A Treatise on the Eldership (Chillicothe, Ohio: DeWard Publishing Company, Ltd.)

82 pages in the print edition

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1. There is Such an Office
2. Title of the Office
3. The Titles Explained
4. Duties of the Office
5. How to be Examples
6. How to be Shepherds
7. How to be Overseers
8. How to Withdraw the Disorderly
9. How to be Teachers
10. Primitive Mode of Teaching
11. Qualifications for the Office
12. Intellectual Qualifications
13. Plurality of Elders
14. Selection and Appointment
15. Regular Meetings
16. Want of Time

Very practical study of New Testament leadership. One of the most helpful insights for me was on selection and appointment:

We have only one example on record, in which we are distinctly told what part was taken by the congregation, and what by the ordaining officers. This is the case of the seven deacons of the church in Jerusalem. The Apostles called together “the multitude of the disciples,” and said, “Look you out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:2-3). The selection, then, was made by the multitude, and the appointment by the apostles. The distinction made between these two terms should not be overlooked. The term appoint is sometimes understood as including the selection, but in the style of the apostles it means merely induction into office, and is distinguished from the selection which precedes it (Kindle Locations 833-839).

Good Shepherds I Have Known:

Ed Riadon

Near the end of my first New Shepherds Orientation Workshop, an elder asked, “Who is one of the best elders you have ever served with?”. My mind went to Ed Riadon in Madisonville, Kentucky.

We met first when Gail, Jerrie Wayne, and I stayed in their home in November, 1968. We were in Madisonville to “try out” as the next preacher. During a diaper change, Jerrie Wayne, two months old, deposited a high amount of humidity on their couch. I thought that would be the end of my consideration. But Ed and Sarah were understanding, telling us they were grandparents and that had happened before.

This was my first impression of a great shepherd and his wife. Ed worked at the Post Office and introduced us to disposable diaper samples recently delivered through the mail.

I passed the “try out.” We started working with the Madisonville church in December, 1968. He invited me to go with him on visits with members, visitors, sick, new parents, bereaved, and discouraged.

One of my favorite Ed stories occurred on one of our first nights visiting. As we were finishing, he asked, “Do you like ice cream?”. When I replied in the affirmative, he pointed me to a Kwik-Pik Market. Ed bought a half-gallon box of cherry-almond-vanilla ice cream. He went into the kitchen, placed the box of ice cream on the table, retrieved a serrated edge knife from a drawer and cut the box of ice cream in two. He handed me a spoon, half the ice cream, took another for himself, and said, “I never like to eat ice cream unless I can eat all I want.” We finished the half-gallon. I knew this would be a great relationship. From the first meeting until his death, April 11, 1976, I was able to observe a good shepherd in action.

Some of the admirable characteristics I saw:

  1. He was firm. When the elders asked me to speak on a difficult topic, an elder would go to the pulpit before me and say, “We asked Jerrie to speak on this topic. We encourage those who need to make changes in their lives to do it today.” After the sermon, an elder would publicly thank me for the sermon and commend those who responded.
  2. He was compassionate. His tone was gentle, even with those who were upset with him. He gave hope and encouragement to a man we visited one night who was drunk. I was a young preacher who made mistakes. When Ed discussed those with me, he always expressed confidence I would learn and do better.
  3. His priorities were obvious. He spent more time with sheep than in meetings talking about “the members.” His leadership was demonstrated then in the lives of his children and decades later it is still there.
  4. He was approachable. Ed and Sarah often invited my family and others into their home. They were “given to hospitality.” I felt free to drop in anytime I wanted to talk.

When I think of good shepherds, I think of Ed Riadon.

Who are good shepherds you have known?

Helping Deacons Deak:

when elders assign the work and deacons don’t do it

There are two problems in delegation: not releasing a task and not accepting responsibility.

I received the following email after a previous post:

Marked this (delegation) early this morning to send to my elders…they do a great job in this area. The most challenging things for them are:

  • Deacons who “grew up” under a system where they were not allowed such freedom and end up wanting an elder to always hold their hands.

  • Members who do not accept deacons’ given authority and bring matters to them instead of dealing with deacons.

Here are elders who want to be shepherds. They want deacons to lead in their areas.

Two Problems:
  1. Some deacons don’t take responsibility.
  2. Some members think elders should know about and be in charge of everything.

How Can You Improve?