I have been doing a lot of thinking about the role of the elder in the United Methodist Church. When I started the journey to becoming an elder at the age of 38, after 20 years in management, I decided that I was willing to fully commit to the sacrifices and challenges of living out the life of an elder. I started out as a local pastor serving a small country church and for eight years I served that congregation while working full time including 7 years on our Conference staff and going to seminary. As I think back on those years as a local pastor I realize how much my ministry was impacted by the elders that had been the pastors of the churches I attended and then while serving at Emory Chapel I was surrounded by a number of elders with many years of experience and wisdom. While I believed the work I was doing was important and I thought of myself as committed to the church, I knew that with the bulk of my income coming from other sources, living in my own home in the community of my choosing and living more than 30 miles from the church I was not connecting to my church or community in the same way that many of the elders around me were able to.
We need to make sure we look at the costs for every decision we make.