This week our church called a new pastor. We’ve been asking ourselves, “How does God want us to deal with our pastor?” God’s Word is not silent on these questions. Here are five commands concerning pastors:
- You must respect and love your pastor. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 says, “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.” Jesus commands us to love one another. But we are instructed here give special respect and love to ministers. This is doubly true when his preaching hits close to home. The word “admonish” in this text has the idea of warning or “putting sense into the heads of people.” We he “steps on your toes” you should love him even more!
- You must obey and submit to your pastor’s leadership. The idea of submission is not popular today. The bible does not set up the pastor as a religious dictator. But God has given a spiritual authority to the pastor to work for your benefit. Hebrews 13:17 clearly says, “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.” The pastor is keeping watch over your soul and must answer to God. He is under orders to labor for your salvation. God has placed the pastor as an authority in your life and expects you to follow his leadership.
- You must support your pastor financially. God says to share your financial blessings with your pastor. This is clear in 1 Timothy 5:17-18, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages."” This is true for you as an individual as well as the church. God expects you to give. At issue is not how much or what percentage you give. But since you share in the benefits of the preaching you are bound to share in the support of the preacher.
- You must not allow any secret accusations against your pastor. God commands us to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10) Even more, you must take special care when talking about your pastor. 1 Timothy 5:19 says, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” This text sets clear boundaries for talking about your pastor. Too often our little “opinions” or “concerns” about others are really accusations. There is zero room for negative talk about your pastor. Don’t say it. Don’t listen to it. Don’t repeat it. Confront and expose the person who said it. The issue here is secret talk. If you say something about your pastor that you would not say if he was in the room – then you are in sin. The same is true for listening. There are few things as hurtful to our church as unchecked gossip.
- You must be willing to confront your pastors when they sins. There may be a time when a pastor needs correction. No one is without sin in this life. God expects you to go one-on-one in these situations. But what happens if they refuse to repent? 1 Timothy 5:20 deals with that situation, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” No one is beyond restorative church discipline. The case here is for a pastor who “persists in sin.” The process of Matthew 18:15 has failed to bring repentance. Like any other believer the church must lovingly call them to back to Christ. This may be a time of great sorrow, but it is not optional. You are bound to confront your pastor if he persists in sin. This process never allows for gossip or even secret meetings. It must be done “in the presence of all.” As a believer you have the responsibility to confront your pastor when he sins.