This morning, I posted over at our church blog a petition for prayer for our elders as we meet together this weekend for our our annual retreat. I'm sure in many places, elders have a bad name. Maybe simply because they are leaders and people do not naturally respond to leadership. Certainly in some cases people do not respond well to their leadership because their leaders have abused their positions. I'm sure if we thought about it long enough and heard from enough people, there are many reasons why godly elders seeking to lead a church begin with an uphill climb.
As I was thinking about our elders retreat and this potential scenario that others approach church leadership with tentativeness, I thought I would share one passage of Scripture that has helped me dramatically.
"So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:1-3).
Peter gives several commands to the elders of a church. This is why we are meeting this weekend as elders for a time away to pray, plan, and think about the future.
First, Peter says that elders are to shepherd the flock of God. Certainly there is a lot wrapped up in that statement. But the one I want to point out is that a good shepherd cares for His flock. He loves them. He feeds them. He makes sure they are doing well. One of the reasons for this time away will be to pray for the people God has placed in our care so our hearts are drawn towards them to care more deeply for them.
Second, Peter says that elders are to exercise oversight. This is leadership. Part of our time is going to be evaluating where we have been and planning where we see God taking us. We want to give oversight to this growing ministry. We want to set goals, evaluate how we are doing with those goals, and seek ways to impact our church and community for the glory of God.
Third, Peter says that the elders are to be examples to the flock. Part of our time this weekend will be to evaluate our own hearts. We will spend time as elders talking with each other about things we see in each others life. We need humility. We need grace among each other. We need to help each other be the examples of Godly men.
There is much more I could say about this, but time does not permit me at this moment. Would you pray for us? And if you are not part of CBC, I would urge you to pray for your leadership today. I'm sure they have made mistakes, but I hope they are quick to seek reconciliation when they have. Spend time today praising God for your leaders and asking God to continue working in their heart.
All for His glory and your good!