The friendship between Harvest Bible Church and Gordon and Joyce Zwirkoski has thrived for about 15 years, through the varied joys and toils of ministry leadership. An April 27 Shepherds’ Training Day added to the history, as elders, elders’ wives and other shepherds gathered at the church’s campus in Westland, Michigan.
Sessions for the day included In the Battle . . . or Not, which considered a soldier’s devotion and an athlete’s discipline; What’s an Elder to Do? regarding priorities, discipline, disagreements and distractions; Popcorn Points to edify, protect, encourage and support; In the Slough, a.k.a. How to Handle Discouragement; and a church-life case study titled Children’s Ministry Surprise. For half the day, elders’ wives worked with Joyce on three topics: Personal Attacks, Healing from Deep Wounds and Flourishing in the Role.
Said Senior Pastor Dan McGhee: The day Gordon and Joyce spent with our team was exactly what we needed. We’ll see dividends long into the future. The material covered was excellent. It was clear that our people came away with a greater appreciation of the weightiness of the role of elder in Christ’s local church.
I was especially grateful that the elders’ wives met privately with Joyce. It’s no easy task being married to an elder who takes his biblical role seriously. Wives often find themselves supporting a weary and at times a discouraged husband. It’s a difficult role. She often doesn’t have all the information about the problems her husband is facing.
Joyce brings a special ability to empathize with an elder’s wife, and she does so with a wealth of Bible knowledge and personal life experience. Her willingness to be vulnerable and share her personal story with Julie and me over dinner was especially encouraging. It’s good to be reminded that we’re not alone in the battle.