HOW ELDERS RELATE TO JESUS
Elders are under-shepherds
Everything in Christ's body relates to Him – it is, after all, HIS body. At no point can the body, or any individual member of it, become spiritually productive independently of Jesus Christ. When there is an experiential distance between Jesus and the individual, that person is also far from doing any work for the Lord. It is "from Him" – Jesus – that effective ministry proceeds. " . . . the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow" (Colossians 2:19). Apart from vital union with the Head, individual leaders are impotent to bring eternal advantage to the members of Christ's body. Once perceived, this has a revolutionary impact on our approach to the eldership.
"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away"
– 1 Peter 5:4 –
Peter was not only an Apostle, by his own confession he was also an elder. He referred to the "Shepherd and Bishop of our souls" (1 Pet. 2:25; 5:4). He is the ultimate Shepherd of the church, and is thus called "the good Shepherd" (John 10:11,14). Because of His effectiveness, He is also referred to as "that great Shepherd of the sheep" (Heb 13:20). All effectual shepherding is accomplished in association with Christ. There must be no conflict between the activities and aspirations of the under-shepherds and the Chief Shepherd.
I fear for some of our churches. Their agenda appears to differ radically from that of our Savior. But, there is no need for this condition to exist. The will of God is ever "good, pleasing, and perfect" NIV (Rom. 12:2), and may be sought with expectancy.
"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."
– Hebrews 13:17 –
They will give an account to Christ
Giving an account to Jesus can be a blessing or a curse. For those who have faithfully discharged their stewardship, it will be a time of honor from God (John 12:26). For those who have not been faithful, it will be a time of exposure and ultimate condemnation. This is serious business, and God will play games with no person. Those who contend for a political office in the eldership never consider their accountability to God. However, they will be held accountable for their decisions, their teaching, and their reaction to the experiences of the flock.