“Come to Me, . . . and I Will Refresh You”
“Shepherd the Flock of God”
“You are always there to lend a hearing ear and share words from the Bible that lift our spirits.”—Pamela.
“Thank you for all you do in behalf of all of us. It really makes a difference.”—Robert.
PAMELA and Robert were moved to write these words of appreciation to the Christian elders in their respective congregations. Others among God’s servants worldwide also are thankful for the continuing support and care they receive from those who “shepherd the flock of God.” (1 Peter 5:2) Indeed, Jehovah’s people are grateful for the many things that the elders do in their behalf and for the manner in which they do them.
“Having Plenty to Do”
Christian elders are entrusted with numerous responsibilities. (Luke 12:48) They prepare talks for congregation meetings and share in publicly preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom. Their duties include making shepherding calls on fellow believers. The elders devote time to those in need of special attention—the elderly and others—all without neglecting the spiritual and material welfare of their own families. (Job 29:12-15; 1 Timothy 3:4, 5; 5:8) Some elders help to build Kingdom Halls. Others serve on Hospital Liaison Committees or are members of Patient Visitation Groups. And many of them perform volunteer work at assemblies and conventions. Yes, elders have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) No wonder such hardworking elders are deeply appreciated by those entrusted to their care!—1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13.
Elders who regularly visit fellow Christians at home or elsewhere in order to strengthen them spiritually are a source of encouragement. “If it were not for the loving support and encouragement of the elders,” said Thomas, who grew up without a father in the home, “I don’t think I would be serving Jehovah as a full-time minister today.” Many youths raised in single-parent families acknowledge that the attention they received from the elders helped them to develop a personal relationship with God.
Shepherding visits are also much valued by older ones in the congregation. After a missionary couple in their mid-80’s were visited by two elders, they wrote: “We want to express our appreciation for your very welcome visit. After you left, we again read the scriptures that you considered with us. We will never forget your words of encouragement.” A 70-year-old widow wrote to the elders: “I have been praying to Jehovah for help, and he sent you two brothers to my home. Your visit was a blessing from Jehovah!” Have you recently benefited from a visit made by elders in your congregation? Surely all of us appreciate their efforts in shepherding the flock in their care!
Shepherds Who Imitate God and Christ
Jehovah is a loving Shepherd. (Psalm 23:1-4; Jeremiah 31:10; 1 Peter 2:25) Jesus Christ is also an outstanding spiritual Shepherd. In fact, he is called “the fine shepherd,” “the great shepherd,” and “the chief shepherd.” (John 10:11; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4) How did Jesus deal with those who wished to become his disciples? He gave them the warm invitation: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you.”—Matthew 11:28.
Elders today likewise strive to be a source of refreshment and protection to the flock. Such men “prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” (Isaiah 32:2) Such kind protectors bring refreshment, earn the respect of the flock, and gain God’s approval.—Philippians 2:29; 1 Timothy 5:17.
Valuable Support From Their Wives
God’s people are grateful for Christian elders and for the loving support these men receive from their wives. Being supportive often calls for sacrifices on the part of such women. At times, they are at home while their husbands are caring for congregation matters or are making shepherding calls. Sometimes, carefully made personal plans are set aside because some urgent problem arises in the congregation. “Even so,” said Michelle, “when I see how busy my husband is preparing for the meetings or making shepherding calls, I keep in mind that he is doing Jehovah’s work, and I try to be as supportive as I can.”
Cheryl, also married to an elder, stated: “I know that the brothers and sisters in the congregation need elders to talk to, and I want them to feel that they can come to my husband anytime they need him.” Supportive women, such as Michelle and Cheryl, willingly make sacrifices so that their husbands can care for God’s sheep. Wives of elders are appreciated for their supportive spirit.
Yet, a busy elder must not overlook the spiritual and other needs of his wife and children. A married elder must be “free from accusation, a husband of one wife, having believing children that [are] not under a charge of debauchery nor unruly.” (Titus 1:6) He must care for his family in the godly manner Scripturally required of Christian overseers.—1 Timothy 3:1-7.
For a busy elder, a supportive wife is priceless! That is how thoughtful married elders feel. It is just as the Bible says: “Has one found a good wife? One has found a good thing.” (Proverbs 18:22) In word and deed, such elders show their wives heartfelt appreciation. In addition to earnest prayer and pleasurable study together, these Christian married couples set aside time to enjoy such things as a walk on the beach, a hike in the woods, or a stroll in a park. Yes, elders find joy in giving their wives loving care.—1 Peter 3:7.