In our worship services on Sunday, April 8, 2018, several new Ruling Elders and Deacons were Ordained and Installed at Park Cities Presbyterian Church. As a part of the worship service, Ruling Elder Eric Horan delivered the following charge to the congregation. It is being reprinted here as an Every Thought Captive devotional in order to help readers continue reflecting on how to encourage, pray for, honor, and benefit from the ministry of the leaders in their local church.
As we consider the vow we have just taken to receive these brothers as Ruling Elders and Deacons, how best can this body yield “honor, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord” to which their office entitles them?
I was struck by a recent story in one of our PCPC publications. Twenty years ago, a family in our church was facing a very serious health issue for their young son which ultimately required a heart transplant. Those who were in close fellowship with this family came around them with tremendous support. They cleaned and redecorated their house, provided meals, and stayed until the wee hours of the morning at the hospital praying with them. At one point, the husband and father was overwhelmed by the amount of care being given to them. He said he couldn’t accept the gift offered to his family; it was too much, he thought. Perhaps this is similar to the way many of us might respond. Yet some of the men met his refusal with a response that is fitting for us this morning. They said to him, “Please do not deny us the opportunity to serve.”
Brothers and sisters, that is my encouragement to you this morning. These men have taken sacred vows before the Lord affirming their calling as Ruling Elders and Deacons in our church. How can we best yield “honor, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord?” By not denying them the opportunity to serve. Whether it be walking alongside you in your marriage, praying with and for you, teaching and mentoring you, or offering counsel, do not withhold from these men the opportunity to minister to you.
What we have witnessed here this morning is patterned after the instructions for church governance and leadership given to us in the New Testament’s letters to the early church. In particular, Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul describes Jesus as having given shepherds and teachers for our discipleship, for the promotion of healthy congregational life, and for God’s glory to be displayed in the church. He has given these men as gifts that we might “grow up in every way into Him who is the head (Eph. 4:15),” namely, Jesus Christ. Consider also the exhortation given by the author of Hebrews where he calls on the people to, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account (Hebrews 13:17a).” These men will have to give an account for the spiritual condition of this body.
With this in mind, I ask you to do three things. First, find ways to encourage these men when the burden of their office seems particularly heavy. Second, avail yourselves of their care and counsel; give them opportunity to minister to you. And third, pray for them; pray that they might walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called. In so doing, may much glory and honor be bestowed on Jesus, the true Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Peter 2:25).