Summary: so we've ordained and installed Elders and Deacons. What is this really all about? What are church leaders to do and to be?
“What’s This All About?”
So we have ordained and installed another group of Elders and Deacons. I truly believe it’s always a very special time in the life of the newly elected leaders and also in the congregation. But what’s this really all about? What should happen when the time of worship and celebration is over? What should the leaders do? What should the rest of the congregation do? The author of the letter to the Hebrews gives us some wonderful insight into godly leadership in this 13th chapter.
First, let’s address what he says about THE ROAD OF LEADERSHIP. How are godly leaders supposed to lead? To set the framework let’s acknowledge two extremes of leadership. To do so consider one of Aesop’s fables about frogs. “The frogs wanted a leader. They bothered Jupiter so much with their requests that he finally tossed them a log into the pond, and, for a while, the frogs were happy with their new leader. Soon, however, they found out they could jump up and down on their new leader and run all over him. He offered no resistance nor even a response. The log did not did not have any direction or purpose in his behavior, but just floated back and forth in the pond. This practice exasperated the frogs, who were really sincere about wanting ‘strong leadership.’ They went back to Jupiter and complained about their log-leader and appealed for much stronger administration and oversight. Because Jupiter was weary of complaining frogs, he gave them a stork that stood tall above the members of the group and certainly had the appearance of a leader. The frogs were quite happy with their new leader. He stalked around the pond making great noises and attracting great attention. Their joy turned to sorrow, however, and ultimately to panic, for, in a very short time, the stork began to eat its subordinates.” How do godly leaders strike a balance between listening to the people and giving them a voice and taking charge without a deadly dictatorial authority?
Hebrews 13 lists four characteristics of appropriate, balanced godly leadership. First, verse 7: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.” SPEAK THE WORD OF GOD. While Elders have the particular responsibility of overseeing what is preached from the pulpit, both Elders and Deacons need to live in the Word of God. God’s Word must inform and instruct your decisions and actions. That means, of course, you must read it, study it, and digest it. It is the only way to know and interpret the will of God for you and for Hope Church. To follow God’s direction one must walk with God. While you have authority by virtue of the office to which you’ve been Ordained and installed, your full authority comes only from the Word of God.
When you are living in the Word of God and walking in the way of God, you can speak and share the Word of God with you those you lead. In your visitation you can share godly comfort, in your outreach you can share godly invitations, in your conversations you can share godly wisdom, and in your decisions you can share godly direction. People do not want to know how much you know or how wise you are, but how much you know of God’s wisdom. People are much more willing to follow God than follow you – so they need to know you are walking with God.
Verse 7 continues: “Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” As leaders you must WALK THE WAY OF FAITH. Your lips and life must match up. What you speak you must live. Exhibit a faith worth imitating. The writer was referring first and foremost to saints who had passed away – many of whom did so as martyrs. He’s building on the heroes of the faith mentioned in chapter 11. Remember how their faith influenced their life, their loyalty, and their death. But the principle applies to living leaders as well.
As God’s duly appointed leaders you are held to, and must live by higher standards. People need to see that you are (Acts 6:3) “…full of the Spirit and wisdom.” Jesus said (Mk. 10:42-45), “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Later, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and then said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Remember that the word for deacon means minister or servant and pastor/elder means shepherd and one who serves.