Although most of you who read this blog already know that October is pastor appreciation month; how many of your church members really know or care? I am hoping that God will use this post to change that both for your benefit and theirs.
Scripture is clear about the importance of showing honor to our pastors. Unfortunately, pastors often have the awkward job of equipping their members to do so. I want to suggest four ways churches can honor our pastors, and encourage you to forward this post to your leaders.
1. WE HONOR OUR PASTORS BY SUPPORTING THEM
The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and, the worker is worthy of his wages (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
“Ample honorarium” (aka: double honor) is a term that Paul only used here, and reserved it for those who served the church as pastors/elders/overseers.
God’s people should pay their pastors generously, although no specific amount is given. Of course it is not God’s plan for pastors to fleece their sheep or for churches to neglect their pastors. The personnel committee at our church benchmarks staff salaries with two national surveys: The Southern Baptist Convention Compensation Study by Guidestone Financial Resources, LifeWay and Baptist state conventions (12,000 respondents from all 42 state conventions); GROUP resources publishes their study bi-annually.
All pastors are to be honored, but two kinds of pastors are worthy of “double honor” (v.17):
- “The elders who are good leaders.”
- “Those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”
Pastors are not more important than the other members of God’s household; however, they are the human leaders of it. The pastor’s job is to take care of his church, and it is the church’s job to take care of their pastors.
Those who proclaim the gospel should make their living by the gospel (1 Cor. 9:14).
The one who is taught the message must share all his good things with the teacher (Galatians 6:6).
2. WE HONOR OUR PASTORS BY DEFENDING THEM
A non-negotiable qualification for an elder is that he must have a good reputation with outsiders (1 Timothy 3:7). Apparently, several church leaders attacked the Apostle Paul’s reputation, and my stomach turns when I read his final written words:
Alexander the coppersmith did great harm to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works. Watch out for him yourself because he strongly opposed our words. At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the proclamation might be fully made through me and all the Gentiles might hear (2 Timothy 4:14–17).
It is the church member’s job to not only provide for their pastors, but to also protect them from the Alexanders in your church and community. Joseph, Moses, David, Jeremiah, and Nehemiah were also criticized publically. It is not enough to defend our pastors privately. It is each of our job to make sure that our pastors are not treated like a floor-mat or punching bag.
Hell’s hit list has 400,000 pastors on it. Join me in defending our pastors against accusers, whether human or demonic.
3. WE HONOR OUR PASTORS BY RECOGNIZING THEM
Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you (1 Thessalonians 5:12).
I have told pastors for years that if you do the best you can, the church will do the best that they can to take care of you. Honestly, that has been the case most, but not all of the time. Sometimes the pastors did not do the best they could, while the church did. Other times, the pastors did the best they could and the church did not step up. Why is that? Because we are a family – and families make mistakes.
It seems to take less effort to point out someone’s weaknesses than their strengths. Join me in recognizing our spiritual leaders this month in a public way.
4. WE HONOR OUR PASTORS BY LOVING THEM
His job is to “keep watch over you” (Heb 13:17), but sometimes he needs you to watch over him as well. Whether they are leading successfully or failing miserably, in season and out of season, they all need the respect and love of their church families.
Regard them very highly in love because of their work (1 Thessalonians 5:13).
Make sure your pastor knows that he is a beloved member of your church family, and not just an employee who will eventually go somewhere else. Join me in pouring into our pastors who have so generously poured into us.
It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel. For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:7–8).