by Terry Stine
Forty-four years ago, six men signed my Ordination Certificate. These were men who had influenced my life, who had disciplined me spiritually and physically as I grew up in the church where they served as elders and spiritual leaders.
One man was an executive in the construction industry. He looked at the church through the eyes of a man who was used to making decisions that initiated change.
Another was a corporate executive who preached when needed and taught classes to Jr. and Sr. high boys.
The minister of my home church was also an elder and he encouraged young people to go into ministry. He took us to Bible college campus activities and gave me opportunities to preach while I was still in high school.
I remember how another signer, who as a financial consultant, used his gifts to serve the church. He helped people in the church in such a soft-hearted way. Money was a tool for God, not a goal for gain. He made sure the congregation gave significant scholarships to young men and women who wanted to go to Bible college.
The signature of the minister that I was serving under as a new youth minister reminds me of his practical help in my life. He had been a Bible college professor, started churches, and took time to help me through my first wedding and funeral. He gave the “charge” for my ordination.
Finally, one signer is a long-time friend who grew up in the church with me, and had accepted the call to minister there after he graduated from college. His life also gives testimony of godly elders who had known us personally, and had invested in our lives.
These men took time to exhibit the qualities that Paul wrote to Timothy about in II Timothy 4:2. They were prepared to correct, admonish, exhort with encouragement and patience, with careful instruction from the Word.
They all had worldly skill sets that could have been dominant in their eldership. Instead, they allowed their spiritual calling as elders to be dominant and allowed their worldly skill sets to be used in secondary ways. Instead of thinking like COOs, CFOs and CEOs, they were ministering simply as elders. Most of these men also took night classes at St. Louis Christian College to increase their biblical knowledge to lead as biblical leaders.
Jewish elders in the Old Testament were older men and respected for their spiritual wisdom. They were instrumental for the preservation of life with God in the covenant community. When Paul appointed elders in the new churches that he planted the purpose was the same. That is the reason Paul emphasized the qualities that should already be exhibited by those selected to spiritually protect and guide the local congregation.
Paul shared with Timothy and Titus the qualities that elders should exhibit. These lists of practical actions and attitudes would allow these men to be models of mature Christians in action and thinking. They were to be memory makers.
Some of the men who signed my Ordination Certificate have passed away. Others moved and are in various congregations across the United States. What they did as elders, how they exhibited the love of Christ through teaching and example, made an impact on me. My ministry during the past forty-seven years has influenced many people in several countries to accept Christ. The memories of those who shaped me live on in lives that they personally never knew.
What memories are you making as a biblical elder today that will reach around the world and through the years for Christ?