I recently wrote the article, “Elders and Deacons in Church Today.” I also have been studying (once again) the five-fold ministry and how it will interact with the modern-day church. To be fully transparent with you, I wrote an article on why we need to honor and obey our Shepherd/elders today and decided that it is probably too obvious why – (1 Tim. 5:17, Heb. 13:17, Gal. 6:6, 1 Thess. 5:12-13). Rather, I thought it be important to solicit different ways that can honestly honor your Pastors/overseers in your church. I can say with confidence that if the congregation honored their elders in the way marked below, you will have happy and sappy (yes, sappy) pastors and elders leading your church.
As we go through this together, I do want to challenge you in one key area: please understand that no shepherd, pastor, overseer or elder is perfect – if they were “perfect” they’d likely be starting to confess themselves as the Anti-Christ and lead you into an occult. Shepherds and overseers are human, and are in their position because God called them to it – not because they want to be ‘in charge.’ At least, I believe that of most – I personally have avoided being “in charge” often because I know that it isn’t easy nor is it fun. Being a leader in church and in the world (at the last several jobs I’ve had) I have come to realize that this isn’t what I want, rather it is what I’m called to do. Bare with me and others like me who are called, yet not perfected – we are trying to be complete and mature.
1 Timothy 5:17, "Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching."
Hebrews 13:17, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, "We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves."
#1 – Honor Them in Action Over Word
What it comes down to is supporting your Elders in action over words. I would rather someone help me naturally and support the ministries I believe in than tell me how great I am. Elders desire to equip the congregation to become doers of the Word and not merely hearers. To speak plainly, I am so glad you thought the sermon was great – but I want to see you apply it to your life, your marriage, your children, your relationships, your desire to serve, your character, your understanding, your behavior, ultimately- in your actions. Rather than admiring and saying it was a powerful sermon, let us each take a sermon to heart and allow it to change us from the inside-out.
#2 – Honor Them by Supporting them Financially
Scriptures: Gal. 6:6,1 Tim. 5:17, 1 Cor. 9:9-14, 2 Cor. 9:7-14
Giving money to a ministry means you believe in it, support it and honor it. I will tell you this: where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6:21). If you do not give to a ministry, then you do not believe in it - simple as that.
Also, in my study I found a list of ideas that are beyond your standard tithe and offering that show the beauty in alternative (additional) ways to honor your Elders:
- Writing them a kind, well-thought-out letter of appreciation
- Take them hunting, fishing, golfing, to a sports game, concert of movie
- Create a gift basket and rally the congregation to help
- Mow their lawn or wash their car
- Offer childcare and pay for the Pastor’s date
- Ask them how you can pray for them (this is amazing to be asked)
- Take them to lunch or pay for their coffee when meeting
- Bring them their favorite dessert or coffee
- Arrange and pay for a getaway for the Pastor and their spouse
- Bless them with a sabbatical (allowing an Elder a season of rest)
(Originally found on LIfeWay’s website under htttps://factsandtrends.net – 3 ways to Honor your Pastor)
#3 – Honor Them by Growing Spiritually
No pastor wants the congregation to remain the same year in and year out. No true elder desires an unchanged church. A true elder desires spiritual growth above all else. Admittedly, when you are with the same people year after year it is easy to not recognize spiritual growth because often it is so gradual. Other times, it is obviously not. Typical marks of someone in a season of exponential growth –
- Desire to serve
o Any time they can do something for someone, they want to do it
- Desire to be present
o Any time they can attend something or go beyond their typical obligations, they will
- Desire to understand the Church/Elders vision and culture
o They will take no prior knowledge for granted, they will be hungry for deeper understanding and new revelation of their purpose within the church
- Desire to pray and read the Bible
o No true growth isn’t found unless in God’s presence and His Word
I look at this short, simple four point list and cant help but think how ecstatic the elders would be for a congregation like this. There is no greater blessing or reward for an elder than when the congregation is growing and in deep pursuit of the Lord. I am reminded of Romans 1:12, where Paul is writing to the church in Rome and is excited to 'mutually' be encouraged. "that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." As a Pastor, there is absolutely nothing more encouraging then witnessing someone else on fire for the Lord. Sometimes, it is the only thing that can even keep us going - so be on fire for the Lord. It is such a good thing for you and everyone around you.
#4 Honor Them in Grace and Love
As I said at the beginning, no man is perfect. So no matter how great or wise your pastor/elders may be – they are only human. This is why, sometimes they are wrong. Sometimes, they respond in their emotion before consulting with God. Sometimes – but likely only sometimes. So be gracious, forgiving, understanding and loving in each situation.
Many times we don’t like what the pastor has for us (whether sermon, discernment or correction) – so we shut it down and assume the pastor is somehow “off spiritually.” The truth is, Pastors have one mandate from God and that is to watch after your soul – how daunting of a task! God would bring someone to a church and ask the elders to tend to their soul and watch over it for the Lord’s sake. Pastors do not take this request lightly – so typically, if a pastor is doing something that is difficult – it is not without prayer and support from other elders in the church.
Always be understanding, full of grace and love to all people – but especially your elders. They give everything they are to be an overseer to God’s church.
#5 – Honor Them by Trusting Them
This seems slightly redundant but still was so necessary to add. No pastor feels like a pastor if the congregation does not trust their wisdom, knowledge and discernment. Thankfully, I do not consider myself a scholar and to be a thought holder of “My way is the only way.” I constantly stress to our congregation, “If you know what you believe, why you believe it and can defend it scripturally, then we are good.” Nearly anything not Gospel related is secondary – and with that, I would love to have an honest conversation about theology and ensure they truly can support their stance.
Anyway, often times pastors/elders have to make judgement calls and offer discernment into a given situation. Usually a pastor is going to offer you some discernment based on prayer and petition with the Lord. After all, God entrusted them with your very spiritual well-being – I think we ought to trust them with it as well. Isn’t it funny that God entrusts us to a shepherd(s) on earth and yet we think we don’t need a shepherd(s) because we have God? Trust your shepherd and understand that God is a God of order. Typically, God wouldn’t be speaking to you something contrary to what He already spoke to the elders He placed over you.
In conclusion, we ought to always desire how to honor those around us - but especially the elders of the church that God has placed us with. God is taking me through a new scriptural journey on church. I am constantly refining myself and I pray if you made it this far - you are too. We value mirrors far more than stones, right?
Have you honored your pastor/elders in these ways?
What are some other positive ways to honor your elders?
Think on it,