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Self Evaluations for Elders and Deacons



According to our Confession of Faith:

“A local church, gathered and fully organized according to the mind of Christ, consists of officers and members. The officers appointed by Christ are overseers or elders, and deacons. They are to be chosen and set apart by the church called and gathered in this way, for the distinctive purpose of administering ordinances and for carrying out any other power or duty Christ entrusts them with or calls them to. This pattern is to be continued to the end of the age.”1
“Christ has appointed the way to call someone prepared and gifted by the Holy Spirit to the office of overseer or elder in a church. He must be chosen by the collective vote of the church itself. He must then be solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer. The body of elders of the church must lay hands on him if there are any already in place. A deacon must be chosen by the same kind of vote and set apart by prayer and laying on of hands as well.”2

The roles of elders and deacons represent distinct yet equally high callings, each demanding exceptional character and unwavering commitment to Christ and His church. Elders, as spiritual overseers, are called to shepherd, and manage the flock with wisdom, teach sound doctrine, offer pastoral care, and model godly living at the highest level. On the other hand, deacons serve an equally crucial, yet more practical role under the leadership of the elders, focusing on service and administration to address the physical and logistical needs of the church community. While the elder's role is primarily one of leadership, teaching, and direction, the deacon's role is one of service and support, both underpinned by a character that is above reproach, demonstrating the transformative power of the gospel in their lives. Both roles, therefore, are vital to the church's health and mission, reflecting a divine calling to serve God's people with humility, integrity, and love, each according to the distinct capacities and responsibilities God has ordained. The qualifications expected in these offices are not something unique to them but expected of all believers, and although not a call to perfection, these qualities are to be clearly exemplary in these men. Together, they set standards for the congregation so people can follow them as they follow Christ.


As a church nominates such candidates, it has to prayerfully consider the qualifications necessary for such a person, and a prospective elder or deacon might prayerfully think through their current walk as a believer asking God if they are ready for such a service. In some cases, there is a sense of calling, but a need for time to develop and grow. Consider each of the areas described in the New Testament as you recommend, or are recommended:


Self Evaluation for Elders

These questions, grounded in Scripture, are designed to help prospective elders prayerfully and honestly evaluate their lives against the biblical criteria for leadership, fostering a process of self-examination and growth toward the high calling of leadership. When considering the role of an elder, it is essential to align one's qualifications and character with the biblical standards outlined in the New Testament, particularly in the pastoral epistles of 1 Timothy and Titus. Below are the standards for eldership each accompanied by its biblical basis, and accompanied by questions for self-reflection:


Aspiration and Calling:

1 Timothy 3:1 emphasizes the noble desire for the office of overseer, suggesting the importance of a heartfelt aspiration, and unique drawing to this form of service.

  • Question: You may not have even considered such service until approached by someone, but regardless of the instigation, do you feel a God-given desire and calling to serve as an elder, understanding this role's weight and responsibility?


Above Reproach:

Being above reproach, as stated in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6, does not refer to perfection, but signifies the necessity of clear and above-average character that demonstrates Christian virtues publicly and privately at a high level.

  • Question: Is your life exemplary, free from behaviors or habits that could bring unnecessary criticism or discredit to the church?


Family Leadership:

The directive that an elder must manage his own family well (1 Timothy 3:4-5) and have faithful children (Titus 1:6) illustrates the correlation between one's household leadership and one's ability to lead in the church.

  • Question: Does your relationship with your spouse reflect Christ's love for the church? Would you be considered overbearing, controlling, or harsh? Do you lead and nurture your family in a way that models godly principles? Do your children follow your leadership and example?


Self-Control and Discipline:

Although the standards described here are for every follower of Christ, the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8 for self-control and discipline call for a higher, exemplary standard that reflects the inner strength and stability required for church leadership.

  • Question: Are you disciplined in your habits and behaviors, exhibiting self-control, respectability, and an exemplary life?


Hospitality:

The command for hospitality in 1 Timothy 3:2 highlights the elder's role in welcoming and caring for others, reflecting God's love and openness.

  • Question: Are you genuinely hospitable, and relational, willing to open your home and life to others?


Teaching:

The requirement in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:9 for an elder to be able to teach emphasizes the importance of doctrinal soundness and the capacity to instruct and guard the church against false teachings.

  • Question: Do you have a firm grasp of sound doctrine and the ability to communicate it clearly to others?


Maturity and Experience:

The caution against being a recent convert (1 Timothy 3:6) underscores the value of maturity and proven faith in leadership.

  • Question: Do you demonstrate spiritual maturity, embodying the fruit of the Spirit in your conduct and decisions?


Reputation and Influence:

The requirement in 1 Timothy 3:7 for a good reputation with outsiders ensures that an elder's influence extends positively beyond the church.

  • Question: Do you have a good standing in the broader community, living in a way that honors Christ and promotes the gospel?


