In a new work, is there a danger of encouraging some to take oversight prematurely?

In a new work, is there a danger of encouraging some to take oversight prematurely?

The Ephesian assembly was established and had existing elders (Acts 20:17) when Paul wrote Timothy. The teachings in 1 Timothy, however, give us principles that apply to a new work.

On the subject of elders, Paul advised Timothy to "lay hands suddenly on no man" (1 Timothy 5:22). Personalities differ, so that some give immediate evidence of failings; for others, time will expose their sins (v 24). In some cases, it may also take time before the positive features become evident (v 25). Second, Paul listed in the qualifications of elders, "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:6).

In the first passage, Paul highlights the liabilities of those who recognize what the Spirit of God is doing in raising up elders. They do not possess omniscience, so they need sufficient time to be certain that the traits they observe are of lasting quality.

In the second reference, Paul points out the liability of the individuals being considered. Some degree of spiritual maturity is necessary to give a man sufficiently steady hands to carry the full cup of responsibility entailed in oversight. Human nature too easily responds to leadership with a sense of pride, leading the individual to overstep his responsibilities to his own, and the assembly’s, detriment.

Many who have observed God’s work over the years could cite examples of work that was crippled or destroyed by men who were given leadership responsibilities prematurely.

David Oliver