There’s one last thing to we must mention when discussing the elder. He must lead with a limp.
Hebrews 5:1-4 says this, “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.”
See the seriousness of the call here? No one takes this office upon himself, but only those who are called by God to do so. And even once one undertakes the ministry of the Word he must deal gently with the ignorant and the wayward since he himself is beset with weakness too. This is what leading with a limp looks like. Isaac’s son Jacob, in Genesis, was a proud young man who got by in life by his cunning deception and prideful manner. God met him in Genesis 32, they wrestled, and prideful Jacob became humbled Israel. From that moment on Jacob walked with a limp, for he had met God as a boy and came away a man.
One of my mentors while I was in seminary, Chris Robins, is someone I’ve learned much from him, and I’ll never forget a story he told me once.
He often drank coffee, so much so, the local Starbucks in Midtown Atlanta knew him by name and knew he was a pastor. One Sunday before church he came in for his coffee, the barista recognized him saying, “Good morning pastor Chris, how are you?” He responded, “Better than I deserve.” The barista stopped in her tracks because she didn’t understand how a pastor could say such things because she thought as a pastor he would’ve had it all together and figured out life’s most deepest questions/issues. She was busy and didn’t have time to linger on this befuddlement at the reality of a pastor saying such things so she went on making his coffee along with others. And when his coffee was done, he came and picked it up, thanked her, left, and on the way out of the door saw that she had drawn a “halo” under his name on the coffee cup.
He came into church that day and told us the story. He knew she didn’t understand what a pastor’s calling is. She thought of him as a saint, an angel. The halo showed that. He told us, “People think I’m a saint, or that I’ve somehow “arrived” and because of my great spiritual pilgrimage through life I can now teach others the way to God. What a lie this is! I haven’t arrived, I’m not saint! I teach and preach my heart out because I know who I am, I know I’m a sinner. But I know one more thing – I know if God can save me, he can save anyone!”
This has gripped me, has it gripped you? I pray it would, and that the amazing grace of God would so take you that you begin teaching all who have ears to hear. Teaching is a dangerous calling for sure, James tells us this. But there’s nothing else I’d rather give my life to!
Lord of all mercy, true hope of my heart,
Grant me Thy blessing that I may impart,
Hope for the helpless, wherever they may be
Help me bless others, as Thou has blessed me.
Father in heaven look down from above,
Make me a vessel of Thy perfect love,
Show in Thy kindness in this world of care,
Help me bless others this is my prayer.
Father all glorious my Lord and my Light,
Grant me Thy wisdom and strength that I might,
Comfort the fallen, and lift up the lame,
Help me bless others in Thy blessed name.