Scripture exhorts us to regard pastors and elders who rule well as worthy of double honor, especially those communicating God’s word every week.
“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).
The pastor doesn’t just give the message every week; he often is the first to visit if a congregation member is in the hospital. He calls congregants who have been absent to see if everything is fine. He has a vital role not just in preaching and teaching God’s word but also in supporting the spiritual growth of all the members.
How do I honor the pastor?
Desiring to obey the Scripture for God’s glory, members often want to honor their pastor. Quite a few have chosen to take their pastor out to dinner or give him a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant. But if you desire to be a bit more creative, what can be done?
You can find many great ideas at Christian bookstores such as lifeway.com, but lifting some of the burdens that pastors bear is a reward that will have lasting impact on him and his family.
Former pastor James Rutz, president of Megashift Ministries, shared his heart in his books, The Open Church and Megashift. He confirmed that pastors often see many of the tasks they do not as a part of their scriptural calling but as part of a symbiotic relationship that can border on co-dependency. Many pastors would like to see more lay people involved but are not sure how to involve them other than in the traditional roles of Sunday School teacher, choir member, organist, nursery attendant, or, in some churches, liturgist.
Small groups are one path to getting involved in a vital function while assisting in the spiritual growth of the church, and other leaders desire lay people to form bonds with each other; close friendships build the unity of the church. Rutz’s opinion is that there should be no designated leader in a small group other than the Holy Spirit, but the pastor or other elders may not be comfortable with this approach. Showing proper respect in this area will help build the church.
The primary focus of small groups is worship through obeying commands in scripture involving interaction. Bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another, build each other up, pray for one another, teach and admonish each other, and many others. Small groups may also have a particular focus such as evangelism or care for the poor. Both ministry to the body and outreach to the world are important. Pray for the pastor, encourage support for the ministries of the church, and work as a team to be a blessing to his family. Pastors and elders desire to have their flock grow both numerically and spiritually.
Be a disciple
Another way to lift the pastor’s burden and obey other scriptures at the same time is to learn to disciple and bring people to the Lord. Jesus said to go into the world and make disciples of all types of people, teaching them what he has taught us. (Matthew 28:19) It is often best done in a small group setting, even as small as one-on-one. Discipling an accountability partner may require being discipled oneself as well, but that is one of the advantages.
Discipling builds a relationship with others, both those more mature and those less mature, by being a part of a mentoring process. This also builds the connections in the church and gives a believer a responsibility that is rightfully his. Of course, this requires a commitment to both one’s own and others’ spiritual growth: prayer, personal Bible study, confession, and repentance, as well as fellowship, are all vital. There are many aids to both learning to witness and discipling including Evangelism Explosion and the Alpha Course.
Use gifts and talents
Using your gifts and talents is another way to assist the pastor. Some are gifted at graphic design, others in teaching and directing or in musical areas. These talents are given not simply to earn a living but to honor God. Often a congregation will want to have some form of banner or other art in the sanctuary as well. Those gifted artistically can decorate rooms, make banners or even design crafts for Sunday school. Gifts don’t have to be limited to these, either. Those blessed with a quick mind for numbers or who are good stewards of their own money may offer their services as deacons.
Though involvement takes thought and effort, it will greatly encourage both the clergy and laity and show true appreciation for the pastor.
Penni Bulten is a homeschooling mom who is fascinated with the Founding Fathers and their faith. She can be reached at [email protected].