Considering the Elders
Chris' Corner -- Sunday, August 15, 2021
The words overseer, elder, pastor, bishop, and presbyter are all used interchangeably in the New Testament to refer to men appointed to the leadership of a congregation. We would do well to consider often the work they do.
How grateful we are to have men who watch for our souls. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). It should be the goal of every church member to live in such a way as to make the elders’ job easier.
We should never take our conduct toward the elders lightly. Paul reminds us, “So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). If God commands obedience to the elders, we can be confident we will answer to God if we failed to do this.
It comes down to an attitude of respect. Consider these two passages. “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Timothy 5:17). The church is not some business or corporation full of self-serving ambitious people full of pride and arrogance. Yes, we like our own ideas, but in the end, elders make the decisions. Christian brethren must give them the respect and high esteem they deserve.
It is hard enough to care for our own soul, let alone watching out for an extra 60, 80, or 100 more. Elders are not perfect. They are human like the rest of us. They struggle with temptations. Satan may be working overtime to try and bring down an elder or destroy the eldership. Imagine, what happens then to the flock. How grateful we should be for our godly shepherds and the sacrifices they make on our behalf.
There is a scriptural avenue for objection when it comes to matters of faith. There is a proper way to go about this (1 Timothy 5:19-20). However, take notice of this command. “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.” Paul warns us of the potential danger of receiving unjust accusations from someone else against elders. Be careful where you lend your ear.
Whenever we see a lack of respect and honor for the elders, it will probably be over matters of opinion or physical aspects of the local work. Shame on us for not having a more spiritual mindset and encouraging the elders more, since they “watch for our souls.” We would be far less likely to criticize otherwise faithful elders or complain about petty matters if we would remember our souls are entrusted to the “spiritual” care of the elders (1 Peter 5:3).
Elders need the flock’s support and prayers. We believe in prayer for ourselves and others. Don’t forget the elders. Pray they can bear the burden of the souls under their care. Pray their understanding of God’s word will help them keep the wolves away from the flock. Pray for the elders to make the wisest and most expedient decisions possible. Pray they will be able to deal with disgruntled, complaining, and spiritually weak members. Pray that the elders do not become discouraged. Pray for them to keep their eyes on the things above, knowing from where their strength comes. Pray the elders will receive the love, honor, and respect they deserve. Pray these things will start with each one of us.