The Proud Elder

Posted on

In an article of another blog I follow, A.W. writes about leaders who know how to follow. He writes:

What would [young leaders] do when faced with a church body with a hundred other men just as gifted as they are? What would they do when told that they wouldn’t have opportunities to teach quickly, but that the nursery was desperately in need of help, the refugee ministry needed volunteers, and there’s a three year leadership apprenticeship that they could plug into?

I can relate to that. Our church is incredibly gifted at teaching with several qualified and talented teachers and pastors. Had I got my wish a few years ago, I would have been one proud elder. Thankfully, God revealed my sin.

A.W. writes about gifted and humble leaders. I hope this doesn’t come across as arrogant: I’ll let others decide whether I am such things. I do know that ever since I became a Christian, I’ve been drawn to teachers and teaching. I am the heady intellectual type who (I say to my shame) was once too smart for God, but whom God saw fit to save for his own reasons anyway. In part, my desire to read, study, and learn provided me with the opportunity to teach the occasional class and lead a small group. And for the longest time I thought that the natural progression for me was to become an elder, like the next rung of the church career ladder.

My pride became all too clear when another brother was invited to become an elder before me. He arrived at our church after we did, and yet he was selected before me? Even after I had made known my desire to become an elder to one of the other elders, had been faithfully serving around church, and leading a small group for a while? I was jealous; this wasn’t right! But it was my motivation for becoming an elder that wasn’t right. Fortunately my fit didn’t last too long (and I don’t want to dwell on it). I confessed my pride to this brother when we were serving together at Vacation Bible School later and asked his forgiveness.

Besides my pride, I was in error. I had a wrong view of what it means to be an elder (despite reading several books about eldership; being smart and well-read doesn’t make one right). I have been content to just serve since then. And I learned that I prefer the background: Safety team, mixing sound, helping in our book nook, writing discussion guides for the other small group leaders. I’d rather be Hur than Moses. I have also realized that being an elder is scary. There is greater condemnation for those in leadership. I’d be responsible for shepherding people’s souls! Who can bear this weight?

I still desire to be the kind of man who is qualified to be an elder, whether or not I ever will be. Until then, Lord help me faithfully serve your people in humility.

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash