One of the “advantages” of term eldership is that elders get a regular “vote of confidence” from the congregation, and elders who are not living up to their calling are quietly removed from service. This is certainly attractive, although the better way would be to do the hard work of talking to the elder about his service. However, since our congregation has lifetime elders, there is no built-in review or evaluation.
In an effort to stimulate each other to better service, to promote honest communication, to sharpen and encourage each other, and to prevent small frustrations with each other’s work from growing, our elders thought it wise to meet together annually to have a frank evaluation of each elder’s strengths and weaknesses.
The following “Elder Self-Evaluation” was used for each man to reflect on prior to that meeting. At the meeting each elder in turn was asked to evaluate himself, giving several strengths and several weaknesses. The other men were invited to speak to or point out any other strengths and weaknesses. This brought to light areas of praise and areas where that elder had to grow in the coming year.
The risk in doing something like this is that we can wound one another, and that the meeting can turn into an unloving “attack” on various elders. However, as Christ’s undershepherds we all have the same goal—to take great care of his sheep. And in that spirit, realizing none of us is the “Chief Shepherd” with all the gifts, strength and wisdom, we committed to coming together to serve each other by being honest. May the Shepherd strengthen you as you serve his flock.
Reflect on your character in light of 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9.
Do you think people see you more as a “father of the household of God,” “shepherd of God’s flock,” or “ruler in God’s assembly” (Matt. 13:52; 1 Tim. 3:5; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2; Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Thess. 5:12f)? What needs work?
Do you think people perceive you as a servant? Why or why not?
Are you encouraged in your elder-work or are you tired, frustrated?
Do you feel united/close to the other elders? To the membership?
Are you delegating? Urging others to take up responsibilities and use their gifts?
Do you personally know those in your shepherding group?
Do you know their strengths and weaknesses?
Do you have a strategy for regular, personal contact? How effectively are you using it?
Are you attending worship regularly? Sunday school? Shepherding group?
By what other means are you growing?
How are you spiritually feeding your family? Your shepherding group?
What do you do for spiritual leading in the home (family worship)?
Are you involved in mentoring anyone? Discipling anyone? Teaching?
Do you regularly practice hospitality?
How do you capitalize on interactions with congregants to feed them?
Can you replicate from memory the gist of our church’s vision statement?
How are you working toward the three goals set by the session at its retreat?
How proactive are you in leading the committee (or ministry team) you’re involved in?
Where are you strong in leading by example? Where are you weak?
Gives examples of how you lead in personal godliness, family life, church commitments? Where do you need to improve?
Are you counseling anyone?
Do you regularly encourage people by noting God’s work in their lives?
Have you noticed the sheep using their gifts? Have you encouraged them to do so?
Are you protecting individuals by warning them of their own sin? Are you involved in any Matthew 18 steps with any of the sheep?
Are you pursuing any wandering sheep? Should you be? What is your plan to restore them?
How have you overseen the preaching? How have you encouraged the pastor in his work? How have you sought to strengthen his weaknesses?
Are you protecting people by guarding your tongue, avoiding gossip/slander?
Francis E. VanDelden is the pastor of New Hope Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Frederick, Maryland. Ordained Servant Online, May 2013.