By Steven Mock
Are you concerned that your pastor might have the worst job in the world? Probably not if you expect him to work an unreasonable number of hours throughout the week and if you never express heart-felt, specific appreciation for your pastor.
So what can you do to be a blessing to your pastor and make his job easier? I have already suggested two solutions that God can use to prevent your pastor from having the worst job in the world: love your pastor and pray for him. Now let me suggest a third: serve your pastor.
1 Timothy 5:17-19 “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.”
This passage tells you to serve your pastor in two ways, by honouring him and defending him.
Here we see that your pastor, as an elder, is responsible to rule well and labour in the word and teaching. Ruling well refers to your pastor’s authority and how he administrates the business of the church. God has given pastors authority to make decisions regarding the church. This authority is not absolute or final, like a wannabe Pope, but it is God given.
Your pastor is also called to labour in the word and in teaching. Just because your pastor shows up on Sundays without calloused hands or a sore back does not mean he hasn’t worked hard during the week. The work a pastor does is exhausting mentally (as he studies), emotionally (as he counsels), and spiritually (as he prays and fights the good fight of faith). And I don’t know about your pastor, but I often come to the end of a Sunday physically exhausted as I’ve tried to communicate God’s truth with all of my might and soul.
But notice you are commanded to honour your pastor. Perhaps you’ve heard of the word “honorarium”? It usually refers to a gift of money that is often given to a visiting preacher. In other words, if you are going to serve your pastor by “honouring” him, you are going to have to give him money! We know this word refers to money because of how verse 18 further describes it: food for the working beast (that’s not calling your pastor a dumb ox!) and reward or pay for the worker.
This does not mean that your pastor loves money or that he is doing his job “for the money.” But it does mean that if he is going to live (have shelter, food, transport, and clothes) and serve you as a full-time pastor, someone is going to have to pay him money.
How much money would it take for you to honour your pastor? This question is answered in many different ways. Usually the most generous way a church seeks to do this is to take the average of everyone’s income in the church and use that amount as the pastor’s salary. Unfortunately, many churches pay far less than the average and assuage their conscience with the fact that the Australian government will make up any difference. But look at verse 17 again. You are commanded to honour your pastor doubly! Now that’s an idea!
In verse 19 you are commanded to serve your pastor by defending him. Maybe you’ve heard of people in church having pastor for roast at Sunday dinner? But you could never figure out what they meant because you knew that your pastor didn’t even like roast beef. And then you realized that it was the pastor who was getting roasted (not the beef)–and guess what, he wasn’t present to hear it!
Many churches are filled with people who seem to have nothing better to do than to gossip about and criticise their pastor. It’s as if your pastor could do nothing right. What would happen if the next time this kind of situation arose, instead of adding your “two cents” worth of anecdote or quietly biting your lip, you spoke out against those ridiculing your pastor and announced you would believe none of it until there were witnesses to confirm it? How good would it be if your church were filled with people who defended their pastor against every kind of foolish talk and slander? Do you think that would encourage your pastor? I do.
The last thing your pastor needs to be concerned with this week is whether or not he will have enough money to fix his over-the-hill people-mover or who is currently undermining his ministry with the latest bad-opinion polls. I pray God will use you to serve your pastor by honouring him (with money) and defending him this week.
Steven Mock is currently pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Cairns, Australia. Steven and his wife, Cristy, moved to Cairns in July 2003. The Mocks have two children and one on the way.