“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
2 Timothy 2:2
Dear Elder Candidates,
In 2 Timothy 2:2, the Apostle Paul is writing to his true child in the faith, Timothy, directing him in the way he is to shepherd the church. There, he lovingly encourages Timothy to be strengthened by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and then he shares with Timothy a profound instruction…entrust this gospel…this mystery of grace…this responsibility for the bride of Christ…entrust it to faithful men. This is exactly what we are doing when we ordain and install new elders for Christ Church: entrusting her care to faithful men.
As an elder, you have been called by God to serve as a shepherd for His sheep, and as a steward of His church. This is not a board you will serve on. It is a calling that has been placed on your life by God. It is a weighty calling. It is a glorious calling. But the glory will never be yours. The glory will always belong to Jesus. With that in mind, there are several things you need to know.
YOUR GIFTEDNESS WON’T BE ENOUGH
My brother, your church family has nominated you for this calling. They may have done so because they saw certain gifts in you, and while you will need every one of those gifts in your work as an elder, those gifts will never be enough. You see, you have been called to a supernatural work. If you merely rely on your own giftedness, you may indeed accomplish some good, but you will always be limited. You need more than your giftedness. You need the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. So be men of prayer.
YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS WON’T BE ENOUGH
You are joining a group of elders who have gone before you, everyone of whom need the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. So do you. On your best day, you will struggle with the lingering presence of sin. On your good days, you will give in to sin. Everyday, you will remain utterly dependent upon the grace of Jesus.
Your people will need you to know this. Your people will need you to live in humble, daily dependence upon the Savior. Your people will need you to be a lead repenter, daily dying to self so that you can daily grow in living for Christ. Your people will need you to know that Christ is the only good in you. So be men of grace, humbly walking with your Savior, remaining ever present at the foot of the cross.
YOUR POWERS OF REASON WON’T BE ENOUGH
The work of a shepherd is messy. You life is messy, and your people’s lives are messy. They will need you, mess and all, to engage in the messiness. Popular Christianity has sought to sanitize the life of faith. Popular churches often times will turn a blind eye to the mess, but Jesus always entered him. The Good Shepherd did not run from conflict. He entered in to the messiness of people’s lives, with grace and truth, seeking reconciliation and redemption.
You can not stand at a distance and reason your way through people’s lives. You must engage. You must embrace. You must love well. So be men of courage, and grace.
GOD WILL BE GLORIFIED THROUGH YOU
God has called you to this work, but you are not enough, nor will you ever be enough. Not only is that ok, it is beautiful. Don’t you see? Jesus tells us in His Word, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9) Few areas of your life will expose your weakness more than your work as an elder. Yet at the same time, few areas of your life will bring more glory to God. So rejoice. Give it your all. Serve well. Love well, and know that if you are trusting in Christ, He will be glorified. This is His church, not mine, or yours. So be men devoted to Christ and His glory, above all else.
My brothers, I am thrilled to serve Jesus’ church, and Jesus’ people alongside of you. I am praying for you, as I pray for myself, that we indeed would be faithful men, sharing in suffering as good soldiers of Christ Jesus. I pray the Lord would bless you, and His people through you, as He continues to bless His Church.