In order to serve as elders and deacons in the local church, the apostle Paul writes, “Likewise their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things (1 Tim. 3:11). It has often been said that behind every good man there is a good woman. While that saying may be true in many cases, it absolutely must be true in the case of those who serve as elders and deacons in the Lord’s church. It would be easy to think of a wife’s behavior as irrelevant when considering whether or not a man is qualified to serve as an elder or deacon because after all, she is not the one who is going to be appointed to the work. However, in the wisdom of God, every elder and deacon should have a supportive, godly wife by his side. The scriptures reveal explicitly that a man may be disqualified from serving as an elder or deacon simply by the fact of having an unqualified wife.
No doubt, many good men have been held back in their service to the Lord by wives who did not share their level of commitment and faithfulness. According to 1 Timothy 3:11, in addition to meeting all of the other qualifications given in the New Testament, men who wish to demonstrate that they are qualified to serve as elders or deacons must have wives who are characterized by the following criteria:
Their Wives Must Be Reverent
The reverent woman conducts herself in a way that causes others to respect her. The kind of women who would be considered reverent are those who have learned “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Tit. 2:4-5). The wives of elders and deacons must submit to their husbands in everything (Eph 5:24). “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Col 3:18). As Christ is the head of the church, even so, the husband is the head of the wife (Eph 5:23). If members of the church must submit to the authority of elders, of necessity he must also have a submissive wife. Other members of the church will not respect a wife who shows a lack of interest in spiritual matters, who fails to manage her house well, who has obvious moral faults, or who otherwise displays immaturity. An irreverent wife disqualifies her husband from serving as an elder or deacon.
Their Wives Must Not Be Slanderers
The wives of elders and deacons must not behave like the devil by engaging in the spreading of false statements that are harmful to the character or reputation of another. She cannot be one who is known to engage in the spreading of gossip (Prov. 26:20), or in backbiting (2 Cor. 12:20). If a man’s wife does not control her tongue, then that man is not qualified to serve as an elder or deacon.
Their Wives Must Be Temperate
The elders’ wives must be able to control their temper even as their husband is required to do so (1 Tim. 3:2). An unstable woman who is prone to lose her temper and say vicious things in a fit of anger would disqualify her husband from serving as an elder or deacon.
Their Wives Must Be Faithful In All Things
This qualification demands that these women display faithfulness to God in all areas of life. A woman who dresses immodestly (1 Tim. 2:9-10), refuses to submit to her husband as head of the family (Eph. 5:22-23 f; 1 Tim. 2:12), who doesn’t regularly attend the services of the church (Heb. 10:25), or who otherwise fails to behave like a Christian (Gal. 5:19-23), is the type of woman who will disqualify her husband from serving as an elder or deacon.
Must Have Obedient Children
God does not trust His church to be ruled by single men or to married men without children. It is not enough that a Christian man have all the personal qualifications of becoming an elder or a deacon. It is not enough that his wife also have all the above listed personal qualifications. In addition to all of these, God requires that they also be parents of obedient children. “One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Tim 3:4-5). “Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well” (1 Tim 3:12). Anything less than obedient children makes him unqualified to become an elder or deacon.
Conclusion: It is clear that many good Christian women meet these qualifications. However, their husbands do not meet the qualifications required of either an elder or deacon. On the other hand, it is also sometimes the case that good Christian men meet all of the qualifications required of either an elder or deacon, only to be prevented from serving due to an unqualified wife. It is also apparent that both husband and wife can be qualified but they don’t have obedient children. It is important to understand that both husbands and wives must live up to the Lord’s expectations in order to fulfill God’s plan for the local church with regard to elders and deacons. It goes without saying, you can’t have the church without Christ as its head (Col 1:18), you can’t have local churches without faithful members (1 Cor 12:27), and you can’t have elders and deacons without faithful and obedient wives and children (1 Tim 3 f; Tit 1).