As we are studying the eldership on Sunday mornings in the auditorium class, here is a
question which was submitted regarding some of the important issues involved:
Question: What duties do members of the church have toward the elders?
Answer: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them: for they watch in behalf
of your souls, as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief:
for this were unprofitable for you,” (Heb. 13:17). Serving as an elder in the Lord’s church is of
the most sober and serious nature. I have long believed that the man who serves lightheartedly
as an elder, sleeping peacefully and soundly every night, doesn’t have a clue what he is doing. He
has probably been in way over his head for sometime, but doesn’t know it. “Eldering” is serious
Yet, it should also be “with joy.” It should not be a drudgery or a distasteful task. The
shepherd of God’s people is involved in the highest work here on earth, and is privileged beyond
measure. He certainly has the attention of God, and is blessed to be involved with matters of the
most sublime interest and importance. Leading the church of Christ involves spending time
considering the growth of the kingdom, edification of the saints, teaching the lost, and the feeding
of God’s flock. This should indeed be a joyful experience.
What can members do to make sure that the elders are discharging their duties with joy, rather
than with grief? One of the most important things is to pray regularly for them. It is difficult to
harbor ill will toward someone for whom we are regularly praying. And if I am praying for the
elders, I will naturally be more mindful of their activities and spiritual progress. I will be more
interested in how they are doing, and whether they are feeling good about their work.
I can also strive to be an encouragement to them. Words of encouragement, cards and notes,
expressions of interest and concern, all tend to boost their spirits and let them know we are
supporting them. We are behind them, on the same side and supportive of their efforts. We
understand that they are spending countless hours in planning and leading the work of the church,
and that they have heartaches and concerns for the church. They may have had a rough night’s
sleep last night over things about which I am unaware.
Members should approach the elders freely, and discuss important decisions and spiritual
concerns with them openly and often. Let them know how you are feeling, about the good times
as well as the bad, and share with them the mileposts of your spiritual journey. Let them know
how the planned work of the church is benefiting you, and feel free to make suggestions for
Obviously, we must obey the elders. If there is strife and dissension in the flock, may it never
be because of us. May we be a source of encouragement, not a source of problems or concerns.
Do not see how close to the edge we can get, how far we can “extend the leash” or wander away
from the flock. Stay close to the shepherds and stay close to the Chief Shepherd. “Obey them
that have the rule over you.”
Yes, serving as an elder is very serious. But it is also a matter of extreme joy and gratification.
It is one of the most influential of lives, one of the fullest with opportunities to make a
difference. It is a life toward which we should be encouraging our young men to aspire and
grow. And how effectively it is done depends in large part on us, the church.
– by Robert C. Veil, Jr.