Greetings fellow sheep! Since I know the under-shepherd I know you’ve been well taken care of lately. He’s been busy feeding us gourmet meals, leading us through both difficult and pleasant terrain, watching for our souls, and so much more. Because of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about our relationship to him and found a great passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 that talks about just that. It says,

“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. “

As church members we have three main responsibilities regarding our pastor based in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.

1.       Know him

2.       Esteem him very highly (value him, hold him in high regard)

3.       Love him

As I’ve pondered some ways to apply this passage I decided to ask some pastors how we can know, esteem highly, and love our pastor. Here’s what they said:

Love your Pastor’s family

As a pastor’s kid I can attest that when the pastor’s family is loved and taken care of, everybody wins. The pastor’s family is encouraged, the church members are blessed, and the pastor is loved and supported all because a church member showed love to the pastor’s family.

Pastor Mike Kinney said, “Faithful pastors pour their lives out for their sheep and their church.” Such a sacrifice can be difficult for the pastor’s family. Pastor Paul Chappell said, “Church leadership, in many ways, opens a man’s home to scrutiny.” Keep in mind the difficulties ministry can place on the pastor’s family and support them in prayer and encouragement. They need it and the pastor will be grateful.

Respect your Pastor

Pastor Jim Alter said, “Every time your pastor steps in the pulpit he bears the weight of your soul, of which he’ll give an account one day.” The pastor is laboring in the Word and in prayer all week long and the Bible gives clear direction that He is to be honored and esteemed highly for his works sake.

Some people seem to think that since it’s “our tithe money supporting him” that the pastor is to be treated more like the sheep dog than the under-shepherd. There shouldn’t be a line-up of sheep at the end of every service waiting to tell the pastor a thing or two about what he said or did or didn’t do. There shouldn’t be an hour’s worth of negative voicemails and emails waiting at his desk when he arrives to work on Monday morning. Are there issues to be dealt with? Sure there are, and we must deal with them in their proper way. But that gives no one the right to be disrespectful to the position God placed above them. Pastor Kevin Birdsong said, “Throw in a little mercy. His job isn’t easy.” Amen to that!

Pastor Chris Chadwick gave another practical way to respect our pastor. He said, “When he’s preaching believe what he says. You can check things out later if you have questions, but respect him enough to give him the benefit of the doubt while he’s preaching.” By the time a sermon is preached several hours of diligent study have gone into it. If something catches you off guard, be like the church members in Berea who “…received the word with all readiness of mind…” (they believed what they were being told was true), and “…searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” It’s biblical.

Be faithful to the Lord and the church

Weighing heavy on a pastor’s heart is the state of the flock. If you want to know, respect, and love your pastor, be in your place. Pastor shouldn’t have to wonder if you’re offended, missing-in-action, or just apathetic. If we sheep do our job it sure does make the under-shepherd’s life better.

Be supportive both verbally and actively

“Pastor, I’m in.” That’s the phrase many of us told Pastor on Vision Sunday. Won’t it be such an encouragement to Pastor when we get to introduce him to someone we’ve led to the Lord for the “Each One Reach One” campaign? Won’t Pastor be uplifted if, in six months or twelve months, we’ve been faithful to our ministries, faithful to the Lord, striving together? It’s one thing to speak and it’s another thing to do. James knew the difference and that’s why he encouraged us to be “hearers” and “doers” of the Word.

Write him a note of encouragement

It’s as simple as that. Almost every pastor I talked to mentioned that a note, text, or email of encouragement goes so far. Maybe there’s something to it.

Minister to your Minister

Pastor Franklin Humber said, “Pastors are always ministering, but when we’re ministered to it’s such a blessing.” Galatians 6:6 says,

Let him that is taught in the word (you and me) communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things (our pastor).

I don’t know so much that Pastor needs you to preach a sermon to him or provide unsolicited counseling. Let’s remember the point about esteeming him highly for his works sake. I do think the Bible is clear that we should give a little feedback. When Pastor opens the Word that is our source of truth and unpacks in about thirty minutes what’s taken him hours of specific study and years of preparatory work to attain, it’s appropriate to shake his hand after the service and let him know how God spoke to you from the message.

Dismiss and discourage negative feedback, gossip, rumors, and criticism

These are the things that keep pastors up at night. Whether church members are having issues among themselves or with the pastor, issues are issues and pastors hate these kinds of issues! When someone comes to you with a negative comment about the new Sunday School curriculum, or they want to share a juicy piece of information about another church member I encourage you to do what the Bible says:

2 Timothy 2:16 “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”

Matthew 18:15-16 “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”