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 Cor. 11:28 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:
1. The Lord has told you to do it. You are not doing this work because you have volunteered or have been man-appointed. God set His finger on you and delegated this task to you. “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” (Acts 20:28a)
2. The Lord has compelled you to do it. The apostle Paul was compelled by Christ’s love to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16). We don’t need the scripture to prove this is also true for elders. It would seem intuitively obvious to one doing the work that a major factor in keeping going is the compelling nature of Christ’s love. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14). There is something about knowing the love of Christ for ourselves that compels us to love the people God has saved. Elders are simply Christians who carry a greater sense of duty to fulfill this.
3. You have been motivated by those who have gone before you, both by their lives as well as by their challenge. “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed…”(1 Peter 5:1).
4. Being an elder puts you in good company. When Peter tells you to shepherd the flock of God that is under your care, in his next breath he speaks of the Chief Shepherd. You are apprentices to the One who infinitely and intimately cares for His people and who has entrusted to us these same people for similar care. “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care … and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:2, 4).
5. Being an elder is the ultimate emulation of the Great Shepherd. “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).
6. The people of God are precious to you, because they are blood-bought precious to the Savior. “Be on guard … to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
7. The Lord has given you the desire. The desire to be an elder is not necessarily presumptuous, for Paul makes it clear, that, “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1). Secondly, if the desire is there and has a godly focus, then it is God-given. “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4).
8. You care about the Lord’s people. This comes from not just imitating Christ, but having the heart of Christ. “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
9. You simply love the people of God. Sometimes you can’t explain it, you just love them. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died” (2 Cor. 5:14 NIV).
10. You just will not stop at anything until you see spiritual maturity. Like Paul, you are driven to accept struggle and difficulties when needed in order to see spiritual growth in the people you shepherd. “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you . . .” (Gal. 4:19).
11. You desire to do that which is a noble work (variously translated as honorable, fine or good). “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1). Few things in Scripture are so described. It is good and right to want that which is noble (Phil. 4:8).
12. The Great Shepherd will reward you. The crown of glory will be the glory of Christ Himself. The Lord will share with us that unique glory related to His being the Chief Shepherd, and it will last forever. “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).