Avoidance of Conflicting Behaviors:

The instructions in 1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7 about not being a lover of wine, violent, or greedy for gain call for personal integrity and a focus on serving others above self.

  • Question: Would you be considered violent, or argumentative? Are you free from addictions, not contentious, and not motivated by monetary gain? Regardless of your view of the consumption of alcohol, are you willing to lay aside its use to remove stumbling blocks for others as exemplify a higher standard?


Skills Needed for Elders:

The New Testament outlines various practical skills that elders should possess to fulfill their roles effectively within the church. These skills are distinct from the expectations of deacons. Here are some of the key skills mentioned along with the corresponding passages:

  1. Able to Teach: One of the primary responsibilities of an elder is to provide sound doctrine and instruction based on the Scriptures. This ability is emphasized as a requirement for eldership.

  • 1 Timothy 3:2 - "Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach."

  • 2 Timothy 2:24 - "And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful." On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself in this area?

  1. Able to Lead and Manage: Elders are called to lead the church and manage its affairs diligently and faithfully. This includes stewardship of the church's resources, guiding its members, and overseeing its operations.

  • 1 Timothy 3:4-5 - "He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)"

  • 1 Timothy 5:17 - "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching." On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself in this area?

  1. Able to Care & Counsel: Elders should possess a heart for people, as well as wisdom and insight, to provide counsel and guidance to church members, helping them navigate their spiritual and personal challenges.

  • James 5:14 - "Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord."

  • Acts 20:28 - "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood." On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself in this area?

  1. Able to Communicate the Gospel: Elders should be equipped to share the gospel effectively, not only within the church but also in their broader community, fulfilling the Great Commission.

  • 2 Timothy 4:5 - "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."

  • 1 Peter 3:15 - "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself in this area?

These skills are essential for elders to shepherd the church effectively, teach sound doctrine, lead by example, provide counsel and care, and communicate the truths of the gospel with clarity and conviction. Having answered these questions, review them with your spouse as she would be part of the evaluation as well. How does she feel about your self-assessment, and where is she her level of support for such a role?


Self Evaluation for Deacons

These reflective questions are based on Scripture, and aimed at assisting prospective deacons in evaluating their lives against the biblical standards for this vital service role. By engaging in this self-assessment, individuals can discern their readiness and suitability for the diaconate, aligning their character and conduct with the guidelines presented in the New Testament, especially as outlined in 1 Timothy. Here are deacon standards, each paired with its biblical basis and introspective questions:


Dignity and Respectability:

1 Timothy 3:8 calls for deacons to be dignified, indicating the need for a respectable, honorable demeanor.

  • Question: This may be difficult to express with humility, but do you conduct yourself with dignity and respect, demonstrating a character that garners respect from others?


Sincerity and Honesty:

The admonition against double-tongued behavior in 1 Timothy 3:8 highlights the importance of integrity and truthfulness in communication.

  • Question: Are you consistently truthful and transparent in your words and actions? Would people say that you are free from gossip and a critical spirit?


Avoiding Addictive behaviors:

Deacons are instructed not to be lovers of wine (1 Timothy 3:8), emphasizing self-control in all things.

  • Question: Would you say you are “above and beyond” an affection for potentially addictive substances like alcohol and marijuana?


Not Greedy for Dishonest Gain:

The directive for deacons to not be greedy for dishonest gain (1 Timothy 3:8) underscores the ethical standards expected in their conduct.

  • Question: Are you free from an unhealthy pursuit of financial gain, especially by dishonest or unethical means?


Sound Faith and Pure Conscience:

Holding "the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience" (1 Timothy 3:9) calls for a deep, genuine faith and moral integrity.

  • Question: Does your life reflect a steadfast faith and a conscience clear of guilt, particularly in matters of faith and morality? Are there secret addictions to things like pornography?


Proven and Blameless:

Before serving as deacons, individuals must be tested and found blameless (1 Timothy 3:10), affirming their readiness and suitability for service.

  • Question: Have you demonstrated reliability in your Christian walk and service within the church?


Faithful in Marriage and Family:

Similar to elders, deacons must manage their families well and maintain faithful marriages (1 Timothy 3:12).

  • Question: Are you committed and faithful in your marriage and family life, exemplifying Christian leadership at home?


Mature and Dignified:

The overall character requirements for deacons point towards maturity and dignity, essential for those serving the church in practical and spiritual capacities.

  • Question: Do you exhibit maturity and dignity in your behavior, making you a fitting example for others in the congregation?


By thoughtfully answering these questions, prospective deacons can gauge their preparedness for this significant role, ensuring they meet the biblical qualifications for deaconship and are ready to serve the church effectively and faithfully. Having answered these questions, review them with your spouse as she would be part of the evaluation as well. How does she feel about your self-assessment, and where is she her level of support for such a role?







By James Biesiadecki


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