In Paul’s letter to Timothy, a fellow worker and son in the Gospel, he gives some instructions pertaining to the character qualifications for those who are called to be elders/pastors in the church. He introduces his instruction with these words: “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer [or elder or pastor], he desires a noble task.” The word ‘noble’ which he uses here is the Greek word “kalos,” which means ‘beautiful or good (literally or morally)’. Why would he say this? Why would it be beautiful to lead God’s people? To be accountable for them? To be an overseer over their faith? To be a servant-leader to people? I think it is beautiful because the task is one which portrays the Good Shepherd over our souls, the one who has accounted for every hair on our heads, the one who leads us with a servant heart. The bottom line is that to desire leadership in God’s house is to desire to be like Jesus, and He likes that type of heart.
We are at a place as a church where we have just released our tenth person into the beautiful task of leading in the family of God. (Cliff Hiscock, who now elders in Josh Gen in Cape Town, is one of the ten.) This person is Shaun Harrison. He and his family have been part of the church for the last 12 years, and we have seen the Holy Spirit do so much in his life over the years since joining us as Oxygen Life Church. He is an estate agent by occupation, a father of three, a husband to his lovely wife Angie, and all-in-all a friend and leader to many within and outside the church. I asked Shaun a couple of questions regarding his call to this beautiful task:
Q: When did you know that you were called to elder in the church?
“Basically right at the very beginning of Oxygen Life, a prophetess named Kerry Southey came to the church and prophesied over myself and Angie. She prophesied that Angie would be married to a pastor. Funnily enough, I was standing next to her, and I certainly wasn’t a pastor! Haha! But that was the start of an awakening of what God saw over me in leadership. Not long after this we were released as deacons into the life of the church, which was a very important part in preparing me for this moment.
“I can also remember that at a Leadership Training Time in Bloemfontein, Brad asked me if I felt a call over my life to be an elder. At that time I was not thinking in that direction, but it was like the Lord was planting seeds in me that resulted in a desire in my heart to elder in His church. In the years that followed, God gave life to that desire, and began to confirm it through others around me who were prompted by the Spirit to tell me what they felt God was saying to me. Like in May 2010, at a church meeting, Claudette Erasmus had a prophetic word for me, saying that the Lord wanted to give me more authority and that the Lord was fashioning a bronze breastplate of righteousness that had been tailor-made for me. The breast plate was meant for increase authority and increase capacity. This and other words from God through people served as confirmations, feeding this growing call to elder one day. But I also knew I had to prepare myself and rest in the fact that God knew the timing.”
Q: How have you prepared or positioned yourself towards eldership since having received the recurring ‘calls’ to elder?
“I felt strongly that I needed to position myself better. One of the key things I did was to chat to Brad and ask him what areas he saw in my life that would potentially disqualify me as an elder. It was a hectic question to ask, as you don’t often get the answers you want hear – actually, you never do! Haha! I needed to know about possible blind spots and hindrances that would prevent me walking in the call of God over my life, so that when the call did come, whether it was then or in 10 years time, I would be ready.
“Then through prayer and counsel, working together with Brad, I submitted myself to him and asked him to speak into my life, which then allowed God to work in me as I responded to Him by addressing those areas He highlighted. I had already submitted my life to Brad and the eldership team many times in the past, but this was specifically in the area of eldership. It was in that time that I felt God challenging me in my walk with Him, telling me to stop holding back from the things he had called me into. I felt God wanting me to pursue Him, not the eldership call. The best ‘positioning’ is to be satisfied in Him first!”
Q: What fears and excitement do you have as you approach being released amongst us as an elder?
“Well, my fears are natural fears, I think… The fear of the unknown: What am I getting myself into? Haha. A big fear is the fact that the Lord will hold me accountable even more so for every word spoken out of my mouth; the weight of my words will be much heavier. The words I speak will no longer come from me as a deacon but from an eldership authority, which is quite daunting. Another fear: Will I shepherd his people correctly - the ones under my care? The beauty is that I’ll be eldering in team, so that is very comforting in dealing with some of these fears.
“What excites me is that I'm already feeling a deeper sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. I'm really excited about joining the current team of elders. I say so because I have been privileged to have been there and seen all the deacons and elders appointed in Oxygen since the start of the church. I have known them and seen the testing by God that needs to take place before any of the leaders have been released, plus the prayer and fasting by the eldership before anyone is appointed to any 'position'. The awesome part of this is that none of the appointments have then come by surprise, as all the leaders were all actually functioning in that office of leadership before they were appointed. That’s exciting for me – knowing that God calls and appoints, and it’s not man looking to fill a vacant position.
“The other thing that excites me is that God showed me a picture of a rugby team and the different positions needed for the game. Each player is needed in their own position. God showed me that I was being added to the team because he wanted me in a certain position, like a good flyhalf or flank, for example. It's the working together as a TEAM that's important to God, and also that each one should play their absolute best – at times even covering for others that may be caught in the ruck or maul for the Lord. The better the players are in their positions, the better the team will function. So it's exciting for me; God has confirmed it to me by showing me through this picture that He is strengthening His team for HIS glory.
“It’s just so exciting knowing I am going to part of an eldership team who are already in full swing in leading God’s people into a new season – our very own building. It is an absolute privilege being able to serve His body in this exciting season. We all know that growth is busy happening, new people are being added, new leaders are being raised up and lives are being changed. This is an exciting time. It’s an absolute privilege to be part of it all. I feel that we all just need to be the best me's we can be in the Lord so He can use us all in our positions to strengthen His Bride.”
So that’s it for Shaun. We are so pumped having him come on board. He has a heart of gold and a servant heart second to none. Angie is a woman who has clothed herself with Jesus and is oozing with good works for His glory. She is a pocket rocket for God herself, and as a team we will all benefit by having her come on board with all her experience – in the Lord, and in life as a mother of three and wife to Shaun! She needs a lot of medals for that alone! Haha!
Oxygen Life Church, it’s a new season! It’s a time of celebration! A time to PRAY for our leaders and thank the Lord for those who have willingly been enlisted to the beautiful call to elder God’s flock. Let’s love on this precious couple and their family! They are all one very special family whom we are proud of and love deeply! Exciting times!
Love you guys!