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Q How do I discern whether God is calling me to be an elder? I've been nominated to serve as elder for the first time, and I'm feeling unsure.

A “For the first time,” you write, and that helps me to start answering the question. Those who have served before have a perfectly good idea about what is involved in the task and likely have overcome any initial anxiety. Their process of discernment includes thoughts about whether they can afford the time, serve effectively at this junction in the church’s journey, and feel somewhat positively about the challenge.

For first-timers, I believe, the process is much more complex. Now that the council has nominated you, you already know that there’s a call. But it’s an external one, and your struggle is to determine whether it’s also internally confirmed. You will need to dwell on the “job description” found in Article 25b of the Church Order and consult the denominational website, choosing just two or three items from the vast amounts of materials written (Louis Tamminga’s The Elder’s Handbook, say, or one of the webinars for elders’ training). Having done that, you will need to assess your own God-given talents. Not just by yourself but in the context of your community. Do relatives, friends, and members you are close to believe you have the required gifts? Do you need to hear more from the council about how it is they believe that? Do you find encouragement and affirmation in what they say? Sometimes I wish communities would do this before nominees are decided upon.

At any rate, your final decision should be bathed in prayer. Ultimately it’s between you and God. Just decide—and never second-guess!

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