24 September 2007

Sober Smiles

You know, I was just about ready to not mention this to any broader audience, but now that Botrager has sent out an announcement to several people, I see that I'd get busted if I failed to at least mention this here.

I've been given the true honor of being selected as an elder in my church. The elders occupy a somewhat ambiguous position in a four square church as they have no voting role, and in fact don't even need to exist. The group is conveened by, and serves at the pastors convenience. We act as a sort of non-binding advisory group for the pastor...at least that's what the bylaws say. Functionally, elders have the role of acting as role models in the body, serving as spiritual thermometers for the pastor and other leaders, and we act with the explicit written Biblical authority to pray for the sick. Pretty heady stuff really. From the biblical perspective, they are one of the few 'offices' that get any ink in the Kingdom and Paul makes the establishment of elders a priority when he set up churches.

While I'm pretty excited by the whole thing, I'm also quite humbled. It's a serious responsibility in my mind and I really don't want to take the whole thing lightly. So please pray for me that I don't bollocks this up or serve poorly. The fact that teachers are judged by a different standard is a sobbering thought and as different folks shake my habd and say various things about what they think of this appointment I'm really made aware of the fact that God is no respecter of persons...


Michael said...

Rock on, brother. Well done. And keep that mindset—it's a defense against pride, and I think sometimes the most open position for God to work through us.

Devin said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Michael. I spent some time this morning reading about the latest abuses of power amongst the televangelist celebrity circles on TBN, and then testimonies about the corruption and abuses of Hank Hanegraaff and the CRI under his control. The thing that continually stood out in my mind was the importance of humility - both humility toward God and humility toward man.

You've probably already thought of it, and perhaps the position of elder doesn't have a whole lot of clout on paper, but it seems to me a very important position because it's one in which you have a duty to keep the pastor accountable to his flock. Humility before man means being willing to accept criticism and the possibility that you may be wrong. But humility before God means not compromising His Word, submitting to it and making certain that the pastor submits to it as well, even if that means you take flak from others in the church for being "divisive," "stirring controversy," or being "arrogant." The true follower of Christ is not ashamed of Him or of His Word, and when faced with the option of making ethical compromises in order to "benefit the congregation" or "spread the Gospel message further than previously possible," trusts God and doesn't compromise. The man of God knows that God loves him, but doesn't think that he's so important that God's work can't be done without him.

Sorry to dump all of this on you, but since you're someone who's joining a church hierarchy, I feel like these are things which are of utmost importance in this age of personality cults and shameful excesses in the clergy.

Remember Who it is you answer to, and that those who take on the mantle of leadership likewise assume greater responsibility for abuses - millstones and drowning and all of that. Cheery thoughts, eh?

Like Michael said, Rock on, my brother!

Silverback said...

Dude - I hear you. That theme of humily before the Lord has been brought up over and over again in this process. And I'm so very aware that the opportunity to fail in that regard is huge.
But I'm equally aware that we often call uncertainty and inaction 'humility.'
Devin, your comment on how a humility to God is way different than human humilty is spot on in my opinion, and yet you soon realize that to walk in those shoes will almost immediately set you up for the exact opposite charge from men.
So -who do I fear?

Devin said...

Well, you can always reply, "Hey - you gave me this position!"

Remember the example of Thomas Becket.

If I hadn't mentioned it before, you are a man that I would trust with this position. I respect you considerably.