Tomorrow's Shepherds Today - Beyond the Qualifications
Beyond the Qualifications There is no question as to the importance and necessity of developing young men to meet the qualifications and qualities mentioned in 1 Timothy and Titus. However, there is so much more to being an elder that often does not get consideration. This is likely due to the fact that Scripture does not clearly lay anything out as it does in the Pastoral Epistles. That does not mean though, that other leadership characteristics are not addressed in a different form. There are four additional specific aspects of being a shepherd which we will give attention to, and which should be areas of focus and development for future elders. Those aspects are: Vision/Goals, Management, Leadership, and Developing Others.
Vision/Goals While much of what an elder does relates to the present and the immediate future, without a direction and planning for the long-term, the church will find itself eventually without focus and purpose. There has to be an understanding of where the church is going and wants to go in five, ten, fifteen, twenty plus years from now. This means that the leadership must have goals and vision for the future. Vision is described as, “a picture of the future with some implicit or explicit commentary on why people should strive to create that future,” and it further addresses the issue of, “how our world is changing, and here are some compelling reasons why we should set these goals and pursue the new products (or acquisitions or quality programs) to accomplish the goals” (Kotter 71). While God and His word will never change, the culture around us will always be changing. Having a vision for the future and setting specific goals will allow the church to adapt with the times and give them something tangible to achieve.
Training for the young men in this area can be done by splitting them into two groups of six. With the help of at least one of the older men per group, they can develop their own vision for the next three years. Each group can meet once a week, or every other week, to develop this vision, vision statement for their group, and goals to help achieve their vision. One thing they would want to do during the time they meet is a S.W.O.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. Evaluating these areas will enlighten the direction to go. After the vision and goals have been discovered, they can begin to be implemented. Once implementation starts the groups should meet no less than twice a month to make sure they are consistently assessing their vision. Furthermore, the vision should be thoroughly communicated to the congregation, explaining what, if any, their role will be in its accomplishment.