The ebb and flow of life can be both exciting and devastating. While change allows for growth and presents us with new challenges, it often takes away people, things, and circumstances that we hold dear. Last Sunday morning, the University church experienced another one of those ebb and flow moments and now we are left to move forward in the wake of this change.
If you are unaware, brother Joe O’Banon resigned from the eldership last Sunday morning. Joe had been an elder at University since May of 1986. The influence of Joe and Betty’s work is obvious to all and is too extensive to rehearse in a single post. Personally, I do not know if Joe will serve again in the future, but I do know that they will both continue to lead us through their example, work, and faith. Joe was the only remaining elder from the group of elders that hired me 14 years ago, so this week has been a sobering reminder to me that life does change, and we must be prepared for that change. Here are a few lessons we should remember in the ebb and flow of life…
First, training new leaders should be an ongoing part of the work of the church. Despite what common clichés might suggest, leaders are not born. Men and women do not simply age into maturity nor are they made qualified by the passing of time. We must invest, while we have the time and the strength, in bringing up another generation of leaders (2 Tim. 2:2). If we are not proactive in this endeavor, there is a chance that they will not be ready when they are needed. If you are an older Christian, clear part of your schedule to seek out a younger Christian to mentor and train. If you are a younger Christian, humble yourself and find an older Christian to learn from. You may be needed sooner than you think!
Second, we need more couples working side-by-side for the cause of Christ. I realize that not everyone is married and, of those who are, not all of those are blessed with a believing spouse. These individuals are a powerful force for God in their homes and churches. But the church also needs couples united in love and committed to Christ and to one another. Joe and Betty are just one of these couples that help to make University strong and active. We are also blessed with a number of young couples that could spend the next 40+ years following in their footsteps. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for this church, nor do I know if we all will remain faithful to Him. But I do know that we can do great things if we will solidify the faith of our younger families and encourage them to serve as tirelessly as the older generation has.
Third, gratitude should be shown before the opportunity is gone. When was the last time you told a church leader that you appreciated his work? When is the last time you have told a leader’s wife that you were thankful for her sacrifice? Don’t get me wrong, you can still tell Joe and Betty that you are thankful for them and for the work they continue to do, but we never know when someone else’s work will be finished, and you can no longer say “thank you.” Expressions of appreciation lift spirits. They help to erase doubts in a leader’s heart and answer the questions of doubt in a leader’s confidence.
Instead of drifting or drowning in the ebb and flow, let us learn how to navigate these moments of change and uncertainty. In doing so, we will mirror the character of our unchanging God and, prayerfully, lead others to know Him better.