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Elder's and Their Work

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Introduction- As we continue our study of Elders we need to understand what an important subject it is. This isn’t just another sermon, or another topic. It is of utmost importance. I have worked in congregations with various kinds of elderships, and even in a church without elders. I can tell you from experience how desperately the church needs elders, but more How important it is to have the right men in the eldership.
When we talk about Elders… We are not talking about, Just any position. But one that deserves our respect. James A. Garfield, twentieth President of the United States, resigned as an elder of the church of Christ in 1881 to take office. It is reported on that occasion he said, “I resign the highest office in the land to become President of the United States.”
We spent Last week focused on and as we looked at qualifications of elders. Today we are shifting our focus slightly to look at what elders are supposed to do.
(Side note: Tonight we are going to continue our Study in and look at our responsibility to our elders. They have a job and some heavy responsibility which we will focus on this morning, but we would be negligent if we didn’t also address our responsibility to them, so please be here tonight for that.)
They Shepherd the Flock.
1 Peter 5:2 ESV
2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
Part of their duties in shepherding is watching out for false teaching
Acts 20:28–29 ESV
28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
They can’t guard against false teaching, unless they know the right teaching. NOT the teaching of previous elderships, preachers, teachers, but the teaching of scripture.
Part of their duties in shepherding is to be among the flock.
1 Peter 5:2 ESV
2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
Being an elder is not a position of luxury. It isn’t a place where christian men, get to retire from service to Jesus. Rather it is a place where they show the example of how to work.
Dr. Lynn Anderson wrote a book on Church leadership concerning elders, and he Titled the book “They smell like sheep”
An elder is someone who is expected to be involved in the lives of the members, getting their hands dirty, smelling like sheep.
Just as as shepherd doesn’t just spend time with the sheep occasionally, He lives among them, so they will obey his voice. A man who acts as if the members of the congregation are beneath him, will never be the leader God wants them to be.
As a shepherd they will seek those that go astray
Matthew 18:12–14 ESV
12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
If a member of a congregation falls, it breaks the heart of a godly elder. They don’t throw their hands up and say, “Oh well, what can you do? It happens.” They seek after the fallen, because they love them, and God has trusted them to care for that soul.
Transition- We see the imperative, command from The Elder/Apostle Peter to Shepherd the flock. But, How does an elder shepherd the flock? How are a group of men supposed to do that for an entire congregation?
They are called to exercise oversight.
It is very important to understand what this means. Sometimes, we can hear the term “oversight” and we just assume it simply means that they are over everything. Much, in the same was a the boss of a company is over the company, in control of it. This is NOT what an elder is.
The Greek word for oversight- ἐπισκοπέω/ episkopeo literally means- “To look upon carefully, to care for the needs of”
An elder/shepherd is someone who is aware of the needs of the sheep and provides those needs.
This is sort of hard to define, because sheep have different needs.
Physical needs
Spiritual needs
There will be members who need prayers
There will be members who need instruction
There will be members who need correction
correction because they are wandering close to a cliff
Emotional needs
As we go throughout life, there are many challenges that we face. Sometimes we need someone to help guide us through difficult times.
When dad passed away, I was at the Hospital with my mom and an elder from the church in Blanchard came to the room in the middle of the night just hug my mom and tell her he loved her.
Sometimes it is hard to define what it means to exercise oversight, because the sheep have different needs, What is needed for one is not needed for the other. However, you usually know it when you see it. You see a man of God diligently tending to a need, and you know you are watching a shepherd work.
So, how does an elder shepherd? By exercising oversight, which means, carefully tending to the needs of the flock.
Elders also...
Elders are commanded to not be domineering.
Keeping in mind we are reading from the inspired word of God, from an elder, to elders. Peter was showing elders how they needed to shepherd. They were to do so by carefully tending to the needs of the sheep, and they were to shepherd by not being domineering.
κατακυριεύω/ katakyrieuo- “To exercise complete dominion and control ”
Notice what one elder reminded the other elders of. Being an elder or part of an eldership does not mean that you are in complete control. In fact, they were charged not to be that way.
I have known and have been part of congregations in the past where elders felt the need to make every decision about every thing, and be in control of everything that goes on.
I’ve also heard from men who think that if they become an elder, they will change this rule
When an elder or an eldership has a domineering mentality there are two major problems that come along with it.
They have elevated themselves to the level of Jesus.
Peter points out at the end of our passage, in V.11 that all dominion (same word) belongs to Jesus.
Why is it that elders aren’t to take the role of having complete control over everything? Because Jesus is in that position.
The church only has one head, one rule maker, one king.
They wear themselves out and cause others to grow stagnate.
If an eldership is in control of every detail of every work associated with the ministry of the church, then the ministers, deacons, and members will wonder what it is exactly that they are supposed to do to contribute.
Transition- Elders are called to shepherd the flock. They are to do so by being among the people, carefully watching out for the needs of the people and tending to them, not trying to dominate them with power and control… Some ask, if Elders aren’t supposed to be dominant how can they lead?
They are to be an example.
V. 3- immediately following Peter the elder/apostle charging other elders to not be controlling/domineering he tells them what to be. He tells them what not to be, then tells them to BE an example.
V.4 Peter tells the elders that if they do these things they will be rewarded when Jesus appears. (Why on earth would anybody want the position of being an elder? Peter gives some motivation here.)
Notice what Peter calls Jesus… The chief Shepherd. Remember Jesus’ words in ? “I am the Good Shepherd.”
What kind of example is an elder supposed to be? They are supposed to show us Jesus.
An elder will show us Jesus in
Their doctrine
Their life
Their family
Their love
Their obedience to the Father
To potential elders— A friend of mine told me recently that his daughter asked his son a question. She asked him, Do you love me? the son answered his sister, of course I do! why would you even ask me that? She said… “I just wanted to see if you hesitated.”…. Being an elder, serving God’s people is reserved for those who are qualified, proven and who deeply love Jesus.
If you are a man who is qualified based on what the scripture teaches, and you are asked to serve your Lord in this capacity, can I encourage you not to hesitate? The church needs men like you.
Conclusion- All these things that an elder is supposed to be, should be the qualities that all of us strive for.
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