Elder Plea

This picture is an illusion. There’s actually six of us…broken men who seek the Lord and plead for our people.

The idea of elders isn’t popular right now — a plurality of male-only elders in an egalitarian, authority-averse culture hell-bent on radical individualism and autonomy.

But this group of men bleeds out for the people of our local church, and I’m honored to bleed with them.

Ray Ortlund once said, “As our whole world falls apart, may we Christian pastors be men of such obvious grace that many thousands can see us as beacons of hope in the gathering darkness, and come, and find strength.” I couldn’t agree more.

The world needs gentle, masculine authority that will bleed out for people. An army of men, equipped with a Gospel-centrality that becomes a breath of fresh air in every situation, every time they encounter or pursue their people, in every place. What if our churches were filled with these men, full of grace and truth, who gave their lives to shepherding the sheep of their pasture?

To counter the abuse, the distrust, the confusion, the outrage and anxiety, these men would need to be filled with the Spirit, gentle, patient, difficult to offend, dependent in prayer; men with soft eyes and a quiet tone; men who bathe in the Scriptures, who will suffer for their people. 

Men who will say, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Cor. 12:15a). If we love them more, will they love us less (v15b)? Yes. Sometimes. And the six elders of my church sign up for it. 

We pray this liturgy (written by our very own Seth Burt) before every meeting. We call it our Elder Plea: 

Lord, we desire a noble task: 
to shepherd a people that you have predestined, 
you have called, you have justified, 
and you have glorified.

Yet, Lord, we come from dust, 
we lack wisdom, 
we are broken and prone to sin against each other 
and the people you have called us to lead. 

We struggle for control, 
we seek fame, 
and we long for comfort.

So, by the blood of Jesus, 
we humble ourselves under your mighty hand, 
pleading with you to guide your bride through broken servants. 

Grant us humility, 
teach us the fear of the Lord, 
give us strength, 
and secure in us a unity that can only come from a triune God.

Holy Spirit,
we invite you to lead our thoughts, 
our desires, 
our words, 
and our decisions in this meeting.