Do You Aspire to the Office of Overseer?
As most of you know, we presently have three men who are serving as elders at WestHill Church. We would like to see God add to our team. The following article is a call to see if the Lord will provide more elders for His church. As we seek God’s provision, we want to ask you to pray with us and consider this matter.
We want any prospective future leaders to know a little about what they’re getting into. Let me give my perspective on what to expect if you become an elder.
2020 was a strange year. It was a very unusual time to oversee a church. It was the first year we had to cancel congregational worship for several Sundays in a row. It was the first year when we had to consider the possibility that our governing authorities might ask us not to do something God commands us to do. At one point, we actually had to decide if propane heaters were a) a great idea that could keep us worshipping outside in the cold months or b) a horrible idea that could burn down our canopies. These were all weighty matters that the Lord graciously gave us sufficient wisdom to answer. Praise God, no tents have burned down!
This next year, the list of topics, changes, and considerations for our elder board will likely also be long and strange. But that's ok because, despite all these obstacles and decisions, I know we will end up closer to God and each other because we all possess the Holy Spirit, we are accountable to each other, and we genuinely love each other. He will protect us and guide us.
Being an elder isn't just about making decisions. It tests a person's character. Here are some of the difficult balancing acts an elder must perform: can you be an example to others but not be proud of it? Can you be logical but then be humble when your logic sounds foolish to others? Can you be above reproach but be quick to genuinely ask for forgiveness?
Another aspect of being an elder is having teaching ability. You don't have to be a preacher. But can you communicate the truths of the Bible in a way that helps others understand them? This is crucial.
Above all this, perhaps the most crucial part of church oversight is not strong speech, but strong character that arises from a close walk with God. Look how often character is referenced in the list of qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:
“This saying is trustworthy: ‘If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.’ An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy. He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and incur the same condemnation as the devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap.”
Not every Christian man is called to be an elder. Some are called to serve the church in equally important but different ways, according to their unique spiritual gifting.
What are some valid motivations to serve as an elder?
I think many serve because they want to do more for the church. They also determine that their desire to help Christians grow is greater than their concern about how hard that can be. They decide that their love for Christ is greater than their fear of being rejected. Their desire for God’s word to be known is greater than their fear of being misunderstood. And their debt of gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice exceeds the sacrifice that eldership demands of them.
If you want to help guard Christ’s church and you can give a humble affirmation to God’s list of qualifications, feel free to email one of the elders and tell us about your aspiration to serve in this way: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you know someone who you think should be an elder, we encourage you not to email us, but to go to that person and suggest the possibility to them. Sometimes we must see ourselves through the eyes of another before we see ourselves clearly.
Let me say, in conclusion, that I don't regret a day of serving this church. I love WestHill Church. I know God is at work in our midst. Because of that, working as an elder has been the fourth greatest honor of my life (next to being a Christian, a husband, and a dad). It has sanctified my sinful heart in many ways.
If you're sitting on the fence, don't be scared, God will help you as you give yourself for His service.