It's time to start thinking about who you should nominate... No, I'm not talking about "the Donald."
This Sunday, Jan. 17, begins a four-week period during which Peace members can nominate men to serve as officers. Within our form of church government, it’s the responsibility of communing members to choose those who govern (ruling elders) and serve (deacons) the church. The Session will examine these men to ensure their qualification for office, but it is ultimately the congregation who nominates and elects.
So what should we look for as we choose men for these important roles? First Timothy 3 and Titus 1 give us authoritative lists of qualifications for office. I hope you’ll prayerfully examine those texts in the days ahead.
Additionally, to aid in your considerations, I’ve also found the following list, compiled by former PCA pastor Jean Larroux, to be insightful. He notes that those we call to rule and serve us should be:
1) Chief sinners - We need men who are deeply aware of their own sin, who wisely mistrust their own motives and hearts. Such people handle sin issues with mercy and humility, because they will always see themselves as brothers to the broken and not above any manner of sin or failure.
2) Chief repenters - It’s one thing to see your sin; It is another to see your Savior! Sin drives us to Jesus, and there we are free to repent and celebrate forgiveness. Men serving as officers at Peace should be leading repenters in the pews, at home and in other relationships. Ask yourself, “Is this man’s repentance as public as his sin?”
3) Knowledge of the triune God (and himself) - Humility is a litmus test. Is this a man who honestly believes that God will have to work at Peace in spite of him as well as through him? Does he love his own opinion more than God’s word? Is he willing to take on responsibilities that don’t necessarily earn human attention, but do catch God’s eye?
4) Teachability - Who is speaking into the potential nominee’s life? Does he have all the answers, or does he listen to the counsel of his wife (if he’s married), his peers, his small group and church leaders? Ask him the question: What has God taught you in the past two years?
5) Correctability - Does he bristle when corrected? Sometimes we can avoid correction by choosing to operate in the spheres of our own strengths, where we can be the “expert.” Have you ever seen him fail? Does he then fall into grace, or into a creative justification?
6) Love of God - Ask him to tell you about his relationship with his heavenly Father, then just listen. Is that relationship defined by only duty or by joyful devotion? When he talks about God, is there a constant theme of amazing grace? The old hymn, How Great Thou Art, says, “And when I think that God, his son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in!” Can he honestly sing those words?
7) Love for neighbor - Does he genuinely care for others? If you say yes, think of two or three specific examples you’ve noticed recently. A nomination is a personal endorsement. If the Session asked you to justify your endorsement, what would you say?
8) Ability to say, “I’m sorry… I was wrong” with no caveats - What is an apology from him like? Are there a lot of breadcrumb trails to others who share the blame? Is he a victim of misunderstanding and misperception or of his own wicked heart? Is there anything other than “my sin covered by Jesus’ blood” in his repentance?
9) Wisdom and discernment - Does he use good judgment? Does he have the reputation of a man who can be trusted? Would you trust him to determine whether or not you were in sin EVEN IF you didn’t think you were?
10) Commitment to the worship and work of Peace - Is he on board with the vision and mission of Peace? Remember, as members we vow to “support this church in its worship and work,” and to “submit to the government and discipline of the church.” If those vows enjoin the general congregation against contention, how much more should they bind our officers? Ask him: Do you LOVE Peace? Do you LOVE where we are headed? If the answer to either of those has a disclaimer, then ask this question: Why would you want to serve as an officer of a church you are already hoping to change?
As we seek to Worship Christ, Build Community and Love Cary over the next few years, our church’s officers will play a vital leadership role. I’m excited to see whom God will raise up from amongst us. And remember as you pray about men to nominate: this is a sobering process for a high and holy calling. Take it seriously - God does.