Ten Heartaches of Being an Elder or Evangelist

Ten Heartaches of Being an Elder or Evangelist

By S. U. Onah

            The shepherds’ and preachers’ hearts go through many sorrows. I make no claim that they are perfect people. At the same time, though, most are genuine, faithful followers of God who love the congregations they serve. They’ve learned, too, that the work of ministry often carries heartache with it.

            1. We mourn when marriages fall apart. We usually hear both sides of the story, and we’re privy to the anguish and sin of both persons. Often, we’ve seen the pain that divorce can cause.

            2. We hurt when young people make decisions that lead them into trouble. None of us wants our young people to go down paths that could lead to long-term difficulty. Nor can we always stop it, either.

            3. We occasionally beat ourselves up when our sermon wasn’t nearly as strong as we thought it should be. We’re often our own worst critics. And, some of us will think for days about how we could have done better.

            4. We sometimes grieve over the sins of others more than they do. We know that we can’t bring them to repentance on our own, and it’s agonizing to watch them continue toward destruction.

            5. We ache when the church must carry out discipline. In all my years of ministry, few situations were as painful as removing a church member who chose to ignore our attempts at guidance and reconciliation. We feel that we have failed in reaching him as his ministers.

            6. We struggle when the churches we lead aren’t growing. I realize that we can become idolatrous about numbers, but most elders and preachers aren’t comfortable when they are not reaching people.

            7. We sometimes hurt alone when we see the loneliness and struggles of our families. Some families of elders and preachers struggle under the weight of the task—and we often keep that struggle to ourselves.

            8. We quietly grieve over the funerals for persons who showed no evidence of Christian conversion. We have to lead in those situations, but the tears sometimes come in the quiet rooms of our lives.

            9. We wrestle with loneliness because we have trouble developing strong friendships, fellowships, relationships, and partnerships.

            10. Finally, we often feel guilty even expressing any of the above thoughts. I doubt that I am the only elder or preacher who has ever felt these things. Say a prayer for your elders and preachers this day. (Brother Onah is an elder and evangelist with the Makurdi church of Christ in Nigeria)

Helpful Distinctions for Today

Men are not women.

Women are not men.

Pets are not children.

Children are not accessories.

Boyfriends and girlfriends are not spouses.

The Internet is not a substitute for the local church.

Feelings are not facts.

Clarity is speech is not an insult or a threat.

Creatures are not the Creator.

Sin is not righteousness.

How to Listen to a Sermon

1. Pray for the preacher.

2. Pray for a receptive heart.

3. Pray for an alert mind.

4. Hold the Bible open.

5. Keep focus by taking notes.

6. Turn the phone off.

7. Ignore the clock.

8. Show respect for other hearers.

9. Greet and thank the preacher afterward.

10. Recall and recite points from the sermon at home.

Glorify God

            The “do what makes you happy” culture is toxic for Christians. We are not called to do what makes us happy; we are called to glorify God. Christianity is not always sunshine and happiness. It is hard work and dedication to Him. Do. What. Glorifies. God!


A Moments Wisdom

  • When a preacher is a motivational speaker, the members become happy sinners.
  • When you are in a dark place, sometimes you think you have been buried. Perhaps you have been planted. Bloom.
  • The more we miss church, the less we miss church.
  • Unfaithful members do not forsake the assembling because they live too far from the church; they forsake the assembling because they live too far from the Lord.

Test Your Bible Knowledge of Ruth.

I am Ruth; what is the name of my:

1. Home country __________

2. Mother-in-law __________

3. Second husband __________

4. Son __________

5. Great grandson, the king __________

6. Grandchild, 17 generations later __________

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