Some elders may have sensed that an important aspect of elders’ qualifications has not been mentioned—that is, intimate knowledge of the people. While knowledge of scripture, church government, and counseling are essential, they will not make a man a good elder if he does not also know the flock. The good shepherd knows his sheep.
A good elder will be like a good doctor. Before he treats his patient, a doctor will get an “H&P”—a history and physical. He will assess my present condition via a thorough physical examination and learn my history by asking me to fill out an extensive questionnaire. The history will be valuable for his treatment of me. Is there heart disease in my family, or glaucoma? Did any of my relatives have cancer? More important than my family’s history is my own—my childhood diseases, past surgeries or injuries. Is there a history of substance abuse or depression? Even my social history may be helpful—am I married, single, or divorced. And every doctor must know my present condition—allergies, medications, tobacco use, etc.—before he is ready to treat me most beneficially. Not knowing these things may expose him to making serious errors of judgment in my treatment.