Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Not all elders are Elders (but, a wise pastor still listens carefully to them)

My old friend, Hill, left this earth a couple of weeks ago. I will miss him a lot. 

Hill became my friend as an older man. I was privileged to sing him a silly song I wrote when he turned 85 and I was honoured to pray with him in the hospital when he was 90 and preparing for glory.

He was saved a little later in life, even though that life had been spent almost entirely in the church. A keen observer of people, he was always more aware than he let on of what was going on around him.  After I had known him a few years, I began to seek his opinion on lots of things. He had a good eye for future pastors in our church and sharp radar for the snakes. He had a sense of church life and could tell when things were growing stagnant or spiritually dull. His powers of deduction were not perfect, but they were helpful to me on more than a few occasions.

I have been thinking a lot about him and his influence on me over the last few days. Hill taught me that unique place that older saints can hold in a church. At 90 years old, he had been around the block a few times. And each time he picked up another lesson, another observation or another skill. A Christian that faithfully reads His Bible, prays for his church, attends that church and serves in her is getting an education in ecclesiastical affairs. A young pastor ought to pray that God fills up his church with some of these wise and watchful saints for they will help him to steer the ship more steadily. 

Hill was past the years of effectively serving as an Elder in the church - that is, bearing the office of Elder/Pastor/Shepherd/Bishop/Overseer/Steward. And some of his doctrinal convictions would have made him serving at this church a little difficult - he did love some odd duck TV preachers! But, his faithfulness to God over many years made him one of our sages. He was a man who helped this church from behind the scenes. He was like one of the elders of long ago who sat at the city gate and could be appealed to for practical wisdom and good advice.

All this to say, if your ministry goal as a pastor is to funnel old people to the fringes so they don’t "get in the way of what God is doing…" well, you ought to re-think that. 

“You shall stand up before the grey head and honour the face of an old man, 
and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD."

(Leviticus 19:32 ESV)

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