If I had to condense God’s call to one word it would be “unexpected”. Although it began the same as other elder candidates, names on a list, attending the Discovering Eldership class, etc, it did not progress the way I imagined. Throughout the Discovering Eldership class, I alternated between feelings of assurance and fears of inadequacies, seemingly more eager to discover my expectation of “clarity” than God’s call. In a way, it seemed that the call became somewhat lost in my effort to discover the call!
There were many questions that surfaced over that time, but the one that seemed insurmountable was, “Am I seeking God in this process or only seeking the right decision?” Although I didn’t understand it at the time, God was providing a precious lesson of how to better trust Him.
Biblically, refusing to follow God’s call solely based upon a personal fear of failure is sin (Numbers 14:1-12). The same can be said for acting presumptuously and rushing ahead of God. We see this in both the presumptuous act of Abram and Sarai in Genesis 16:1-4 and the wicked and slothful servant in Matthew 25:24-26. Who has the greater sin? If my desire to always be right is the greatest of all my desires, and if being wrong is the strongest of all my fears, has self-righteousness functionally overtaken Christ’s righteousness? Was being right at all costs, or fearfully never risking, preventing me from following God?
AW Tozer summed this up well, “It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” As I served on the Transition Team this past year, the why came into view as my heart’s motivation was exposed. Killing the sin of living in my own strength rather than faith (Galatians 5-6), and assassinating the desire to perform the rule of the law while ignoring the heart of a fruit bearer (Matthew 3), displays the heart of a righteous leader. I needed to learn that before the calling to eldership came. This is who I want to be and, by God’s grace, the person I see myself becoming.
I cannot promise to be a perfect leader, but I can pledge to make every effort to follow well. Following Jesus well means to guard against my own heart, as I help you do the same with yours. It means to hunger for His word, seeking out and fulfilling His will as He calls us out for the sake of His glory, first in the Hudson/Ash neighborhood, then in Arizona, and finally in all the world. It means tenderly, compassionately, humbly holding one other accountable to live lives worthy of our King while ministering to one another’s wounds as we limp along, arm in arm, further in His kingdom. It means making disciples who make disciples as we glorify God through lives changed by the gospel of Christ.
I love you and I want to be obedient to God’s call. If you’ll have me as your elder, I will seek to serve our heavenly Father as He teaches me the ‘why and how’ of loving you as He loves you.