One group of functional leaders which God placed within the church is described by three different terms in the New Testament. We usually call them “elders” (Titus 3:1), but two other terms used in the New Testament to refer to this group and the work they do are “overseer” (I Timothy 3:1) and “shepherd” (I Peter 5:1-2).

In part, we know the responsibilities of the elder/overseer/shepherd by how these terms were used in New Testament times. The title “elder” indicated someone who by reason of experience and wisdom were recognized as community leaders and examples. The word “overseer” (or “bishop”) suggested a manager or administrator. It carried the idea of someone who was a “steward”, that is, someone who was responsible for making sure that jobs get done and that the general welfare of the community is provided for. And finally, the word “shepherd” (or “pastor”) indicated a person who cared for the well-being of others. It suggested the idea of being responsible for protecting and providing for others.

Two clearly marked lists of qualifications of the elder/overseer/shepherd are found in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. The purpose in both of these passages is to show us the kind of leaders God wants us to have. We are blessed to have four men like these shepherding our congregation.