I have worked with elders for a long time; not just Memorial's but several others in the process of mutual kingdom activity. Elders are people. They are not perfect mini-Jesuses. They do have weighty responsibilities. Some have served as shepherds out of ego while some seem to have served out of guilt. Others find it their honest-to-God calling....and they are very good at fulfilling such a role. These need our applause.
The called ones are those I now address. What makes a good one. While multiple responses would be appropriate, I address only one. Fearlessness is such a blessing to any flock. Courage to follow God regardless of opinionated pressure is the mark of a true, faithful, and kind presbyter.
When an man oversees the congregation and is afraid of none of the members, you have a good elder. However, if he fears another elder, or the preacher, or the big donor, or his own wife, he's ruined. He may stay in the position, but his decisions will be warped. Imbalance, as well as dwarfed fruit, will follow.
My guys are people. One thing that I've long admired is every decision is based on what they think God thinks. This is such good news to the staff as well as the congregation. These men have other important big-career-job responsibilities. Yet, they make tough decisions regardless of the attack and misunderstanding such may create.
Elders are people. Sure, they are likely to misread God at times. What human doesn't? Thus, a congregation may take two steps forward and one step back. But the idea of a church leader operating from pressure of any of the flock is catastrophic to the body health. Too many elders hold their position while trying to lead from the fetal position of fear; somebody might leave, someone might hold back their check. Good elders care more for the over-all flock than pacifying the one or two critics.
What makes a good elder? I think that anytime a congregation finds men who are brave enough to stand alone on their decisions regardless of support, we have diamonds in the rough. A lot of elders set themselves up for criticism because they are able to be faithful to God and keep their mouths shut from unnecessary (even protective of another) information.
May they be highly exalted! May they be pleased to serve the upside-down, inside-out concepts of God when so many times such opportunities just don't make sense.