Summary: Part 1 of several dynamics that will maximize and bless the ministry of church leaders. Respect your leaders, Love them, Get along with them and with one another, Take responsibility for one another, and let mercy triumph over vengeance when someone wrong
How to Get the Most out of Your Leaders
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 12 Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.
Intro: This is a rather strange passage for a pastor to preach to his congregation. It would seem more appropriate coming from some of you, or from a 3rd party. However, here we are. Let me just say that I am a very blessed pastor. God is leading us and we sense that our whole church really wants to reach out and make a difference in people’s lives. It is a privilege to serve here in Elgin!
-However, we can always grow and improve and become more effective in reaching our community with the good news about Jesus. And, the truth is, that somewhere down the road you will have different leaders who might go about things differently. While you certainly aren’t expected to agree with everything, I hope that you will hang on to some of the principles we find today from these verses. Because if you treat them the way Paul says, you will motivate them to be all they can be and do all they can do for the Lord and His church. And if you don’t follow Paul’s advice, you may find yourself working against everything the Lord is trying to accomplish in and through His church.
-Let me just say from the beginning that church leadership is not about being the boss or having the authority over everyone else. It is a position of servanthood and humility. Good leaders are good followers who are following the Lord’s call on their lives to reach a lost world through a thriving, healthy church! My plan today is to cover 5 of 11 dynamics that will maximize and bless the ministry of church leaders. Next week we will try to cover the rest of them. Let’s jump in! How can you get the most out of your church leaders?
1. Respect them (12)
-V.12 gives 3 identifying marks of church leaders. They work hard among God’s people, they are over God’s people as protectors (much like a shepherd watches over his sheep), and they admonish (warn or instruct) God’s people. So who is Paul talking about here? Ephesians 4:11-12 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
-Some scholars believe that acknowledging the leader is what best goes with this idea of respect. What would be the opposite of acknowledging someone? Simply ignoring what they say or do. Someone might say, “I’ll put up with that leader, but I don’t have to acknowledge them. I don’t have to do what they say. I don’t answer to them. I only answer to God.” I’m sure glad none of you do this, but you might be surprised how many people in other places have this kind of attitude toward leaders.
-We all have the need to be respected, but for men especially it is a felt need. Dr. Emerson Eggerich wrote a book called Love & Respect. It is geared primarily for married people, but the dynamics of love and respect also show up in other relationships. When there is a lack of love and respect it creates a vicious cycle of what feels like rejection. For example, if a pastor is seen as unloving and uncaring, then the people under his care might say something that would help reform him. And the pastor, being human, might not understand that they actually just want to feel loved and valued, and he interprets their reform efforts as a lack of respect. As a result, he might feel hurt, and might have even more trouble showing love and caring for those who seem to be opposing him.
-I really don’t think this is a stretch at all. In fact, I would venture to say that something similar has probably happened right here at CLC sometime in the past. Sometimes, a pastor will leave a church because he never seems to learn to speak the love language of the people, and he feels like he is not respected. So he looks for greener grass and the people look for a more loving pastor. Now I hope you know that I’m not addressing a problem here at CLC, but I think it is good for us to be aware of the dynamics of human relationships – even in our spiritual relationships. So, if you want to get the most out of your leaders, learn to speak the language of respect to them. And ladies, if you want to get your husband to turn away from the TV for a moment, just tell him how much you respect him. Be sincere though (don’t say it if you don’t really mean it and haven’t thought about why you respect him), because he will ask you reasons for the hope that is in you.