by Jane L. Fryar
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor,
especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
(1 Timothy 5:17 NIV®)
Pastor? Minister? Reverend? Father? What do you call the person to whom the Lord Jesus has entrusted your spiritual care?
No matter what title your church gives to those responsible for spiritual oversight, the task calls for a unique temperament. It requires a distinctive combination of spiritual insight, administrative skills, and leadership abilities. And, at times, it places extraordinary expectations and even unbearable burdens on pastors—and on their families.
Most pastors live in a fishbowl; people from both congregation and community watch—and often judge—every move they make. Perfect families. Perfect conduct. Stable personalities. A perpetually friendly demeanor. Members and nonmembers alike expect all this, and more. But human standards pale beside the standards Scripture sets:
An elder must live a blameless life. He must be faithful to his wife,
and his children must be believers who don't have a reputation for being wild or rebellious.
For an elder must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered;
he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money.
Rather, he must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must love what is good.
He must live wisely and be just. He must live a devout and disciplined life.
He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught;
then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching
and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.
(Titus 1:6–9 NLT)
Given all this, no wonder St. Paul urges us to give our pastors "double honor"! What a wonder that anyone consents to serve Christ as an "elder," a spiritual overseer! And how blessed we are that, in his deep love for us, our
Good Shepherd continues to appoint and uphold pastors—under-shepherds—for the good of his church on earth. He has promised:
I will give you shepherds after my own heart,
who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.
(Jeremiah 3:15 NIV®)
If we're honest with ourselves, we must admit we have not always honored, loved, and prayed for those who lead us "with knowledge and understanding." We all need our Lord's forgiveness for these failures. In addition, some of us need to take fence-mending steps with our pastor, face-to-face.
Then, confident of our heavenly Father's love and forgiveness in Christ Jesus, we can celebrate the pastoral leadership God has given to us. How would your Lord use you to make a difference in the life of your pastor throughout the coming year? Think and pray about that!
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