Recently I wrote a post on 7 Ways Elders Can Drive People Away From Church. While I believe that true servant leadership is the number one need in our assemblies there are ways the sheep can be supportive of the elders that rule over them.
- Pray, pray and pray. Prayer is far more powerful a tool than most of us realize. Elders have tough roles to care for the sheep and need the supernatural help of the Lord. When people pray it not only impacts others, it changes those praying.
- Be a solution, not a problem. It’s easy to look at how the elders are leading and say they are doing a bad job. It’s also easy to be the problem. In 1 Thess 5:13 there is an interesting phrase that says, “Be at peace among yourselves.” This comes right after the exhortation to honor elders. In other words take care of your own problems so that the elders don’t have to keep putting out your fires.
- Don’t complain, help. It takes effort to make an assembly work. Many assemblies don’t have enough elders for the amount of shepherding needed so instead of criticizing what isn’t being done, jump in and help them carry the load. Each of us can be involved in ministering to the needs of others.
- Encourage them in their work. There is a lot of discouragement these days. Elders are not immune to the feelings of doubt and disappointment. I recently received a kind note and a gift card from an anonymous member of my assembly encouraging me in my work as an elder. I can’t describe how much that meant to me and it helped me to stay motivated and energized for the Lord.
- Respect their leadership. Your elders may be failing in their work and you may feel they are letting things slip but when you talk to them treat them with respect. Give them honor for the role they hold. They will give an account of their shepherding some day and that’s a big weight to carry. Watch your attitude and tone that it isn’t demeaning or negative.
- Communicate your feelings in a positive way. If there are things at your assembly that you feel need to be addressed then by all mean speak to the elders. In fact I encourage you speak to them. Many people bottle up negative thoughts towards elders and that is a dangerous thing. When you do speak to them watch how you say what you need to say. Being positive will not only help to keep the situation from getting out of control but also to motivate the elders to consider the situation and act on it.
- Love your elders. I don’t mean to simply be civil or courteous with them but to genuinely love them. They are brothers in Christ first and they are to beloved. Consider ways you can love your elders by serving them. The Lord showed the greatest example of love when he sacrificed himself for you. In turn love the elders as you would love yourself. It is amazing what that can do to transform your assembly.
There are many other ways you can support the elders in your assembly. I know it isn’t always easy. Some who are called elders do not have the true shepherd heart and it can be difficult to follow when they are not leading. These suggestions will help you in your own life to see them in a different light and to help grow the assembly.