appoint elders in every town… (Titus 1:5).
In essence, what makes someone qualified to be an elder? Is it a man with a strong presence in the church? Is it always the senior pastor, who by default receives such a title because of his position in the church or is it the man who has learned to be a servant? Humbling sacrificing his life to lead, love and protect others.
I believe sometimes, in the church, we have a true misunderstanding of what this role actually looks like. You see, when I was growing up, my father served as the primary protector and provider of our home. Yes, my mother served in ways as well, but we knew that it was dads strength that we leaned into for our family. You see, when he was strong, leading with humility and love, so were we.
Therefore, the role of an elder isn’t far off from the way my dad led within our home. An elder is not a man whose harshness or fear runs the roost, no, he is a man who has learned the art and grace of humility. He has learned the value of gentleness, patience and love. His courage is not shown in how he protects the church to preserve his own ego or guard his own fear, but in how he protects her from things that will cause those within the body harm.
I remember when I was in junior high, my dad cornered a young man after school because word on the street was that he was dating my sister. My father made it quite clear to this young man that his daughter was NOT supposed to be dating and that he was NOT to date his daughter. You see, my Father was protecting his daughter, because he loved her and longed to shepherd her from anything that could cause her harm.
But, what about elders who lead out of a place of insecurity? What about those men who see the church, not as a place to protect the vulnerable, weak, abused and mistreated, but as a building to brag about? These men will never actually help protect people, but will only protect their own egos. They are dangerous men who cause harm within the church, because they have not learned how to lead through humility.
Any individual who has not been humbled will cause harm against other people until they have learned that truly, their role in the Kingdom is not to have a platform, or a ministry to find their identity in. Instead, they are to act as a doctor to the sick, a soldier to the weak and a protector of the vulnerable.
Truly, as the gospel is lived out, sound doctrine is preserved and people are treated not as a problem, but as part of the Kingdom. When we follow this kind of thinking, our hearts can be set free in knowing that the church is for broken people and that there are elders within that body who will seek to love, honor, cherish, guard and protect those within it. I’m so thankful for the elders in my church who lead in such a way and have shown me what true biblical eldership looks like.
Lord, help us all to support those who lead us, but help us as well to know that we don’t have to submit ourselves to ungodly behavior from within the church. We release any shame any church leader has tried to impress upon us and we cry out for grace and love for one another, in Jesus name, Amen.