Who is an elder? As the pastor explained, the Greek word used simply means "one who is older." A parallel word in the Old Testament is used to indicate people who have a position of responsibility for the spiritual guidance and oversight of another.
As a mother, I definitely qualify on both counts. I am both older than my children and also bear responsibility to guide them.
The second and third verses of the passage call elders to be shepherds to God's flock — not all of God's flock, but just the portion "under your care" — through a series of three contrasts:
not because you must
but because you are willing
not pursuing dishonest gain
but eager to serve
not lording it over those entrusted to you
but being examples to the flock
This really convicted me.
As I go through the daily tasks of mothering, am I doing it simply because I must, or because I am willing?
Am I making choices about parenting and for my children to serve my own pride or further my own agenda or even just for my own convenience, or am I truly eager to serve their needs?
Do I overuse my authority and greater physical strength and intellect to get my way? Do I use my words and body language in shaming ways? Do I expect better behavior from my children than I expect from myself? Or do I live out the fruits of the Spirit and model love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness and self-control in my interactions with them and others?
Yesterday I had a very productive day in terms of completing household tasks. I started out enjoying it, but as the day went on, my attitude soured and grew resentful as I played the martyr in my mind.
I recognize that pattern and I don't want to live like that. I want to the joy that comes when I am willing to eagerly serve and be examples to my flock.
The last two verses in the passage address the flock. Guess what? As a mom, I'm part of the flock too, and the call to humility is for me as much as for my children.
I can only reach a place of joyful service by humbling myself, admitting to God that I can't do it on my own, and inviting Him to live through me.