Assembled with the realization that most pastors are overworked and underappreciated
1. Choose to respect your pastors. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you” (1 Thess. 5:12). Carefully avoid any thought, comment, or action that might be taken as disrespect, especially something in the form of a joke. Appreciate that they are sacrificially serving Christ and others. Recognize that God has placed them in a position of responsibility for which they must give account unto the Lord, leading the flock and encouraging your growth and activity in the Lord.
2. Choose to love your pastors with an unconditional love. “Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (v. 13). Address them with love and respect for their office, using “Pastor” or another scriptural form. Express to them your appreciation for their work for the Lord, for their dedication to His service, and for their sacrificial efforts to accomplish God’s work.
3. Choose to follow your pastor’s leadership with a right attitude. Pattern your walk after that of those who “have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation [the result of their manner of life]” (Heb. 13:7). “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (v. 17). The authority of their “rule” is the Word of God. Recognize them as representing God, ministering for your good.
4. Choose to obey the teaching of Scripture as your pastors teach and preach it in such a fashion that their work is for them a joy and not a burden, “with joy, and not with grief” (v. 17). Endeavor to inculcate all that they proclaim as an evident characteristic of your life, not accepted just an ideal or a theory. Walk as Jesus walked and as your pastor walks.
5. Uphold your pastor in prayer. All pastors from their hearts would beseech, “Pray for us, for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly” (v. 18). “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak” (Col. 4:2-4). Pray that your pastor’s personal witnessing and public proclamation might be clear and effective, used by the Holy Spirit.
6. Generously meet your pastor’s needs. The financial compensation of any pastor should be approximately the average of those in the congregation. Special consideration is due to those who minster commendably. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward” (1 Tim. 5:17-18).
7. Don’t compare your pastor to others. “Let no man glory in men… . whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas… . Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 3:21-4:3). “For whereas there is among you envying, and strife and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man” (1 Cor. 3:3-5).
8. Appreciate your pastor’s unique gifts from God. Paul was greatly used of God, but Paul did not have all gifts. Paul had an authority God gave him for edification, but there were those who judged him, by his appearance and speech, to be weak (2 Cor. 10:8-13). Look not for insignificant flaws, but observe special graces.
9. Do not think that your pastor can perform your spiritual ministries. Each believer has a divinely appointed place in the local body. The body is not a single member, but many. “If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an ear, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? (12:15-19).
10. Handle differences in a biblical fashion. Always show proper respect to your pastor and mutual respect toward fellow believers. Where there has been an offense, go and first be reconciled to a brother (Matt. 5:23-24). Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (7:12). Do not be the cause of an offense or misunderstanding.
|Warren Vanhetloo has A.B., B.D., Th.M., Th.D., and D.D. degrees. He served three pastorates in Michigan, taught 20 years at Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN), taught 23 years at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary (Lansdale, PA), and is listed as adjunct faculty at Calvary. Retired, he lives in Holland, Michigan. At the urging of fellow faculty and former students, he sends an email newsletter called “Cogitations” to those who request it. You may send e-mail to him at email@example.com.