The Definition of an Elder
Do you have a private battle with discouragement? Talk to a mentor.
“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 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; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” (1 Peter 5:1-5, ESV)
What is an elder? Who is an elder? Who has God entrusted to tend to His flock? Many of us would not consider ourselves to be an elder, yet in many of our cases God would say that we are. If God has entrusted you to tend to someone in His flock, and you are willing to suffer at all costs to ensure His flock is cared for, no matter the size, then consider yourself an elder.
Age does not matter (although I won’t lie, it helps). What does matter is your walk with Christ. When God puts us in this position we are held to a higher standard. We are to be the examples to the flock. Do you shepherd for your own gain? Or do you deflect it all to Christ, to God be all the glory.
You may say you are not qualified to be an elder. Yet it is not up to me, or you, it is up to God. Praise God, He did not go by man’s standards when He chose Paul and called him into the ministry He laid before him. Praise God He called on Moses and not someone else. I could go on all for a long time, but I won’t. You get the gist.
Take a minute to read 1 Peter 5:6-11.
We all face burnout every day. The weight of caring and tending for a flock is way more than any human can bear. In this passage we can see that Peter knew this for he shares how the Holy Spirit was guiding him.
First he says to humble ourselves. We can’t do it! Cry out to Jesus, He can! Cast your anxieties on Him. He loves us so, He will gladly take the weight off our chest. Do not let pride get the best of you. Cast it off when in His presence, for if you carry it with you, it will be a burden.
Be of sober mind. Brothers and sisters, we must be ever watchful, we must always be alert, we must always be aware of what His Holy Spirit is guiding and telling us. We can’t see or identify an evil spirit, but Jesus can! Paul wrote that he prays without ceasing, his mind was always alert to His Holy Ghost, always in His presence.
Resist the enemy. In and by suffering, the enemy will try to gain a hold on you. Who do you hold on to for dear life during your trials, during your suffering? Rest in the fact that many have suffered and will suffer in the name of Jesus. Be glad and full of joy to partake in the suffering of our Lord and Savior.
Remember brothers and sisters, this is a temporary home. Do not invest your eternity in life that is here on earth. Everything we do for God has eternal value.
Heavenly Father, we lift up our elders to You today. We pray discernment upon them Lord God, to know and accept the call You have placed on their hearts, on their lives. Father let us hold our elders up and sustain them in prayer, knowing the burdens and the sufferings they will face. Let us all apply these tidbits of wisdom shared by Peter. Let us all seek You Lord, to answer whatever call You have placed on us, and rely fully on You. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Questions: Have you ever been an elder? What was that experience like? How can you encourage the elders in your church today?