Imagine different gardeners and their plants.
In one case, there is but an overgrown pot. Everything is under control, but growth is stifled. The plant could be several times its current size, but that would mean being repotted or placed in the garden. It would mean having room to grow.
In another case, the garden is neglected. The plants are sickly. They need weeding and pruning. They need water and fertilizer. With attention, the garden could be lush and fruitful, but this garden has many a brown spot and plants that are about to die.
The third garden is hardly a garden. Dead plants really do not a garden make. It is evident that something toxic had been in this garden. Instead of water and fertilizer, these plants received poison.
The final case is a lush, green, and fruitful garden. It has received good care from the gardeners. Weeds have been pulled. Water and fertilizer have been applied, and the increase is great.
The story of the gardeners provides a lesson for the church. The selection of elders and deacons is a vitally important decision. As the work of gardeners affect the garden, so does the work of elders and deacons affect the church.
Overbearing leaders (see 1 Peter 5:3) can stifle the life of the church. The church can be like the pot bound plant—capable of great growth if given the chance but stifled instead.
Neglectful leaders fail to do the work that needs to be done. The church can become like the neglected garden in need of weeding, pruning, fertilizing, and watering.
Toxic leaders bring false teaching (see Titus 1:9-11) or emotional abuse. Instead of the sound doctrine that produces spiritual health. False teaching kills off the life of the church.
Finally, good leaders do the work that needs to be done in the church. The result is a healthy church. The members are equipped for service (Ephesians 4). The church grows and produces good fruit.
The health and growth of the church are dependent on the quality of leadership we have. May we choose wisely. Good leaders promote “sound (healthy) doctrine (teaching).” Along with equipping people for ministry, this should lead to a healthy church. Such a church needs to be biblical in its teaching, moral in its ethical life, and loving in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18). This love is demonstrated in service and ministry as we encourage one another and reach out to the world around us.