One of the writers in a little devotional booklet we read each morning has written a nine-part series on this subject. I have deliberately not read the future parts so that they will be fresh when we get there. We were reading the 3rd installment this morning.
Perhaps because of my own changing role this has been on my mind, and I thought it appropriate to share a few thoughts.
A little more than a year ago I wrote a small “thought” about succession. It dealt mostly with Moses and Joshua.
Today’s segment of the series touched on Samuel and his sons, and the sad results. It was interesting. However, after we had read it, Gael commented:“It wasn’t Samuel’s business to choose his sons as judges to follow him.” (or words to that effect) As I thought about that it struck me how often the judges in the book of Judges fell into the same problem. The people chose the judge, or the judge chose his successor, or the judge chose himself; with dire results. When God raised up a judge, you could be sure it was the right person!
As I thought about this, I began to think a little about how this plays out in our local churches. We believe in a plurality of elders; and often this results in a “self perpetuating” body of men that is based on bloodlines, or personal likes, or whatever. We look to Paul’s instructions to Timothy and Titus on the matter; and all too often forget Paul’s statement to the elders of the church in Ephesus (recorded for us in Acts 20); “…the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” We debate the fine points of the matter, and wrestle with “how they are recognized” or whether any today have the authority of Paul (or his delegate Titus) to appoint elders. We debate what “apt to teach” means, or what it means to be “the husband of one wife”, and we distinguish between “teaching elders” and “ruling elders” and on and on it goes.
My thoughts and my prayers are that we might be more concerned about the Lord’s mind as it relates to passing the baton than to some of the other things we tend to focus on.