Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.
-- Acts 14:23
Founded a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the US Marine Corps is famous for its involvement in some of the greatest battles in history. And more than two centuries later, the Marines continue to serve our nation with uncommon distinction and valor. But as courageous as they are, the Leathernecks would be ineffective without the high caliber of its officers. So vital are these leaders that the Marines continually recruit individuals who demonstrate the following key attributes:
- BEARING – Personal conduct reflecting alertness, competence, confidence, and control.
- COURAGE – Remaining calm while recognizing fear.
- DECISIVENESS – Making good decisions without delay.
- DEPENDABILITY – The ability to be relied upon to perform duties properly.
- ENDURANCE – The mental and physical stamina measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship.
- ENTHUSIASM – Sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties.
- INITIATIVE – Taking action without direction when necessary.
- INTEGRITY – Honesty and truthfulness is what you say and do.
- JUDGMENT – The ability to think about things clearly and calmly to enable good decision-making.
- JUSTICE – The practice of being fair and consistent.
- KNOWLEDGE – Acquiring information and understanding people.
- LOYALTY – Devoted to your country, the Corps, and to your seniors, peers, and subordinates.
- TACT – Dealing with others in a manner that maintains good relations and avoids problems.
- UNSELFISHNESS – Avoiding making yourself comfortable at the expense of others.
That’s an admirable list that’s summed up in the Corps’ famous motto, Semper Fi (“Always Faithful”).
Jesus’ army of followers – collectively known as The Church – also needs outstanding leaders to help maximize their effectiveness as the citizen-soldiers of God’s Kingdom. We read in the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles that Paul and Barnabas “…appointed elders for each church. With prayer and fasting, they committed these elders to the Lord, in whom they had placed their trust.”
Paul wrote that “(t)he elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” And what are the key attributes of effective church elders? Paul puts it this way:
“Elders should be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, and have faithful children who can’t be accused of self-indulgence or rebelliousness. This is because overseers should be without fault as God’s managers: they shouldn’t be stubborn, irritable, addicted to alcohol, a bully, or greedy. Instead, they should show hospitality, love what is good, and be reasonable, ethical, godly, and self-controlled. They must pay attention to the reliable message as it has been taught to them so that they can encourage people with healthy instruction and refute those who speak against it.”
Like the Marines, Christ-followers are also fighting across the globe. But our battles are against the spiritual evils (“powers and principalities”) that dominate society. Faced with such powerful enemies, it’s no wonder that every local church – and The Church as a whole – needs wise leaders who demonstrate unwavering levels of character and faith in Jesus: leaders who are Semper Fi.