Beginning Sunday we are going to spend four weeks considering the office and role of Elder & Deacon. Lord willing we will appoint two men to eldership and two to the diaconate on the last Sunday of March during a congregational meeting.
As I have been preparing for these sermons and especially considering eldership I was reminded of a helpful & hopeful (though not well known) hymn by John Newton, The Minister’s Burden.
A Minister’s Burden
What contradictions meet
In ministers’ employ!
It is a bitter sweet,
A sorrow full of joy:
No other post affords a place
For equal honor or disgrace.
Who can describe the pain
Which faithful preachers feel,
Constrained to speak in vain,
To hearts as hard as steel?
Or who can tell the pleasures felt,
When stubborn hearts begin to melt?
The Savior’s dying love,
The soul’s amazing worth,
Their utmost efforts move,
And draw their bowels forth;
They pray and strive, the rest departs,
Till Christ be formed in sinners’ hearts.
If some small hope appears,
They still are not content,
But with a jealous fear,
They watch for the event:
Too oft they find their hopes deceived.
Then how their inmost souls are grieved!
But when their pains succeed,
And from the tender blade
The ripening ears proceed,
Their toils are overpaid:
No harvest-joy can equal theirs,
To find the fruit of all their cares.
On what has now been sown,
Thy blessing, Lord, bestow;
The power is Thine alone,
To make it spring and grow:
Do Thou the gracious harvest raise,
And Thou alone shalt have the praise.
I’ve also remembered a short series I wrote about nine years ago on some of the qualifications of an elder from 1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1.
As one who has studied for vocational ministry and is privileged to serve full-time in this capacity (not a requirement for eldership), I have also been reminded of a convicting article written by B.B. Warfield, “The Religious Life of Theological Students“.
We certainly have much to consider as we endeavour to think Biblically regarding God’s design for leadership within His church.