Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Pray for us . . . (Hebrews 13:17-18)*
AUTHOR: TODD BROWN
I’m not only the lead pastor of our church but also an elder—elected to serve as one of the overseers of the flock. I can tell you that I, and my fellow elders, take our responsibilities seriously. According to the Hebrew writer, we will one day have to “give an account” of how we led the Lord’s church under our care. It’s a sobering thought to have to stand before Christ and justify our actions.
We are just men, from different walks of life, different generations, and at different stages of maturity in our faith. We’re human, prone to sin and imperfection. We don’t always make the right decisions. We sometimes are unclear in the directions we give. We make mistakes.
But we really do have the best interest of the flock in our hearts.
We love our church and we love our people. They’ve been very patient with us as we have tried to fulfill our ministry and grow the Lord’s church in this place. But we are continually in need of prayer.
Here are seven specific things you can pray for concerning the elders of your church:
When God appointed Solomon to lead Israel after his father David’s death, Solomon cried out to God:
“Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart . . . (1 Kings 3:9-12)
It is no small thing to become a shepherd over the household of God. Discerning the needs of the people; settling disputes among the church family; overseeing the proper stewardship of people’s giving; the administration of staff and volunteers—all takes much wisdom. Elders often feel, as Solomon did, underqualified to lead the people of God.
So pray that God would grant the elders of your church the spiritual insight they need to fulfill their duties. It will be to your benefit to be shepherded by men who have been supplied God’s supernatural wisdom.
A good shepherd knows where to lead his flock. He is always on the lookout for danger. He seeks out the best pasture. He has a plan, every day for his sheep. He knows where he’s taking them.
The elders of your church have not been commissioned to maintain the church but to grow it. They are always looking for new ways to invest in the spiritual well-being of its people and to impact the community at large. They are always on the lookout for opportunities to enhance the ministry opportunities before them.
Pray that your elders will be given a vision for the future of the church that is in line with God’s vision. Pray that they hear the voice of the Great Shepherd, leading them as they lead others
Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:7-9)
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)
If holiness is a prerequisite for seeing God, the elders of your church should soberly model it before their flock. They should live exemplary, well-disciplined lives. Paul goes so far, in his letter to Titus, to say that an overseer must be blameless.
Satan is always at work attacking men and women at their weakest points. The elders of your church are probably under a greater attack than most. Pray that they will stand their ground against all of the devil’s schemes. Pray that they will desire holiness in their inner being.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
The elders of your church were selected because they manage their own households well. They are often leaders and managers in business or community affairs. Elders are usually men who have been put in leadership or management roles most of their adult lives.
Leadership takes a toll. There is always someone or something that needs attention. There are always meetings, phone calls, memos, emails and—did I say—meetings! An elder gets tired in his body and in his spirit. Leading a church can be draining. He desperately needs the strength that God provides to adequately fulfill his ministry. Pray for health, endurance, vigor and grit for your elders. They need it!
In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8)
An elder must possess an ever-growing understanding of God’s Word. He must be able to find the right answers to the inquiries raised by his people concerning doctrine, sound advice, and godly counsel.
The Apostle Paul has a wonderful prayer for the people of the church in Colossae. It’s printed below for you to read. Try this: Repeat this prayer and insert the words “the elders” or the name of a specific elder when Paul refers to “you”:
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9-12)
If you’ve ever served on any kind of church committee, you know how easy it is for Christians to disagree and get crossed up with each other. Satan loves disunity and disharmony in the church. Just look how many different churches there are!
The eldership of your church must maintain unity to be effective shepherds. Your shepherds can’t be leading in a number of different directions. That’s why it’s important for you to pray that the elders have unity among them. Pray that they would be reminded of Paul’s admonition to the church at Ephesus:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Look again at the above scripture from Ephesians 4. We are all called to “be completely humble and gentle.” The elders of the church must set that example as well for the church. As they eagerly serve God’s children without “lording it over” anyone, the elders and the church will be blessed. What a special blessing is in store for those leaders who serve well—the crown of glory!
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:2-4)
So please . . . pray for us.
*All scripture taken from the New International Version