Elder, Encourage Thyself!

Elder, Encourage Thyself

Encouragement is a commodity in short supply. While not alone in needing this, a leader of God’s people more than others can readily relate to David’s experience: “David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Sam 30:6 NASB). Hopefully, this is not the elder’s usual experience, but there are times when the task seems overly daunting.

The word translated “strengthen” in the NASB, is rendered in the KJV as “David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” The underlying Hebrew word carries both connotations—“to encourage by adding courage or strength.” The great leader and motivator of God’s people, David, had his down times! In the context of our passage, his followers were embittered by the ransacking of their camp by the Amalekites and were ready to stone him! When bad stuff happens, blame the leader. Can you relate, elder?

When I think of discouragement (speaking from experience) I think of that state of being where enthusiasm for stepping into the future is nullified by present perceptions of opposition, failure, uselessness or ineffectiveness. This is often accompanied by a loss of hope for being a choice (or at least an acceptable) vessel of service for the Lord. So the question is pertinent, how does an elder encourage himself? Here are some helpful ways.

Look to God’s word

Scripture contains stories of Godly leaders, many of whom struggled with discouragement. We learn two things from reading about them: 1) we discover we are not unique in our struggles and 2) we can learn from how they dealt with emotionally debilitating  circumstances. The book of Hebrews includes chapter 11, the “Hall of Faith” as some have termed it. These were godly men who endured many adverse situations and did not give up. Meditating on passages like this has a cathartic effect for the discouraged leader.

Review past working of God in your life

God often told Israel to look back at past rescues from oppression and failure. The Passover, for example, continually reminded them that God saves His people from hardship when they follow Him. Piles of rocks set up as monuments were constructed to remind future generations of great activities of God. So, as those who struggle to serve the Lord and lead His people, we do well to remember the many times when our God worked in our past situations.

Some make use of a journal that they can readily review. I personally like to keep what I call “an encouragement file.”  This contains letters of appreciating, thanks or otherwise reminders of how God has used me in someone’s life. Such things are not kept for gregarious shows, as being framed and displayed for all to see. Rather they are simply private reminders of God’s faithfulness in using me in some small ways. They are simply reminders, like putting a stone monument by the river’s edge.

Sometimes, my wife and I will purposely reminisce. When she is discouraged I will remember for her by bringing up past victories in her ministry. And she does the same for me. Photo albums are helpful in this remembering, and can be a means of encouragement when the need arises. 

Share your discouragements

Find a trusted friend or accountability partner with whom you can share your discouragements and disappointments. I am thinking here of someone who is a good listener and not too quick to provide a solution. This can be difficult for men because we seem programmed to always see problems as things to be solved.  Discouragement is not always resolved like that. We often know the Scriptures that apply. What we need often is not a lecture but encouragement, someone who can come along side and add “courage” or “strength.”

However, this means becoming vulnerable on two fronts: 1) we must humble ourselves by admitting when we are discourage, which can expose us to the possible misguided condescension of other leaders, and 2) we need to accept the encouragement God brings through others, knowing that there will be a time when we may be called upon to encourage that other person. We need to develop the ability to trust and to be vulnerable with each other.

Talk to yourself

In the duplex of Psalms 42 & 43, David three times asks himself, “Why are you in despair, O my soul. And why have you become disturbed within me?” He wrestles through his thoughts and emotions, and each time he responds with a firm rebuke, “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him. The help of my countenance and my God.”  Sometimes we need to not only listen our thoughts and feelings, but we need to then rebuke ourselves with the right way to think. We need to choose to put our thoughts back on God and the hope He promises. 

Encourage others

One of the best ways for dealing with discouragement is to actively, willfully go out of our way to encourage others (1 Thess 5:11). In the end, discouragement results from the introspective activity of focusing on our ourselves too much. The best cure is to focus on others (Phil 2:4). 

Pray

I have not mentioned prayer until now because most Christians know its importance and probably do it instinctively. My sense is that most of us probably feel that to seek encouragement in any other way than prayer may be a sign of spiritual immaturity. If we have the Lord, why should we need these other things? My response, in all honesty, is that these “other things” are frequently the answers to prayer as I lay out my struggle before the Lord. If I believe He will answer my prayer, then I should set my heart on looking expectantly for His help in whatever way He provides.

Be Authentic

Finally, discouragement is not a sign of spiritual immaturity, unless we are prepared to describe David in those terms. Actually, presenting ourselves as never needing encouragement means we want others to see us as self-sufficient and not needing the help of other believers. At best we are being inauthentic, at worst deceptive. We all struggle with discouragement at times. Maybe, just maybe, sharing our struggles may be the very thing that helps someone else live an authentic life!

Often, no one will encourage you. Like David you must learn to encourage yourself, to strengthen yourself.  So I conclude, “Elder, encourage thyself!” You are the Lord’s Servant, you are called to be faithful. Do not sin by refusing to believe His word: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Keep looking up. Keep looking outward not inward. God still has a work for you to do, by His mercy. Keep doing it, by His grace.

Chuck Gianotti

Tell Me Again, Why Am I An Elder?

Being an elder is one of the greatest ministries a Christian man can possibly have. But if you have been an elder for any length of time, you can probably relate to the Apostle Paul, who after recounting the litany of struggles encountered in his service for the Lord, admitted that, “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians11:28 NASB). In light of the “pressures” you shoulder as an elder, it is a good thing to remember just why you stick with it, why you continue on. Here are twelve reasons, to name just a few …

To continue reading, click here.

