Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In many Lutheran churches, there are a group of laymen called elders who aid the pastor in his ministry. Frankly, it is a bit odd to call these laymen elders. In the New Testament, the elders of the congregations are pastors.
According to the Bible, Christians should assemble with other Christians, and every Christian assembly needs a pastor. And Christians are expected to treat their pastors a certain way. First, they should give extra honor and respect to their pastors. Second, we are told in 1 Timothy 5:18 that Christians should pay their pastors for their work. Third, Paul knows that pastors will make enemies, and so he tells us to never admit a charge against a pastor, unless there are two or three witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19). In sum, you should respect and love your pastor, provide for him, and protect him.
Why? Pastors do important work. They oversee the ministry of the congregation. This means giving guidance and encouragement when needed, of course. It also includes leading the Divine Service—giving the Gifts of the Lord, and then leading the people in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. They preach the Word of God, applying the Law and the Gospel to us. They teach the Christian faith—milk to new converts and meat for the spiritually mature.
This is important work, indeed. Where the Word is preached, the Spirit works. The forgiveness of sins was won on the Cross, but gets distributed to individual sinners in the Church through the ministry of the Word. No ministry, no forgiveness. No ministers, no ministry. If you don’t respect and love your pastor and he gets burned out, or if he doesn’t get paid and must get another job, or if you allow false accusations to result in your pastor’s removal, then who will give you the Word?
Your pastor is a sinner, to be sure. He is also a wonderful gift. God placed him in your congregation so that you always have access to His Word. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty and gracious God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, You have commanded us to pray that You would send forth laborers into Your harvest. Of Your infinite mercy give us true teachers and ministers of Your Word who truly fulfill Your command and preach nothing contrary to Your holy Word. Grant that we, being warned, instructed, nurtured, comforted, and strengthened by Your holy Word, may do those things which are well pleasing to You and profitable for our salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
-Pastor Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.