Encourage Your Pastor
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 1 Timothy 5:17
Bishop, Elder, Pastor. Which one is the leader of your church? How about all three? Recently, as Dr Jeff Amsbaugh was preaching to our regional pastor fellowship in upstate New York, hosted by WBC, he pointed out the 3 synonymous terms in the Bible that refer to the “pastor” of the local church. As Baptist we prefer to use the term pastor, because of it’s connotation – I will share soon, but these other terms are good Bible terms that can give tremendous insight to the responsibilities and calling of the pastor.
Bishop. 1 Timothy 3:1 says, This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. The word “Bishop” means “inspection or superintendent.” While the pastor does not do all the work of any given church and ministry, he is to oversee or be the superintendent over all the ministry. With many others coming together to serve the Lord, the pastor gives the general direction and offers organizational helps to guide the church administratively. God is a God of order and Paul told the Corinthian church members in 1 Corinthians 14:40, Let all things be done decently and in order.
Elder. 1 Peter 5:1 declares, The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed… Elders means “older” or “senior.” It refers to the maturity of the individual leader. Church leaders are to be mature in the faith. While this does not mean the “he knows everything” it does mean that the foundational principles of Christianity are not new territory for him. That is why Peter exhorted the elders to continue in their wait for Jesus to come back for them. Keep going despite persecution or problems.
Pastor. Ephesians 4:11-13 elaborates, And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ… In fact the verse goes on to describe the gift the pastor is to the local church and the end result of his shepherding ministry. That is what a shepherd is. He feeds and leads his people like a shepherd cares for his sheep.
- Shepherds are concerned about spiritual growth in his sheep.
- Shepherds are cautious for wolves among the sheep.
- Shepherds are caring for the pain endured by the sheep.
- Shepherds cease any nipping and bickering among the sheep.
- Shepherds who are following the Great Shepherd (Jesus) attempt to get the sheep to keep their eyes on Him.
Baptist churches, like ours, prefer this term “pastor” because of the quality of care and the level of closeness a shepherd has with his sheep and the sheep for their shepherd. The model of the pastor being the “under shepherd” pointing people to the “Great Shepherd” is a good one to follow. Show extra honor to those who faithfully are serving you. The Lord will bless you, and him for it.
I commend the pastors (Bishops/Elders) that are faithfully serving the Lord and His people in the church. Like Paul, I commend the teaching/preaching pastor’s especially. Those who deliver Bible messages week in and week out and do not merely give lip-service to the Bible, but live it out as well, are to be encouraged and celebrated. Their unending work causes much personal tiredness and at the same time joy. Serving spiritual food to sheep can be a difficult thing sometimes. Pastors cannot make changes in the life of his people. The sheep must want to receive the Word for themselves. They must make application on their own. But the pastor keeps leading and feeding the flock.
Encourage your pastor today. Pray for him. Drop him a note. Leave a gift on his door. Text or email and encouraging word or two. Choose to know him as a person and choose to follow his lead. Show respect. Sheep who care for their shepherd in material things are sure to be prepared emotional, relationally, and spiritually to receive the spiritual teaching their pastor gives.