Elders Are Servants

The Tuesday feature of the Worldly Saints is all about reading. The post is meant to share some of my reflections from the latest book or magazine article or blog post I have or am reading. At times, I may post a book blurb (a wannabe book review) or recommend books to be read by others.

 

I am working through Alexander Strauch’s Biblical Eldership for the 3rd or 4th time, but this time I (along with 7 other men in my church) are using his study guide/workbook as a tool for our study as a group. If you are an elder or a deacon or an aspiring leader in your church, this is a must-read book for you.

The book unpacks the biblical role of eldering in the local church and deals with all the major passages of Scripture that describe how that role should function: Acts 11; 14; 20-21; Philippians 1; I Thessalonians 5; I Timothy 3-5; Titus 1; I Peter 5; Hebrews 13; James 5

Of special encouragement and exhortation to me have been the chapter on “Servant Leadership” (Ch. 5) and especially the section where he discusses Paul’s example as a servant.

This subject has been a timely one for me, as I have just finished preaching through I Corinthians 8-10 and couldn’t help but notice the humility and desire Paul had to set aside his preferences to serve others, either by edification or evangelism (I Cor 8:13; 9:12, 15-17, 19-23; 10:24, 27, 29, 32-33).

Biblical EldershipThe journey God took Paul on from being a Christian-hating and persecutor of the church to a loving and gentile servant of Christ is an exciting one (II Cor 10:1). He made this cruel, ruthless leader into a servant of Himself.

When Paul became a child of God, he wasn’t transformed into a self-promoter. Paul wasn’t interested in creating his own agenda or platform. In fact, he was even willing to give up his own eternity for the salvation of others (Rom 9:3).

Strauch summarizes Paul example when he wrote,

“The humble servant, Paul, was a strong, brave warrior and leader for Christ. He served God and cared for His people with all his might and zeal. During his life he faced many conflict, debates, and struggles. The man who could say that he ‘served the Lord with al lowliness of mind’ handed over an impenitent believer to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, struck the false teacher Elymus with blindness, rebuked Peter and Barnabas for their hypocrisy, and stood bravely before Roman courts and judges. Despite the many problems he confronted, Paul consistently responded to his brethren in humility and love. He knew that acting in pride would make things worse and divide God’s people. That is one reason why Paul’s letters, as well as those of Peter, John, and James, are supersaturated with commands concerning love, patience, kindness, prayer, forgiveness, gentleness, and compassion.” (pg. 95)

This is the pattern set by Paul for all Christians, and most certainly for elders in the church. Elders are not to be self-autocratic dictators but feet washers of their people (John 13). They direct; they don’t dictate.

I need these reminds daily … and I am guessing you do too.

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