Here’s a question that was posed to me. “If God can lose some of his children, isn’t it possible that godly men can lose some of their children?” It’s a good question to consider. What is implied in the question is that maybe Elders in God’s church don’t have to bat 100% in bringing all of their children to the Lord. Why should it be held against a man that his children go astray? No one calls into question God’s ability to be the chief shepherd when some of His children stray. Perhaps we should even expect that Elders are going to have some rebellious children! Before you buy into that line of reasoning, here’s what I would like for you to consider.
First, it’s possible that any soul could stray from God. But when comparing God and Elders in this matter, it’s apples and oranges. Why? Because God is perfect and we are not. In Jeremiah God says,
“I planted you a choice vine, a completely faithful seed. How then have you turned yourself before Me into the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine?” Jer 2:21.
When Judah left God, it wasn’t God’s fault. God was a perfect Father. But we know there’s no perfect father on earth. We have our failings. When our children stray, there’s the distinct possibility that the blame is at our feet. It’s not that we didn’t love God or that we didn’t love our children. A lot of imperfect parents are going to heaven. But the consequence of our imperfection may lead to our children turning away from God. It hurts to even consider it. But it’s the reality.
“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,” – Dt.5:9
Raising your children to follow the Lord isn’t a matter of chance or luck. The parents who raise all of their children to follow the Lord are the kind that put God first in their home. God wasn’t just a segment of their life, He was respected in all parts of the family life. In such a home, the sins of the parents had less negative impact because the repentance and love and daily dedication to God overcame.
If a man has raised all of his children to follow the Lord, does that mean He was perfect? No. But it does mean that he’s more likely to have what it takes to shepherd the church. When considering who can be an Elder in the church, make sure that He has believing children. IF he has unbelieving children, he’s not qualified to be an Elder. Period.
Let me say one more thing. When the children go through that pivotal age from child to adult, the parents are there to witness it and hopefully shape it. This is the age that I have seen more parents than I care to count give up. It is during this age that the parents earn their medal. Are they the ones that shape their children to follow the Lord or do they give up and settle into spectators who at best only pray that their children follow the Lord? When I see the giving up parents, it breaks my heart.
Said in love, Dan Mayfield