“I thought elders were supposed to lead! This isn’t a democracy where they take a congregational poll!”
“They seem to have no regard for the opinions of the church. They just decide and move on without considering the church!”
It isn’t easy being an elder. So often, they just can’t win. I’ve heard the above comments from the same members—at different times over different issues. The position they express (Lead more! or Listen more!) depends on which side they’re on.
If it looks like the elders are going to make a decision that I agree with but that many in the church disagree with, then I’m leaning into their responsibility to lead. Shepherds lead the sheep!
If it looks like the elders are going to press forward with something I don’t like, then I’m going to squawk about how they aren’t dictators. Shepherds don’t trample over the sheep!
Alas, it’s hard to win this one as elders.
The truth is that elderships must do both: they must stay in close touch with the church. They must listen to the voices of all the sisters and brothers in a church. Discernment is an important part of the process of decision-making. AND they must eventually decide. And it seems increasingly (as with American politics) that there is fall-out with every decision. It’s too much. Or it isn’t enough.
This is the point in a great blog where a seasoned minister gives the answer to this dilemma.
I don’t have one. If I did, I’d open a consulting business and get rich.
I’m only pleading with people to see the challenge. And perhaps be a bit more compassionate. Press hard. Pray hard. Make your case. But do your very best to make the hard work of leading a joyful one.
And I know: it can’t always be.