The Rewards of Serving Christ in his Church
Recently I heard it said that many men don’t look forward to serving in church office. If they are chosen and appointed, there’s an ordination service—an encouraging and inspiring occasion.
But then comes the first real meeting: a flood of information to digest, a seeming labyrinth of regulations to navigate, and the crushing sense that you’ve just been handed a near-unachievable assignment. Some brothers yearn to serve as a deacon or elder, but many others dread it, especially when they’ve been in office before: they know what the next few years are going to be like…
No, the special offices don’t always feel so special. And it’s not an easy task. Anyone who comes to the end of his term without a few more grey hairs has probably been neglecting important work.
Being in special office will be hard, yet Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1 assumes that men will “desire the position.” He also affirms that such a position is “good work.”
Paul calls his own ministry a gift because he was allowed to preach Christ (Eph 3:8). He counts the work a privilege, for even though this task meant floggings, prison, shipwrecks, persecution, and daily anxiety (2 Cor 11:22-29), everything he did was for the strengthening of Christ’s people (2 Cor 12:19).
Viewed from this perspective, the ministry of being an elder or deacon or minister remains a great privilege: we’re allowed to care for the people whom Jesus bought with his precious blood. In itself, this is reward enough. But when we serve faithfully, God adds a multitude of blessings and benefits.
Having to counsel and encourage our brothers and sisters moves us to search the Scriptures in a more diligent way.
Getting acquainted with people’s hurts and heartaches leads us to develop the discipline of intercessory prayer.
Ministering effectively to someone gives the deep satisfaction of being able to make a difference in their life.
Being in church office and ministering to our brothers and sisters connects us more closely to the other parts of Christ’s Body.
Needing to make weighty decisions as church leaders causes us to ask more fervently for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Facing the burden of our assignment, we’re forced to confront our own weakness and to rely more humbly on God’s strength—one of life’s most important lessons.
In so many ways, being in special office is a training ground for the faith. No wonder Paul assumes that men will desire this good work; it is essential for the church, and it’s also beneficial for those in office: “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 3:13).