Since I enjoyed David Mathis’ book on the spiritual disciplines called Habits of Grace, I was looking forward to reading his latest book on the qualifications of an elder – Workers for Your Joy. There are so many books out there on Christian leadership. What makes this book refreshing is it simply works through each qualification of an elder according to Scripture, carefully and clearly, without getting distracted by too many side issues. At the end of the book, the reader has a complete understanding of the biblical characteristics that pastors and elders should demonstrate.
The title of the book, Workers for Your Joy, as the call of Christ on Christian leaders, comes from 2 Corinthians 1:24, “we work with you for your joy.” Elders and pastors should find their satisfaction in Christ and serving him, which then overflows into being happy leaders (which everyone wants) serving wholeheartedly so that the body of Christ may find joy in God. Mathis says, “Christian leadership exists for the joy of the church” (16). This vision has been lost in many churches and the hope of the book is by working through the biblical characteristics, churches can regain the vision of their leaders as servants for the joy of the body of Christ.
I like the organization of the book. I find it memorable and clear. Mathis divides the fifteen characteristics of an elder from 1 Timothy 3 into three categories. Churches should look for men who are humbled, whole, and honorable.
- Humbled men are those areas of a life lived before God, the godward or devotional life. These are qualities such as humility, able to teach, and sober-minded.
- Whole men are those of integrity, those areas lived in private among those who know them best. These are characteristics such as self-control and good management of the home.
- Honorable men are those who display integrity in public, before a watching world. These are qualities such as being above reproach, respectable, and not quarrelsome.
The final chapter presents a contrast of Christian leadership versus modern celebrity by presenting insights from Acts 20. Christian leaders live for God and for others. They don’t lead to gain a following or to stoke their egos. Christian leaders live among the people, tell the whole truth, are not scared off by hardship, trust God and his gospel, and know the joy of giving their lives for the sake of Christ and the building up of the church. Mathis says, “True Christian leadership is fundamentally self-sacrificial in the pursuit of greater, deeper, longer-lasting joy… Pastors are workers for your joy, who labor best for the true joy of their people when they themselves are joyful in Christ (Heb. 13:17)” (259-260).
I recommend this book to everyone in a church. It is clear, biblical, concise, and readable. It could also be used by an elder team to work through as they look for potential future elders. It also has some nice appendix material on topics such as plurality and team, deacons, anointing with oil, and laying on of hands. I also found the discussion guide section to be interesting, with case studies and other creative questions that engage people with the material for real-life settings.
Link to Purchase: Amazon
I received a copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.