November 21, 2021

Called to be an Elder

Written by:
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

Written by Dn Low Boon Siang

The pastor and elders of our church have been advising me concerning the need for more elders, and encouraging me to pray and consider eldership this year. My thought had been that serving as a deacon in the church, alongside the elders, for as long as possible, was the best I could do at this time. I felt I was not mentally and spiritually prepared to fulfil this high calling in the church leadership. There were a few other matters also that I thought would impede my immediate availability and suitability. I was concerned regarding my family’s plans of moving into a new house closer to the church, settling into a new work environment, and my desire to complete the Certificate of Biblical Studies (CertBS) in FEBC.

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Even though I thought I would only consider the appointment of an elder in the next election in 2024, after having settled down amid the many changes in my life, the Lord has directed me otherwise. Through the counsel of Pastor Koshy and the elders from God’s Word, and reviewing my personal life circumstances in the past year, the Lord has led me to the conviction of His call for me to the office of an elder.

In my conversation with Pastor, I mentioned that I do see that there is indeed much work for our elders to shoulder, and that I would help them as a deacon for now, as I did not really experience a “desire” to be an elder (as stated in 1 Timothy 3:1). Then, Pastor explained that the “desire” (mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:1) for “the office of a bishop” is not a self-driven desire for the position, but a burden and desire to do the work which elders must do. I acknowledged that I have a burden to help our elders with the increasing work of the Lord (which was made known to me by them) that they have been bearing. Pastor also explained that to do those works, one needs to be appointed to the office of an elder. Thus, the Lord has helped me to see that the call to be an elder is not just a call to that particular position of leadership in the church, but is actually a call to do the work of service. After reflection on the matter with prayer, the Lord has increased my desire to serve Him as an elder of the church and do His work by giving my best in whatever area He would put me. Hence, I realise that I can no longer give the excuse of “not having a desire to be in the position of an elder” in order to avoid obeying God’s call.

As I reflected further, I recalled how God has convicted me to step down from the leadership position in my workplace about one and a half years ago so that I can devote more time and energy to serve Him. The Lord has also placed a desire and given peace in my heart to sell my flat in Jurong, and move nearer to the church and GMC so that I can be more effective in the service of the Lord. Could all these be a clear indication from God to serve Him in a greater capacity?

Pastor also exhorted me from the Word that when we do God’s work, we may not be fully free from personal struggles in life. God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt while Moses was in a strange land, Midian, struggling in life away from His own people in Egypt. He had the burden of his family in Midian, faced the uncertainty about his safety if he returned to Egypt after having to flee from there in the first place, faced the possibility of being rejected by the Hebrew community, etc. Yet the LORD commanded Moses to take up the leadership of His people. I realised that my wish to be in a more settled and comfortable place in life before taking up the role of an elder was neither sound nor biblical. Such expedient thinking would not help me to fulfil God’s will concerning my service to Him. Obeying God’s call should be anytime and anywhere, and not dependent on how I feel.

Pastor and the elders also shared with me the great burden in the BOE to support the current heavy workload of administrative responsibilities in the church and GBWL, as well as to look into the spiritual needs of the many ministries in the church. Should I hold on to my own ideas and continue to ignore the real needs in the church leadership? Am I a bearer of the cross in following Christ if I put my own needs above the ministry’s needs? “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27), Jesus has said. I was further moved by the words of our Lord in Luke 9:62, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Considering all the above, I have no excuse in postponing the decision to serve Him as an elder of Gethsemane B-P Church. It became clear to me that God has called me to be an elder to serve Him wholeheartedly and faithfully. Now, I can only humbly submit myself to God’s call for me, and do His will in my life. I cast all my burdens and cares unto Him, and submit to His will – “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42b).

Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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