Character Download Correction

Some people have not be able to download the free BER resource (“Spiritual Maturity: Based on Elder Qualifications”) because of their location.  If you are one of those people, then try again, the problem has been fixed. We are extending the 100% discount window for an extra day.

Get your free download now, November 9-12, 2016. While you are at it, check out our BER store for other great resources.

Character Matters – Free Download

With the US presidential election now over, one question rises to the surface – does character matter in a leader? When Jesus instructed that we should render to Caesar what is Caesar’s (Matt 22:21) does that mean in secular politics we should fight our political battles purely by secular means? Or to put it another ways, do we embrace, albeit reluctantly, the adage “the end justifies the means” even if it requires suspending the importance of personal character?

In the spiritual realm, no question about it, character occupies a central place in leadership, especially in the church. To encourage character growth in your church, BER for a limited time only is offering a FREE download of our popular book “Spiritual Maturity: Based on the Qualifications for Elders.” We go through the 31 character qualifications for elders, explaining how each is necessary for leading God’s people. When exemplified in elders, this character description provides a model for spiritual maturity for all believers. This study can be used individually, in elders meetings or in men’s or women’s groups. Anyone wishing to grow their spiritual character will find the resource invaluable.

Now more than ever, we need leaders of the consummate caliber of Christian character.

Get your free download now, November 9-11, 2016. While you are at it, check out our BER store for other great resources.

Did You Know?

Great BER resources

This blog’s highlight is on the many of the practical aspects of caring for the people of God. We have teaching on:

  • Toward a Shepherd’s Heart
  • Hospitality
  • Sharing the Shepherding Load
  • Routine Shepherding
  • Acute Shepherding
  • Church discipline
  • Counseling
  • Baptism
  • Funerals and Dying
  • Pre-marriage and Weddings
  • Same-sex Attraction

Check them out here.


BER Conference

There still time to sign up to audit or attend the BER Simulcast Conference: “Making Plurality Work.” For more details, click here. We have 14 sites to choose from – check out the list for one near you.

 

BER Update

Did you know that the BER website has an FAQ page?

That means Frequently Asked Questions page. Here we answer questions like “Must an elder be married and have children?” or “Is there a correct way to address an elder who is no longer effective?” We answer common questions about the website itself as well, like “Can I make copies of the BER materials and pass them around?” or “Who can I contact about this site or about eldership?”  Check them all out here.


Note, we have all varieties of users of this site …

Some can quickly pick up on how to get around while others have very little experience on the internet. So we have tried to provide plenty of links to the different areas. For example, in the paragraph above, there are three links that you can click on and they all take you to the same FAQ webpage on our site, even though the wording is different in the link. We didn’t want anyone to miss this, even new comers to the internet. And don’t forget, new users can watch our helpful tutorials that will show you around the site.


Finally, remember the 2016 BER Simulcast conference …

It’s less than two months away (October 15). We have eight satellite sites already registered, so check for one near you.

If you are not near one, why not host one yourself? You can make it as big or small as you want. It’s not too late to register to host, but if you want to have a successful event don’t delay registering too long.

What is involved in hosting?

The simplest answer is just that all you need high speed internet access (what is usually called broadband). It’s best to have about 5Gb download speed, but you can get by with 1Gb–the same as for streaming a movie. But to make it an event and invite others to join you, you will want to register and become formally part of the event, complete with receiving promotional graphics, handouts, guidelines for food/snacks, and more–all helpful information that you would not otherwise get for just auditing the conference online. Click here fore more information.

For our international subscribers to this blog, you too can host a satellite site, thanks to the modern technology of Delayed Video Broadcast. And you can even set the time you want to begin watching, starting from the beginning. Click here to find out more about the conference and hosting a satellite site.

Special note #1: By the word “satellite” we do not mean we are using satellite technology, the kind in the sky. Rather we are referring to remote sites that will be receiving the video stream. They are the “satellite” sites. So there is no special equipment like satellite dishes, or subscriptions to fancy technology. All you need is high speed internet.

Special note #2: For those in countries or areas where you simply cannot get high speed internet service, we will be recording the entire conference and will make it available a few months in the future.  You will hear an announcement about this after the conference.  

Did You Know?

Did You know

… that BER has a series of lessons on How to Prepare a Sermon, from start to finish. We begin with an explanation of the biblical qualification, “apt to teach.” Then we cover developing a strategy, the call to study, exegesis, structure, and delivery.  We even show you how to develop a five year teaching plan, complete with a sample laid out for you. And this teaching is all in 15 minutes (or less) segments, so you can fit it into your busy schedule. Check it out here.


Did You Know

… about the BER Simulcast Conference coming up Saturday, Oct 15.

Why not host a satellite site, so you can participate along with others right there where you are? No long distance travel or expensive overnight accommodations. We have the plan, we have the structure, we provide the teaching (via live video feed) and we provide the graphics and participant handouts. You provide the place, the promotion for your area, the food and local organization. Easy! But the benefit to you and others will be significant!

This conference could affect the spiritual well-being of your church
by helping build up the shepherds and leaders of God’s people.

Check out the details here.

Now is not too early to begin planning.
It’s only 2-1/2 months away! Saturday, October 15, 2016

PS: The live site program stream will be available to all time zones through Video Delay Replay.
That means if you are on the other side of the world from the live site … 
you can join us via a planned streaming delay to suit your time zone!