For both growth and peace in the assembly, the saints and especially the elders must make every effort to emulate the Lord Jesus Christ Who is full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Fullness of truth means that we should be willing to teach and discuss all passages of Scripture and all topics related to life and godliness to which the Scriptures speak, not avoiding even the most controversial, uncomfortable of self-condemning subjects. We must speak, not only of the love of God, but also of His holiness and the holiness He desires in His people. This is a joyful holiness because it is convicted (i.e., convinced in one’s heart) by the Holy Spirit, empowered by the Holy Spirit, motivated out of a growing love for Christ and rooted entirely in Scripture not straying into prideful legalism which goes beyond the Word of God.
Full of Grace means we should make every effort to deal humbly, charitably, peaceably, patiently and tenderly with each precious saint. This grace is the foundational characteristic which produces gentle shepherding, just as pride is the fundamental vice that leads to tyranny.
Scripture is our sole and sufficient standard for Christian living and pleasing Christ. Our conscience must be bound to Scripture alone, never to a creed, a confession, a denomination or a man. Although we thank God for good men and are incredibly grateful for good creeds, we are bound to Scripture.
The Biblical goal of the church and its ministry is to encourage and nurture the saints toward Christ likeness, not to pressure, demand or threaten Christian lambs. Though we do not withhold any truth of Scripture or its valid implications for belief or behavior, we leave the personal application to the individual homes and the headship of the husbands and the oversight of the Holy Spirit. The only matters the elders must be insistent upon are the following things: immorality, heresy, divisiveness, and orderliness in the church meeting.
No saint comes into the meeting as a blank slate. We all have a history, both positive and negative, which will color our perspective in how we hear truth and apply truth. Mature shepherds will take this into account in how they discipline the saints.
No shepherd is perfect in character or ability, so he can best serve the Lord and His people in a plurality where his weaknesses are balanced by the strengths of his fellow elders and by the input of other godly saints in the flock.