God has high qualifications for elders. Yet, elders are not unapproachable, spiritual giants. They are regular men who have been called by God to bear heavy spiritual burdens – and they do it for our sake. It is to everyone’s benefit that the elders faithfully carry out the task that God has given them. Consider the following ways that you can help encourage your elders to carry out the task that God has given to them.
1. Pray for them Regularly
The Apostle Paul regularly asked the churches to pray for him. If a leader of his calibre was in need of prayer, how much the more do you think your elders need you to pray?
If you would like an easy outline of how you can pray for your Pastor, consider both the responsibilities and qualifications mentioned in the Pastoral Epistles. Pray that God would enable your Pastor to faithfully carry out all that God has called him to and to remain qualified to do so.
2. Love their Families
Serving in a church is often a balancing act for the Pastor. Elders must manage their households well, love their wives and children and lead them spiritually while also striving to lead, love and manage the church. A faithful Pastor will never allow his family to suffer for the sake of the church. As church members, we can make sure that our Pastor never feels this way by purposefully loving and caring for his family.
A Pastor/elder should never feel as if he has to protect his family from the church.Why do you think the Pastor’s family can sometimes become the target of criticism or animosity? What can we do to prevent this?
3. Grow Personally
Your Pastor’s chief concern is care for your soul. Without fail, those who need the most attention (and sometimes cause the most grief) are those who are not growing spiritually. With growth comes independence and so, the growing church member does not need to rely upon his Pastor for everything. Instead, he feeds himself spiritually throughout the week by reading his Bible, listening to preaching and availing himself to the abundant resources for spiritual growth that are available to us today. It is a wonderful help and encouragement to your Pastor to see you taking spiritual initiative and growing in the faith.
4. Serve in the Ministry
The fourth chapter of Ephesians indicates that the pastor-teacher’s role is to help mature the saints so that they can do the work of the ministry (Eph 4:12). With genuine spiritual growth also comes the desire and ability to come alongside the elders and serve with them in the ministry. This helps to alleviate some of the burden that is upon their shoulders. The Apostle Paul was continually praising those whom he called “fellow labourers”.
5. Handle Disagreements Biblically
What happens if you disagree with your elders? Maybe you have a problem with the way something was taught or how a situation in the church was dealt with. So what do you do? Like all Biblical conflict, this should be dealt with first by approaching him with your concerns privately (see our study on Forgiveness for some guidelines on when to approach and when not to).
It is always unbiblical and sinful to undermine the reputation of others by spreading or entertaining the spread of gossip. The Bible addresses the case of Elders specifically in 1 Timothy 5:19: Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Because your elders teach and preach with authority, you may feel as if they are unapproachable or inaccessible. Nothing could be further from the truth. You should always feel free to express your concerns with your elders.
6. Forgive Patiently
It should come as no surprise to you that your elders are not perfect. At times they will make mistakes. Maybe in the way they teach, how they handle a situation or even how they react to you.
Part of being a church member is having a mutual love for one another. This love causes us to bear with one another patiently and to freely offer forgiveness. This should even extend to your elders. In other words, all the principles of forgiveness that we learned in a previous study apply to our relationship with our leaders.
7. Encourage Sincerely
We’ve learned throughout these studies that believers should be exercising Christ-like attitudes towards one another. This includes encouragement. Just like your other fellow-believers, your Pastor benefits from your encouragement. You can encourage your Pastor by sincerely expressing your thankfulness for him and his ministry.
If you have benefited from your Pastor’s teaching, example or ministry, let him know. This is not for the purpose of flattery or mere complimenting but for the purpose of encouraging his faithfulness in what God has called him to do.