“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:1-4)
Peter, in the passage above, tells us that the role of an elder is to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you” In v.2 Peter uses an action verb to describe this role entrusted to the elders. His focus is not on the role or the position as elder, but rather on the action of shepherding the flock. This is the case throughout the rest of the New Testament.
John 21:16 - “He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
Acts 20:28 - “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
Shepherding the flock well involves knowing the sheep in order to determine when and how to act. Considering the number of sheep in our congregation, this can seem overwhelming. If I am being honest, when I think about the task, I feel completely inadequate to serve as an elder. But I trust that as the Holy Spirit appoints us as elders, He will equip us to serve His church and serve it well in the days to come.
Faith family, we live in a fallen world, and at some point most of us will experience suffering in our lives. As we have recently seen modeled in Acts, God knew that we would need one another as the body of Christ to encourage each other to live out the gospel, no matter our circumstances. He did not intend for believers to go through life without community.
If you are in the midst of a struggle that seems too difficult to bear, then know that it is. You cannot bear it alone. Share your struggle with the body of Christ. If you are not in a small group, then find an elder. Allow the body of Christ to come alongside you and help you lean into Christ as you endure this difficult season.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
Lastly, please pray for the elder council as a whole that we would glorify God as we lead under the authority of Christ, as we care for the body of Christ, as we teach the Word of Christ and as we model the character of Christ.
Josh Dowis and his wife, Jennifer, have been members of Brook Hills since 2012. They have four children: Abigail (7), Kayleigh (5), Bo (2) and Graham (1).