Today you should read: 1 Timothy 5:17-25
I have a friend who serves as a youth and young adult pastor at a church in my home town of Somerset, KY. He was having a conversation with one of the members of his church and she was complimenting the preaching. In mid conversation she very casually asked, “what do you guys do during the week?” Unfortunately, this is the attitude for many inside the church. I have to say that I am very thankful to serve at Center Point because I have felt nothing but appreciation from our people.
Paul is trying to warn or drive home the point that “elders who rule” (v.17) are laborers, especially those who preach and teach. This word for labor can also be translated “toil” and is from the Greek word kopiao which implies hard work that makes a person tired (ESV commentary). I have to say that before coming to know Jesus I, too, thought that the job of a preacher was an easy one. I grew up on a farm and the kind of back breaking work that I did had to be more difficult than the work of the pastor. Now that I have experienced what it is like to be on staff at a church I have a very different perspective. I may be more worn out at times in my current job than I have ever been on the farm. I think that there are a couple of reasons for that as described in this passage.
1. Leaders feel the weight of responsibility. (v. 17-18)
a. As overseers we have a responsibility to preach and teach the word of God faithfully. There is a lot of work involved in the study and construction of a message in order to feed the people of the church.
b. Elders have a responsibility to care for the people in our church. When people are in need or a crisis happens due to sin and suffering God has called the elders to oversee that the people are cared for properly.
c. Elders/Pastors have a responsibility to train up the “saints” of our churches to do the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
d. Elders have a responsibility to hear from God and lead the church well through making decisions for the church body (v. 17)
2. Leaders are held to a higher standard of accountability. (19-20)
a. Paul warns people not to be quick to pass judgment on an elder without evidence. However, if an elder persists in sin they are to be rebuked publicly in order to warn others. This judgment goes further than the standard of Matthew 18:15-20 that is for all believers. (Deut. 19:15-21).
b. Leaders are held to a higher standard on their teaching by God (James 3:1). This goes back to my point about being faithful to the scriptures.
The point of Paul’s writing in this passage is not to have men aspire to be leaders in order to get better pay or to be given double honor wherever they go. The point is for us to understand that the job of the overseer is a calling of God and requires much faithfulness for the good of the church. So, my hope is that we, as a church, would treat one another with grace and love and show respect for those that God has put over us because it is for our good. Also, for those of us who aspire to the office of overseer know that it is a good thing (1 Timothy 3:1). However, I challenge you to check you motives because the position of an elder has no room for pride or selfish gain.
Posted by:Chad Wiles