Don't Wait For Retirement

by David Padfield

Thousands of promises are made every day. At every wedding couples promise to remain "faithful till death." Statistics prove many of these vows were not honored.

Christians are also guilty of taking their promises lightly. Some promise to give better "when a few bills get paid." Others promise to study harder "when things slow down at work." Others promise to start teaching Bible classes "when they retire."

It has been my observation that those who give liberally when the bills are paid were the same ones who gave while in "deep poverty" (2 Cor. 8:2). Those who devote many hours to diligent study when out of work are usually the same ones who study hard while working overtime at the factory. Those who teach in their "golden years" are usually the same ones who taught in their youth.

There is a need for qualified men to serve as elders and deacons in the Lord's church today. I realize new congregations might not have men ready to serve as elders and deacons. As we read in the book of Acts, it was several years before some congregations ordained elders. However, there are congregations which have waited for over a generation for men to become qualified to serve as elders.

What is the problem? Part of it might be that congregations wait too long before urging men to prepare for the eldership or service as deacons. Paul gave a rather lengthy list of qualifications for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. Before a man was to fill either office, he was to "first be proved" (1 Tim. 3:10). He must show his ability to serve before he is ordained to this demanding work.

If a man is not capable of teaching before he is an elder, I doubt if he ever will be. A man who throws temper tantrums before he is ordained will not magically manifest self control afterwards. Those who "convict the gainsayer" (Titus 1:9) in their youth will be able to "hold fast the faithful word" as elders.

Those who desire to be of service to Christ when they retire must remember their creator in the days of their youth (Ecc. 12:1). After the kids leave home it's too late to decide to raise "faithful children" (Titus 1:6). After years of socializing with the ungodly, it would be hard to become "a lover of what is good, soberminded, just, holy" (Titus 1:8).

Let us strive to teach our children the importance of preparing for the service of God.

elders, deacons, bishops