Summary: I hope you will be patient and receptive as I describe to you my greatest need. “To be encouraged.”
One night, during Bible study, Bill Sayre interjected that people have needs and that when we, as a congregation meet those needs, it causes lasting relations to form, especially during times of grieving. Later in jest, he added, "Even ministers have needs." At that, we responded with a humorous chuckle.
But the point that those who lead in the church have needs, is well taken, obviously elders have needs as well. They are expected to give support, to guide, to decide, to pray, to encourage, to serve, to be responsible, but never, absolutely never... to need encouragement?!?! But you are aware, I’m sure, that elders, pastors, teachers and all other leaders in the church fall prey to exasperation and burnout.
I have seen and heard of ministers and elders who have become physically ill because of their concern over members of the congregation and the well-being of their flock, or falling prey to spiritual problems and eventually falling away. I will only say that the responsibility is deeply felt.
So this morning I hope you will be patient and receptive as I describe to you my greatest need. “To be encouraged.” In doing so, I will be representing Kirk and any other leader or elder that may become part of this church. I am not only going to ask you to encourage me, I am going to tell you how to best encourage me in accordance with scripture found in Hebrews 10:19-25 and Hebrews 13:17-18.
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.
This latter scripture I mentioned, is at best an advice given to Christians, to prevent them from causing their leaders to serve in grief. The main cause of that grief? An unwillingness to submit.
Submission, mind you, does not mean turning one’s mind over to someone else. In submission there is room for discussion, room for different tastes, room for improvement and room to grow. Actually submission is more of an acknowledgment that your leaders are responsible for you and watching over your souls. Therefore, it is wise to heed their direction, for your benefit as well as that of the whole church.
God is very clear in His commands to leaders not to act as dictators, but to guide through example, in love, with joy. But the point of the message this morning is not to address the requirements of a leader. It is to point out that in order for your leaders to be healthy and grow, and consequently for the congregation to grow as well, not only do they need your submission, but your encouragement as well. For us to serve while full of grief will not profit anyone here, much less lost souls. I remember a time when I served while grieving due to circumstances in the church, and maybe some of you may recall those times in the past.