/ elders / Joel Hart

Lessons from My Elders in Tumultuous Days

I love my elders. In some ways, that's it. That's the whole post. God has blessed me to serve alongside ten faithful elders here in Indianapolis.

Below are some anecdotes of lessons I’m learning from my elders. These anecdotes are my expression of gratitude. They are my personal commitment to learn the lessons I’m being taught. They are my hope that you too learn from them what they are teaching me. They are my challenge to all the church to pray and thank God for all the faithful elders in the church of Christ.

So, without further ado:

Many of you reading this also read from my fellow elder/pastor, James Faris. His post on face masks really cut to the heart of where I was. I’m masking more these days and contemplating how God is humbling me more and more.

Another elder has anchored our church’s daily Zoom prayer meetings. I may be wrong, but I don’t think he has missed one since they began. “The prayer of a righteous man has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). In fact, I’ve seen a few of his prayers for me answered in recent weeks!

May I learn the value of consistent prayer.

Another elder reminded me this past Lord’s Day of the need to accept when the Lord brings suffering in our lives. He prayed about the need to accept suffering (like our current circumstance) and not brush it aside as though it were not there. How much this is my temptation – to pretend a problem is not there as opposed to enter the experience of suffering well.

May I learn more to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:3).

Another elder has led our session into a book study on shepherding people in hard situations. I was blessed last week as he led our session in discussing chapter 1 of our book. Very often, I'm the one leading Bible studies, book discussions, etc. It was wonderful to get an education from this elder on leadership style, asking questions, drawing out hearts, and so forth.

May I learn to better teach and listen as this elder has shown me.

Another elder has been sharing with me good questions to ask people during the pandemic. One question he gave me: “What are you most thankful for (or sad for) in your personal, work, and family life within the past 3 months?” I’ve learned questions like that drive to people’s heart needs in a way debating the latest COVID news does not.

May I grow in my insight into people’s true heart needs.

Another elder gave me a profound insight into shepherding, even from a distance. A shepherding question came up about an individual in our congregation. I raced to try to address the question. Upon learning this individual was assigned to my elder’s shepherding group, I gave him a call to let him know about the question. What a joy when I heard this elder say, “I’ve been calling this person every week just to check up on them.” He knew the condition of his sheep far better than I did – and he did it with love and with almost no fanfare.

May I learn to love my sheep in quiet and faithful ways.

Another elder who works in the medical field has given our session profound wisdom as we’ve faced hard decisions. I particularly appreciate how he drives all the discussions through the lens of medical understanding, all while emphasizing the kingship of Christ and His glory.

As I hear him engage, I’m left wanting to understand our world more and understand more that Christ rules it all and we can trust Him.

Another elder has led us in our digital and live stream ministry. Those viewing worship from a distance are deeply grateful. But I’m most grateful for the humility of heart and patience he shows. When worship service plans change at the last minute, eyes turn to him to figure it out. When things go wrong technologically (and they rarely do under his watch), all eyes turn to him again – and perhaps even give a critical glance.

So many would get flustered or defensive in times like this. But this elder models humility, patience, love, joy, and wisdom. It’s a model of Christian maturity we desperately need in these tumultuous days.

Still another elder has pursued his tasks with the utmost commitment to faithfulness and excellence. He is a committee-chair-extraordinaire. While many in society struggle with laziness or disinterest in these days, this elder models faithfulness to us all. He is an Isaiah 32:8 elder: “He who is noble plans noble things and on noble things he stands.”

May I pursue this nobility in all my life.

Another elder has blessed me with profound insight into the greatness of Christ. A few in the church have been doing a Zoom book-discussion. One of our discussions moved toward the question of how to impress upon others (and ourselves) the value of the church and of Christ. This elder gave a wholehearted plea to remember Christ’s incomparable greatness. He closed with something along these lines, “Even if you lead a business that came to the value of 1 trillion dollars, you would not have 1% of the greatness of knowing Jesus Christ!”

Amen. May I see Christ so clearly.

I love my elders.

Joel Hart

Joel Hart

Pastor at Columbus (IN) RP Church. Husband of Orlena. Father of 5 (David, Jenny, Elisha, Esther, Seth). Proclaiming the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

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