by David Roadcup
I have a small collection of pocketknives. One of the things about using a knife for any purpose is the need to keep the blade sharp. Whether a hunting knife, kitchen knife, or even a chain saw, the tool is effective only if it is sharp.
As elders serve at their posts, one issue to keep in mind is the need to grow and flourish in mental development. Staying fresh in this area will provide new ideas and quality information to make us as effective as possible at our posts as church leaders.
Staying sharp mentally can be accomplished in the following ways:
- Stay in the Word of God on a regular basis.
Filling our minds and hearts with Scripture on a daily basis feeds us spiritually. It will also keep us continually focused on the right things. Being in the Word will remind us about who we are and what our task is.
- Read good content.
Reading valuable books, newsletters and articles on leadership, spiritual development, church growth, cultural trends and other important topics is vital to an elder staying sharp. There are now more good books on church leadership generally and eldership specifically than ever before. Information on growing healthy churches is available by the proverbial truckload. Online articles, e-books, blogs, podcasts and other helpful sources of information are available to leaders in amazing abundance. As leaders, “keeping our wells full” when it comes to reading is critical. We grow when we read. I have served with elders who did not like to read. This is understandable. I would encourage those who do not find reading enjoyable to consider various audio books as an alternative – books on media (tapes, CD) or purely virtually (such as Amazon’s subsidiary Audible). Even though some leaders may not find reading pleasurable, I would encourage them to read anyway. It is such a great way to stay sharp, find encouragement and stay on the leading edge when it comes to leadership.
- Attend helpful conventions and conferences.
There are several excellent meetings that would benefit someone who is leading as an elder. Here are just a few:
- Exponential (March 2020 in Orlando)
- The Global Leadership Summit (August 2020, virtually)
- Spire (October 2019, Orlando)
- Catalyst (October 2019, Atlanta)
- International Conference on Missions / “ICOM” (November 2019, Kansas City)
- Annual Elders’ or Elder-and-Staff Retreats
Retreats are valuable and can produce excellent results! Getting away from our normal environment, taking time from our routine and having the chance to plan, focus on critical issues and discuss solutions are some of the positive outcomes when Christian leaders gather in a retreat setting.
Jim, Gary and I all lead elder retreats as part of our ministry through e2. In these retreats, the spirit and enthusiasm is high as brothers meet to fellowship, learn and to pray together. We discuss topics such as “The Growing Spiritual Life of the Elder,” “Leading Effective Change” and “How to Handle Conflict in the Church.” We facilitate exercises for leaders that strengthen relationships between elders and staff. We make time for intercessory prayer together and fellowship around the table as we share meals and conversation. It is an excellent experience together as the Lord meets us there with His blessing.
Keeping our edge sharp and staying informed through involving ourselves in the above ways will make us more effective in serving our Chief Shepherd. God bless you as you continue to grow and serve!