Part 3 – Worthy of double honor | Expository advocating
Editors note: Read also part 1 and part 2 of this series Participate In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us that God gave to the church, among other things, “shepherds and teachers.” Shepherds and teachers is simply another way of saying “pastors.” Paul is saying that your pastor is actually a gift from God. He’s…
In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us that God gave to the church, among other things, “shepherds and teachers.” Shepherds and teachers is simply another way of saying “pastors.” Paul is saying that your pastor is actually a gift from God. He’s still a sinner, but he’s a gift. Notice that Paul tells us that God’s purpose in giving these pastors is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-13).
Does your church have the mentality that the pastor is there to be the professional and do the ministry and you are there simply to receive it week after week? That’s not how God arranged it. The pastor is indeed there to do ministry, but much of his ministry consists of equipping and building up God’s people to do ministry. As we noted above, nothing will give your pastor more joy than seeing you walk in the truth, and part of what that means is that you engage your heart and hands in the task of ministry. This isn’t simply to help your pastor do his job, it’s for the good of your soul and the health of the church.
Most of the New Testament’s epistles were written as letters to specific churches, where the many commands and exhortations to care for, comfort, encourage, forgive, honor, love and serve “one another” were not just abstract instructions. When people heard those letters read for the first time, they knew the actual people who were to receive their care, comfort, encouragement, forgiveness, honor, love and service.
They had pastors to preach and teach Scripture, to pray and to watch over their souls. But much of the horizontal person-to-person ministry was done by the church members. A church that lives like this is rare, precious. Too many view their pastors as professionals (and some pastors view themselves this way) and church members view themselves as consumers who come to church to get what they can from the church’s “products.” This might seem to be the more efficient way to do ministry, but this is not the way a body functions, and it isn’t the way church should be. The New Testament’s vision of church ministry is rare, but it’s been given to us by God, and the task of a New Testament church is to be faithful, not merely efficient.
Rather than improving the real fruitfulness of a church, this sort of arrangement actually augments the strain on and discouragement of the pastor. There are few things as encouraging to a pastor as seeing his people living as Christians and doing ministry.
There are all sorts of ways to participate in your church’s ministry. You could encourage other members, outdo others in showing honor, love others – especially those on the fringes, do evangelism, visit and encourage the elderly and homebound, meet in accountability with other members to encourage godliness, give financially, do missions, mentor someone younger in the faith, clean the church building, serve in children’s ministry, drive people to church who need rides, teach Sunday school and all sorts of other things.
Your pastor will be energized to keep at the task of equipping and building up the saints as he sees the members of the church acting like Christians, like people who love and follow Jesus.
This is just the beginning. Praying, preparing and participating are just three ways you can encourage your pastor, and there are many more.
As you support and advocate for your pastor like this, you will indeed be showing him the double honor of which Paul speaks, you’ll be esteeming him highly and you will be honoring God.
James M. Hamilton Jr. is associate professor of biblical theology at Southern Seminary. He has written and contributed to a number of works including What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible’s Story, Symbolism, and Patterns. You can read more by Hamilton at his blog Jimhamilton.info. Also, follow him on Twitter: @DrJimHamilton. This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Towers.
Matt Damico is an M.Div graduate of Southern Seminary and is currently serving as the pastor of worship at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. You can follow Matt on twitter at: @mattpdamico or at MattDamico.wordpress.com.