On Being an Elder
This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Steve Flood, one of Northpoint’s elders.
On Being an Elder
Hello Church Family,
John asked me to write “a little” about my thoughts on being an elder. Writing “a little” is difficult for me. As Brent Whitefield says about me: “Why should Steve use one word, when three sentences will do?” I truly enjoy being an elder. I enjoy working alongside men who love the church, and bring their unique strengths to bear on the plurality of leadership. I love seeing believers grow to know and love Christ more every day and seeing God bring new people to salvation. To know our Lord better and to be a participant in our Lord’s mission has been an ever-compelling calling for me.
As I thought about what I wanted to write, I decided that it was important for me to share the hope I have for the body and the passages of Scripture that have focused my efforts as an elder. As one who feels a great concern for the spiritual health of our people, it has been very important that I do not get distracted from God’s primary goals for His church. The following two passages have helped me to stay on track when deciding what direction to go, and how to get there.
The first passage is Ephesians 4:14-16: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Before I became a believer, I experienced a wide range of shepherds in the churches my family attended. Once I became a believer, I began to understand the importance of the shepherd and had a heart to see the church shepherded well. I understood that all people had an instinctive need to be led (this includes leaders themselves) and shepherds had a huge responsibility to ensure leadership moved people toward a maturing relationship in Christ. From the passage above, I also began to understand that we were responsible for leading each other to Christ. Whether I was an elder, Bible study leader, ministry volunteer, or in some other line of church service, I realized I was in a unique position to reach others that could not otherwise be reached. Because of these experiences, I have made it one of my primary goals to strengthen each believer’s commitment to present their time, energy, resources, skills, and spiritual gifts toward the growth of the believers they are in contact with on a regular basis.
A second verse that has directed my shepherding is I Timothy 1:5: “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
I love this verse. Love: “love” for God, “love” for the brethren, “love” for the world. Love, but the right kind of love: from the right heart, the right conscience, and the right faith. This is our aim. Love is not godly love unless it acts from the right source and from the right condition. Our maturity is not measured by buildings, programs, hard work, sacrifice, memorized Scripture verses, attended Sunday services, or time in morning devotion. Unless these products and actions are rooted in love, and move us toward love, they are misplaced. God’s kingdom is, most importantly, a kingdom of souls. He alone gives souls life, but He sends us on a pilgrimage here on earth to participate in the pursuit and maturation of those souls. Godly love is the means and the goal in this pilgrimage: Spirit-led, prayer-saturated, Christ-focused love, pouring itself out in the service to our Lord and to the world. The church’s shepherds must not deviate from a focus on love, in its full biblical meaning, when leading the body.
I love seeing the Body of Christ mature, and love being able to be a part of it. I encourage each of us to pray about our unique place in the Body of Christ, to understand how critically important that place is, and to faithfully steward all of our individual gifts, in love, that we would grow in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ.