in no way fitted for the responsible work-men who need to be converted, elevated, ennobled, and refined before they can serve the cause of God in any capacity. 5T 617
The gospel net gathers both good and bad. It takes time for character to be developed; there must be time to learn what men really are. The family of the one suggested for office should be considered. Are they in subjection? Can the man rule his own house with honour? What character have his children? Will they do honour to the father's influence? If he has no tact, wisdom, or power of godliness at home in managing his own family, it is safe to conclude that the same defects will be carried into the church, and the same unsanctified management will be seen there. It will be far better to criticise the man before he is put into office than afterward, better to pray and counsel before taking the decisive step than to labour to correct the consequences of a wrong move.
In some churches the leader has not the right qualifications to educate the members of the church to be workers. Tact and judgement have not been used to keep up a living interest in the work of God. The leader is slow and tedious; he talks too much and prays too long in public; he has not that living connection with God which would give him a fresh experience. 5T 618
Such arrangements should be made for the little companies accepting the truth as shall secure the prosperity of the church. One man may be appointed to lead for a week or a month, then another for a few weeks; and thus different persons may be enlisted in the work, and after a suitable trial someone should be selected by the voice of the church to be the acknowledged leader, never, however, to be chosen for more than one year. Then another may be selected, or the same one may be re-elected, if his service has proved a blessing to the church. The same principle should be followed in selecting men for other responsible positions, as in the offices of the conference. Untried men should not be elected as presidents of conferences. Many fail to exercise proper discernment in these important matters where eternal interests are involved. 5T 619
May the Lord impress upon the minds and hearts of all connected with the sacred work of God, the importance of ascertaining whether those who are to minister as deacons and elders are suitable men to be entrusted with the flock of God. Jesus calls Himself the "Good Shepherd." He does this in contrast with those who occupy positions of trust in connection with the church, but who have no right to these places, because they put a wrong mould upon the work. What is natural will appear. 7BC 914