Reading: 1 Timothy 3:1-13

These verses are a list that helps Christians appoint elders and deacons in their local church.  Who are the elders and deacons at your congregation?  What are the important qualities that men should have in order to be elders or deacons?

These verses show us how important our families are in helping us be good servants.  If a man wanted to be an elder or deacon, what qualities should his wife and children have?

Sometimes we think of an elder or deacon as acting a certain way when we see him at church.  We forget that he has a role to play at home, and that his home life is what makes him such a good elder and deacon for us.

Small Means and Great Ends is a collection of stories edited by Mrs. M.H. Adams published in 1851.  The book may be read free online.


Of all places in the wide world, my own early home excepted, none seem to me more pleasing in memory than my grandmother’s cottage. Very often did I visit it in my boyhood, and well acquainted with its appearance within, and with almost every object around it, did I become. It stood in a quiet nook in the midst of the woods, about five miles from the pleasant seaport where I was born. The cottage was not a spacious one. It had but few rooms in it; but it was amply large for my aged grandparents, I remember. They lived happily there. My grandfather was somewhat infirm; my grandmother was a very vigorous person for one of seventy-five; this was her age at the time of my first recollection of her. She used to walk from her cottage to our home; and once I walked with her, but was exceedingly mortified that I could not endure the walk so well as she did.

I used to love this cottage home, because it was so quiet, and in the summer time so delighting to me. I believe I received some of my very first lessons in the love of nature in this place. It was a charming summer or winter retreat. If the sun shone warmly down anywhere, it was here. If the wind blew kindly anywhere, it was around the snug cottage, sheltered as it was on every side by the tall old pines. If the robin’s note came earliest anywhere in the spring-time, it was from the large spreading apple-tree just at the foot of the little garden lot. How often has my young heart been delighted with his song there! And then, what sweet chanting I have heard in those woods all the day from the thrush and sparrow, yellow-bird and oriole! How their mellow voices would seem to echo in the noon-silence, or at the sunset hour, as though they were singing anthems in some vast cathedral! They were; and what anthems of nature’s harmony and praise! God heard them, and was glorified.

It seemed to me that every animate thing was made to be happy. I loved to stand beneath a tall old hemlock in a certain part of the wood, and watch the squirrels as they skipped and ran so swiftly along the wall, or from branch to branch, or up and down the trees. Their chattering made a fine accompaniment to the bird-songs. And here I learned to indulge a fondness for the very crows, which to this day I have never outgrown. Though they have been denounced as mischievous, and bounties have been set upon them, I never could find it in my heart to indulge in the warring propensity against them. They always seemed to me such social company–issuing from some edge of the woodland, and slowly flapping their black wings, and flocking out into the clearing, huddling overhead, and sailing away, chatting so loudly and heartily all the while, and reminding the whole neighborhood that when we have life, it is best to let others know it! Yes–the cawing crows have been company for me in many a solitary ramble; and whenever I hear them, I inwardly pay my respects to them. All these, and other familiar sights and sounds, did I richly enjoy at the old cottage in the woods.

I loved to sit at the shed-door, and watch my grandfather at his slow work; for he had been a mechanic in his day, and was able to do a little very moderately at his trade now. He would tell me the history of the old people in the neighborhood, and of the customs and fashions when they were boys and girls; and my eyes and ears were open to hear him. I used to wish I could see them just as they looked when they were children. It was very difficult then for me to imagine how those who had become so wrinkled could ever have had the smooth faces of infants and children. But my grandfather could remember when he was a boy; and his father had told him what things were done when he, too, was a boy. And so I concluded that wrinkles were no disgrace, nor the fairest faces of the young any protection against them.

My grandmother was very fond of me, and took great pleasure in having me read to her, as her eyesight had become somewhat dim. And so I used to load myself with story-books and newspapers, when I became older, to carry and read to her. And such times as we had with them! Voyages, travels, discoveries, adventures, perils,–the wonders of the world, the wonders of science, the wonders of history,–all came in for their share of reading. Though I should read myself tired and sleepy, my grandmother would still be an interested listener. Since I have been a minister, I have often wished that many hearers would as eagerly listen to what I had to say especially to them, as did my aged grandmother to my young words then.

Those sunny days have departed. The old cottage is not there now. Years ago it was taken down. My grandfather died when I was yet a boy, and I followed him to the grave with a heavy heart. My grandmother lived to be almost a hundred years old,–her powers all gone, and she helpless.  It would sometimes, even in my manhood, deeply affect me to have her look into my face with no sign in hers that she knew me, when she had once loved her talkative and delighted grandchild so fondly. But she, too, found her resting-place at last beside her companion. Peace to them! They blest me with their kindly, cheering words when most I needed them, and I will bless their memories. And peace to the spot where once stood their quiet home! Wherever in life I may be,–however brightly its pleasures may shine, or heavily its cares and afflictions press upon me–never would I outgrow the inspiration of these early enjoyments; never forget, that, however the great, proud, and contentious world may distract and dishearten, there will yet be peace to the humble and virtuous soul in many a nook like that which sheltered and blest my grand mother’s cottage.

For Further Study:

  • Read Proverbs 16:31.  It really is a wonderful thing to see “gray heads” in our church family.  It means that we are blessed with many examples of living a full, rich life in active service to the Lord.  Our society doesn’t honor its elders the way they used to.  American society prefers to celebrate youth instead.  But read these verses warning us to honor our elders: Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 23:22; and 1 Timothy 5:1-2.
  • Try to imagine yourself at sixty years of age.  Will you be qualified to be an elder or an elder’s wife?  What kind of plans can you make now so that you can have those qualities in the future?
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