About Us (Part VIII)

This is the final installment of the “About Us” series on the eldership at Southside.  These articles have included a look at the specific guidelines for Southside elders found in our bylaws (Part I).  And looking farther back, to our predecessors found in both Old and New Testaments (Part II), we saw how much of their function remains the same across both covenants.  The important key differences that now exist in the New Testament era were covered in Part III as Paul instructed the Ephesian elders on what their job entailed.  The eligibility requirements for elders, the qualities of the men to lead God’s church were examined in Part VPart VI examined the Bible’s structure for church leadership, plurality, and the blessings of it.  Lastly, Part VII detailed some particular activities that the Southside elders have recently been engaged in.  Our prayer is that these articles and our recent presentation to the combined adult Bible classes have been helpful as we approach the time to affirm a couple of our current leaders (Hollis Bagley and Wayne Eads) and/or select new candidates to join them.

This final article in the series does not cover leadership, but a related topic: followership.  Paul urged his Corinthian readers to “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. (1 Co. 11:1)”.  Given that all Christians form a priesthood of believers, what does it mean to be a good follower in the church?  The Hebrews writer answers this question for us more completely than any other in the New Testament.  Chapter 13 verses 7-9, 17 and 18 form the basis of response to godly leadership.  Together, these words to church members read...

“Remember your leaders who spoke God’s word to you. Imitate their faith as you consider the way their lives turned out.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!  Don’t be misled by the many strange teachings out there. It’s a good thing for the heart to be strengthened by grace… Rely on your leaders and defer to them, because they watch over your whole being as people who are going to be held responsible for you. They need to be able to do this with pleasure and not with complaints about you, because that wouldn’t help you. Pray for us.  We're sure that we have a good conscience, and we want to do the right thing in every way. (CEB)” 

To summarize the writer, the response of followership can be expressed in the word LOVE.  Good followers of good leaders will…

·         Listen to God’s word that their leaders have spoken (vs. 7).

·         Observe their lives the way in which they have turned out (vs. 7).

·         Verify what they teach so as to not be misled (vs. 9).

·         Emulate their faith and their life habits (vs. 7).

This attitude of LOVE should result in a willingness to rely on them and defer to their wisdom and leadership.  While many familiar Bible translations render verse 17 with words like obey or submit, a truer translation reads “be sure you maintain a yielding disposition, and remain open to their persuasion.”  This is not a relationship of command and control but of willingness and watchfulness that results in blessing.

Paul qualified congregational followership back in 1 Corinthians: “Follow me, as I follow Christ” as the Modern English Version simply states it.  Church members, whose ultimate loyalty lies with Christ, only follow men as they are led by Christ.  Without this essential prerequisite, no church member is bound to ungodly leadership.  Men who are not above reproach, lack self-control or personal holiness have already disqualified themselves from being true leaders.  They cannot lead, and others cannot follow where they are not first walking themselves.  But if a recognized leader proves unfaithful, a faithful congregation must confront him with two or more witnesses (1 Ti. 5:19)

Lastly, the Hebrews writer requests prayer from their readers, and the elders of Southside echo that request and present it to you.  Please pray the Lord would guide and equip us in our shepherd/leadership ministry.  Without him we can do nothing.

Please email us at southside-elders@googlegroups.com if you would like a copy of the presentation from March 4th or with any other questions you have for us regarding the upcoming election or any other matter.  We welcome your input.