The work of an elder is among the greatest privileges that could ever be given. Indeed it is a “good work” but it is also a challenging one. Like everyone else, godly elders need to be strengthened in their work, and the church has the responsibility to fulfil that need. Hebrews 13 provides three practical ways that we can strengthen and encourage godly leaders.
Remember them (Heb. 13:7). To “remember” our elders is to “keep them in mind,” and implies thinking not only of them individually, but also of their admonitions. God not only wants us to “remember” our leaders, He requires it! Practically speaking, one of the best ways to do this is prayer. To be sure, a godly elder will pray for us often , but how often do we pray for him? We should pray for our leaders daily. We should pray for their well-being, for their families, for the decisions that they make, and so many other things. How strengthening it would be for a shepherd to know that the sheep remember him in prayer regularly.
Obey them (Heb. 13:17). The Hebrews writer says that we are to “obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” To “obey” is to willingly put oneself in a position to be persuaded and to “submit” is to yield, or give way, to authority. The second half of the passage explains why—“… for they watch for your souls, as they that must give an account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Elders are charged with the responsibility of keeping constant vigilance over our souls, and they will give an account of how they carry out that duty. We can encourage and strengthen our shepherds by gladly and willingly submitting to their authority, as they submit to the Chief Shepherd’s authority (1 Pet. 5:4).
Salute them (Heb. 13:24). To “salute” means simply, “to greet.” The idea is that we speak kindly to and heap well wishes upon our leaders. How often do we verbally encourage our elders? We ought to make a habit of letting them know how much we appreciate them and the work that they do. Tell them that we think about them and pray for them often. Tell them that we appreciate their faith and good example. Make sure that they hear from us all the time, instead of just the times when we disagree with them. In so doing, our words will provide a powerful source of strength and encouragement.