PAUL’S ADMONITION TO the elders of the church of Christ at Ephesus is a pertinent challenge to all elders. An analysis of this inspired advice to the Ephesian bishops shows the importance of elders taking heed to themselves…
Paul urged, “Take heed to thyself…” The word translated “heed” literally means: “to hold to, . . .turn one’s attention to . . .” There are several reasons for elders taking heed to themselves. One reason is because elders have a soul to save, viz., their own (Mat. 16:26). Elders, like preachers, may become preoccupied with the spiritual needs of others to the degree that they lose sight of their own spiritual liabilities and personal needs.
As surely as elders must be men of great spiritual stature they must “take time to be holy.” Spiritual development and maturity is a process which involves prayer, devotional Bible reading, and meditation on things of God (Psa. 1; 119; 2 Tim. 2:15; Phil. 4:8).
Elders are not immune to temptation. They may give in to sin, succumb to subtle solicitations to violate or neglect the will of God, and they may become discouraged with their own efforts to live the Christian life and/or the efforts of others.
There is another reason elders must “turn attention” to themselves: elders lead in spiritual matters by example. They must be diligent in developing and maintaining a godly character. Can a spiritual pygmy successfully lead the saints of God? Elders must spiritually “stand head and shoulders” over the crowd. The concept of church edification means that God’s people grow and develop spiritually. They develop Christlike characters. But Christlike leaders must show the spirituality and demonstrate the possibility of accomplishment in this vital area of Christian living. (Tom Holland, “ELDERS – THEIR DUTY OF SELF-EXAMINATION,” The Spiritual Sword, Vol. 9, Ap., 1978, Num. 3, 8).
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).