This past July I concluded a five-year tenure as an elder at Fellowship Bible Church. It was an absolutely wonderful experience. I was privileged to serve under our wonderful senior pastor Crawford Loritts and three incredible chairmen. The men I served alongside formed what would become lifelong friends and the best small group I was ever a part of. And our staff, oh our staff, what a joy it was to use my position and influence to encourage them and make their departments more successful.
But I made some bad mistakes as well. Some which I wish I could go back and have some do-overs. I said some ridiculous, sometimes outrageous things during meetings. I had some strong opinions on topics in which I did not have all of the information. And I was theologically off on some topics, particularly a healthy view of church discipline.
However, those were mistakes of commission. The biggest mistake I made was one of omission.
I am a very pragmatic person. The process of developing systems and finding solutions is something I get pure joy out of. After all, if you are a regular reader of this site, give me 10 steps and I can solve anything! I love the administrative side of ministry. However, if you are not disciplined, this can sometimes create a healthy unbalance.
The biggest mistake I made is I did not pray enough. I was often too pragmatic.
I tell church leaders across the country the following are the Top 3 things to look for in an elder in addition to the biblical qualifications:
- They love God more than anything. This includes His Word, His people, and the things He loves.
- They love their pastor and do everything they can to support him and make him successful.
- They love their church and are willing to put its mission and vision ahead of their personal agendas.
If I could do the last five years all over again, I would have been much more of a man of prayer. You see, what God has called church leaders to is something beyond their human competencies, human reasoning, human connections, and human efforts. There is a gap between what you can do and what He wants you to do. This gap can only be filled by Him and what He wants you to do.
You must be a leader whose finest quality is you can hear from God and then you are obedient to do what He asks you to do.
I could have and should have listened to God more. I could have and should have prayed for our church more. I could have and should have prayed for our leaders more. I could have and should have prayed for our community and its leader more.
The greatest elders are people marked by a strong prayer life. They have calloused knees. At the end of my five years my knees were way too smooth.
You don’t want a leader with smooth knees. I want a leader with calloused knees. Let’s look at six differences between the two:
- A leader with smooth knees is probably not a person of prayer. A leader with calloused knees is a probably person of prayer.
- A leader with smooth knees is probably not humble. A leader with calloused knees has probably experienced brokenness.
- A leader with smooth knees is probably self-absorbed. A leader with calloused knees is probably focused on others.
- A leader with smooth knees likely has a personal agenda. A leader with calloused knees likely puts others ahead of themselves.
- A leader with smooth knees is probably untested. A leader with calloused knees has likely developed perseverance and proven themselves faithful.
- A leader with smooth knees often does not recognize the voice of God. A leader with calloused knees almost always does.
You know when you have spent the proper time with God. More importantly, the people in your church know when you have been on your knees and spent time with God. If I ever become an elder again may I be known as a person with calloused knees.
I want close with a question, tell me about your knees. Are the smooth or calloused? I hope the latter.
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