“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)

I suspect every flock had some contrary individual sheep. This one tended to wander off and get lost. This one tended to fall into trouble regardless of how hard the shepherd sought to produce a safe environment. This one looked at the shepherd as an enemy, no matter how hard the shepherd tried to befriend it. This one never understood a dangerous situation. It constantly was in life-threatening situations.

Congregations are no different. This member consistently wanders off and gets lost. This member forever gets himself/herself into trouble. This member always sees any leader as an enemy. This member never sees danger.

A hard question: Does a man willing to be an elder, be a congregational shepherd, do so in spite of you, or because of you? Though never an elder, I spent a segment of my life in elders’ meetings. Once when asked to speak to a gathering of elders, I started by noting that I likely had attended more elders’ meetings than most of them had.

With that exposure, I have seen a bit of everything. A tragedy I witnessed [more than once] involved caring elders seeking to address trying members without all the facts. Congregational leaders are at a disadvantage when they know confidential things they cannot reveal. Nothing is ever as simple as it looks on the outside!

I once knew a group of men who were to be new elders. They were certain they could make needed changes in 6 months. When they became elders, they became aware of conditions they did not know. The only answer for their changes was to slaughter some sheep. Is it the role of the shepherd to destroy the flock? Thankfully, the chief Shepherd seeks to save, not destroy!

Selecting additional elders is a time for personal reflection as well as evaluating lives. It is too easy to expect others to do and be what we never intend to do or be! It is too easy to criticize and hard to be encouraging! It is too easy to discourage and hard to be a source of the joy!

We do not need to decide we, personally, will make leadership more difficult! Satan will take care of that! We need to be part of the joy! Only we can take care of that.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 1 February 2007

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