“Mine!” was the first word spoken by a couple of our children. That exclamatory word confirmed I had successfully transfer red to them a sinful nature. Reminding someone that you are the owner of something is rarely a godly statement. Yet, the Scriptures tell me that certain things are indeed “mine”. “For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephasor the world or life or death or the present or the future-all are yours, and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.”
The Bible teaches that spiritual leaders are yours but you are not theirs.
Spiritual leaders are yours.
Did you know that? The spiritual leaders in your local church are yours. Listen to this:
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God.”-Hebrews 13:7a
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” -Hebrews 13:17
The reason you can accurately refer to them as yours is because they are spiritual gifts that have been given to you by the Spirit of God. “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers…”(Eph. 4:11) When you think of your spiritual leaders(pastors, elders or pastor/teachers,) do you imagine them as festively-wrapped gifts from God gifted to you for your benefit? Do you see them as something that is yours? Perhaps, you are thinking, “can I take them back for an exchange?”
This mind-set could lead to a complete attitude change for some. If your elders are viewed by you as valued possessions your esteem for them, your treatment of them, and your prayers about them will no doubt increase.
We tend to protect, and treasure our valued possessions. Would you be as critical of your elders as you have been if you believed them to by yours? Would you pray for your elders more faithfully if you believed them to be yours? Would you value their instructions for you more if you believed them to be yours? They are. They are completely yours!
You are not ours.
This is important to consider. While the pastors and elders are yours, you are not theirs. The church is not ourchurch. The church is not my church. The church is God’s church. (“To the church of God that is in Corinth….” –I Cor. 1:2). Spiritual leaders are not owners; they are stewards. Consider Acts 20: 28, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has mad you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
Here is the distinction. Spiritual leaders are yours, but you are not theirs. They are your servants, but you are not their masters. (II Corinthians 4:5) Your spiritual leaders don’t own you. They are stewards representing your Owner, Jesus Christ. Because you are not theirs they are not to “lord it over your faith.” In other words, spiritual leaders are not to spiritually abuse the sheep with harshness, legalism, and authoritarianism. At the same time, because the flock is not theirs they must be mindful that they will give account for caring for His flock as they await the Chief Shepherd to appear.
Do your spiritual leaders acknowledge that you are not theirs? Do they serve with humility awaiting the final accounting? Do they tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear? Are they careful to make sure that the teaching they teach you is what the Lord actually said?
Spiritual leaders are yours, but you are not theirs. The Chief Shepherd designed a spiritual synergy that should increase mutual joy.
“Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy…” (II Cor. 1:24)
“…Let them do this with joy not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Heb. 13:17b)
The pastors and the people should live together in such a way that they increase one another’s joy.
How can we do this?
What if we were to “renew” our vows to one another? Consider these sample elder vows:
TO THE ELDERS:
1. Do you reaffirm your faith in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit? I Do
2. Do you believe in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, totally trustworthy, fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the supreme, final, and only infallible rule of faith and practice? I Do
3. Do you sincerely believe, receive, and adopt the essential tenets of the faith as expressed in our EBBC Statement of Faith, as reliable exposition of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and will you be instructed and led by the Statement as you lead the people of God at EBBC? I Do
4. Do you promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any part of the Statement of Faith, you will in your own initiative make known to your fellow elders the change which has taken place in your views since your assumption of this vow? I Do
5. Do you subscribe to the government and discipline of EBBC? I Do
6. Will you fulfill your office in obedience to Jesus Christ, being continually guided by the Holy Spirit under the authority of Scripture? I Do
7. Do you promise to be mutually submissive to your fellow elders in the Lord and will you love your colleagues in ministry, your fellow pastors and staff members-working with them, subject to the ordering of God’s Word and Spirit? I Do
8. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to accept the office of elder from love of God and sincere desire to promote His glory in the gospel of His Son? I Do
9. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in promoting the truths of the gospel and the purity and peace of the church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise against you on that account? I Do
10. Will you be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as an elder whether personal or relative, private or public, and will you endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the gospel in your manner of life, and to walk with exemplary piety before this congregation? I will, by the grace of God.
11. Are you now willing to take personal responsibility in the life of this congregation as elders to oversee the ministry and resources of the church, and to devote yourself to prayer, the ministry of the Word, and the shepherding of God’s flock, relying upon the grace of God, in such a way that EBBC and the entire Church of Jesus Christ will be blessed? I am, with the help of God.
TO THE CONGREGATION
1. Do you, the members of EBBC, acknowledge and publicly receive your elders as gifts of God to this church to lead us in the way of Jesus Christ? We Do.
2. Will you love them and pray for them in their ministry, and work together with them humbly and cheerfully , that by the grace of God you may accomplish the mission of the church, giving them all due honor and support in their leadership to which the Lord has called them, to the glory an honor of God? We will.
Yours, but not Ours!
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