Two Elders Oversee
Two Elders Oversee
by Bill Hall
Two men are appointed elders, but they vary greatly as they oversee the flock.
The first man is a mere spokesman for a small minority of the congregation. He has little contact with anybody beyond his family and closest friends. When he has heard them on some question he thinks he has heard all; their strong approval of any work is interpreted as a mandate from the whole congregation.
The second man is concerned for all the group. He cultivates friendship with all and values the thinking of the less vocal ones as highly as he does that of his closest friends. In fact, he frequently seeks the advice and thinking of those who are not so quick to speak. He extends hospitality to all who are a part of the church, but especially to those who might feel neglected or left out of things. He loves every member and finds some way to communicate his love and appreciation for each one.
The first man calls on the same few people for every task to be performed. When he visits the sick or shut-ins, he is always accompanied by these same ones. He is unaware of the spiritual development of those on the "fringe"; in fact, he hardly knows them. If he ever has to go to one of them with a problem, he goes as a stranger rather than as a friend or a brother.
The second man works for the spiritual development of every member. He is aware of young people who have potential and is helping them develop that potential for the Lord's use. He is constantly encouraging men to lead their first prayer or make their first talk. He encourages women who have been hesitant in the past to become involved in teaching, extending hospitality, or preparing a dish for a bereaved family. He knows that good leadership develops leadership in others, and is constantly looking out for those who might serve as elders in the future and lends them encouragement. The best word to describe this man is "awareness." He knows the people and they know him. Their problems are his problems; their sorrows, his sorrows; their joys, his joys. He is aware of their potential, their strengths, their weaknesses, their needs.
The first man can actually be a hindrance to the welfare of the church and a major frustration to the purposes and goals of the second man. Elders have the responsibility of mixing with the whole group and to act impartially. They must consider the needs of all rather than the selfish desires of the few. They must "watch for the souls" of all (Hebrews 13:17).
It is obvious that it is the second man in our article who pleases God as an elder. In fact, our article might best be entitled, "One Elder Oversees," for our first man does more "overlooking" than "overseeing"; more resting in the sheepfold than pastoring the flock. "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock ...” (Acts 20:28).