To the Elders, Pastors, Overseers
I want to take a moment to reflect on a position that tends to get much more slack than it deserves. The people in these positions deal with more counseling than a psychiatrist, more familial drama than Jerry Springer, and inherit the impossible task of trying to "make everyone happy." It is not a position that I often hear as one that is desired. Most of the time, they receive no pay, yet they work for the church more than anyone else. I have rarely, if ever, heard them complain about their position, though it is obvious stress has taken its toll. They are given little thanks and even less credit. To the elders, pastors, and overseers of the church:
You are given more than your fair share of issues from the members of your local congregations. You have problems that are constantly coming up, and as soon as you seemingly fix one, another shows up in its place. Like the three-headed snake, you are battling an impossible enemy. You receive phone calls in the middle of the night or early morning regarding something someone is struggling with. Yet every time, you answer the call. Every time, you prayerfully consider the outcomes of your actions. No ONE takes as seriously their position in the church as you elders, pastors, and overseers. You are given a task--which you voluntarily accepted--and of which you will be judged: keeping watch over the souls of God's church.
I would like to take this time to recognize the importance of your position in the church by sharing an account in Acts 20 :
"From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them, "You yourselves know, from the first day that I sat foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. "And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. "Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. "Be on guard for yourselves and for the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. "
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. "Therefore, be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. "And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. "I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes. "You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. "In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "
Paul loved the men that he was talking to at Ephesus. We know that they "wept" and "prayed" around him. They embraced Paul, and he was sent away by them. The fact is that we have to respect the position of these men. The highlighted areas emphasize their roles and their attitudes. They are literally in charge of shepherding the flock (the church), ensuring that each soul remains accounted for. They are not perfect, nor should they be expected to be; however, they are faithful and will continue to do what is best for the flock as they were charged with such a duty. I think we have given higher expectations of these men than they should be expected to adhere to. They have one goal in mind: taking care of the members' souls.
We should proceed from this point with a view of respect toward them. They are given an extremely important job. Every situation that is presented to them is one they need to face. They have to put out small and large fires alike, and they do so without having an incredibly large support network. So let's consider their position in the church. Consider also the position of their families.
We need to remember that the elders, pastors, and overseers are brothers and leaders. Take some time to pray for your elders. Next time you disagree with them, give them a chance and expect that they have considered already what is bothering you. Give them the benefit of the doubt. If you have an issue, these are the guys you should reach out to. They are also the ones we should aspire to be like. Pray for them brothers and sisters. They are ministers on our behalf.
If I can help you in any way, please let me know.
Until next time...