Praying For Pastors

Have you given any thought to encouraging your pastor?

Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:17-20


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? You’re doing all right today? Well, as I sit here before these microphones I have in mind many of you whom I know. We’ve met here and there, and I’ve placed you in my heart. And I walk up and down the halls of memory and look at your face and see your smile, and in some cases I weep for your burdens. We belong to each other, don’t we? I’m glad.

Yes, this is your friend, Bob Cook, and I’m back with you once again to look at 1 Timothy chapter 5. The last time we got together, Paul was making the point that the family should take care of the family first, and after that the church should feel responsible for those who are in real, underscored, real need.

That was the main thrust of that whole area from verse 3, right through verse 16. Now, he says, “Let the elders,” I’m looking at verse 17, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the Word and Doctrine; for the Scripture saith, ‘Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.'” And it also says, “The laborer is worthy of his reward.” “Against an elder receive not an accusation but before two or three witnesses; them that sin rebuke before all that others also may fear.”

Here you have a body of truth having to do with our attitude toward and our treatment of those who are pastors, bishops, leaders in the local church and in the work of the Lord. It starts in the beginning of the chapter, of course, we were there a few days ago, “Rebuke not an elder but entreat him as a father.” “Rebuke not,” that word rebuke, that Greek verb is used here, only here, the only place in the New Testament that that one Greek verb is used, as I find from Thayer’s lexicon.

And it literally means “beat up.” Now, I’m sure Paul didn’t have that in mind, but to beat upon with violent language, that’s the idea. Don’t jump on him, in other words. Make a speech in anger, it’ll be the finest speech you ever regret. The idea of jumping on a person and saying, “I’m gonna give him a piece of my mind, I’m gonna tell him!” Well, all right, suppose you do, then what? You may have relieved a little pressure within your own self, but you have left some scar tissue that won’t ever be removed. So don’t do it that way, says Paul, instead beseech him. That word “entreat” actually means “beseech” or “persuade,” as a father.

That’s the way that you approach differences. When you approach differences in leadership, you don’t jump on people, you beseech, you persuade, and that same verb I reminded you, you remember this? That same verb is the one that is rendered “comfort.” There needs to be an element of comfort in what you do and say regarding other people, especially those that are older than you in the Lord’s work. See, other people are hurting too; you may think you’ve got problems, but other people are hurting as well. And if your point of view can be changed a little, changed from how you feel to how they feel, you’d be surprised at the change in the atmosphere as a result.

A counselor friend of mine said that a young boy was sent to him as a ward of the court, and part of the decision of the judge was that His Honor had said this boy had to go and had to go for counseling to my particular friend, who is a believer. Well, the boy came in, he had to be there by order of the court, but oh, he was hostile. So they sat down and looked at each other and my friend said, “Well, you’re here ’cause you have to be here, I guess.” The boy said, “Yep.” He said, “And you don’t like it very well, I guess, either.” “Nope.” Well, he looked at him and he said ever so gently, “You know, I think if I were sitting where you are, I would feel exactly the way you do.” And that was the beginning of a thaw in the relationship, he said; by and by, that precious boy opened up and they became friends and the counselor was then able to help in the situation.

Other people are hurting too. Transfer the focus of your attention from how you feel to how the other person feels, and let him or her know that you understand. It’s a valuable insight; you wanna put it to work even today someplace. That was the first point, don’t jump on him, don’t jump on him- beseech him, persuade him, comfort him, help him, encourage him.

Then he said, the second thing is, reward him, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honors especially they who labor in the Word and in Doctrine.” The Brethren, a group that refuses to be called a denomination, but they certainly are a well-integrated group all over the world. The Plymouth Brethren and others of the Brethren, they don’t believe in paid ministers, but they do have what they call “laboring brethren,” whom they pay, a brother who will come to an assembly for a given period of time and teach the Bible and help in the work.

And that is a direct outgrowth of this particular verse, “They who labor in the Word and Doctrine.” And I said, reward him. If he does a good job, reward him. One of my pet peeves, I guess, through the years has been that in many a congregation, people look down upon the minister as being their servant and some kind of a second class citizen who ought not to be allowed to get too well-off. If he can be just a little shabby, a little seedy, a little down at the heels and at the same time do a good job, that’s what they like. [chuckle]

Well, I once had a deacon who always prayed about me. He said, “Lord, bless our servant.” [chuckle] And he treated me that way, bless his heart. [laughter] Well, what are you gonna do? What I did was keep right on preaching and working and trusting God to bless him. “No,” they said, “You ought to encourage this man by rewarding him,” man or woman, because both sexes are active in God’s work in these days. Especially, he said, “They who labor in the Word and Doctrine.” Never begrudge a visiting evangelist his offering. I’ve been in situations numbers of times where people got together at a local church level, looked at the offering and said, “That’s far too much. We’re gonna keep some of it.” And they did. Well, of course, that’s between them and their Lord. But the principle I’m giving you is never begrudge a servant of God the offering that the people give him. Because if he’s done a good job, it’s something you and I couldn’t do, it’s something God has enabled him to do, and we ought to reward him.

Now, let me talk to deacons and elders in local churches. Lots of you listen, I know. Let me talk with you for just a moment. Have you given any thought to encouraging your pastor in different ways? For example, did any of you ever take him out to lunch, just to bless him without having an ax to grind? Do you ever do anything special for him by way of, “Well, let’s do something real practical,” taking him out to the local clothing store and buying him a new overcoat. Just saying, “Come on, Pastor, I wanna take a walk with you,” and walk him on over to the store. Somebody did that to me one time. Elliot Stadelbauer up in Toronto did that for me, I’ll always remember. He said, “I gotta do an errand, you wanna go with me?” “Well, sure, I’ll go with you.” I was in the middle of meetings in Toronto. I’d come away without a coat that was adequate for the cold, cold weather that we were experiencing at that time. He said, “Come on, I have to do an errand or two.” And he drove over to a very prestigious men’s clothing store, walked in and after a few moments of chit-chat he said to the owner, “Do you think you have a coat that might fit my friend here?” The man said, yes, he thought he did.

He went over to the rack and pulled off, I remember how it looks still, it was a dark blue, all wool overcoat, a beautiful thing. And he said, “Try it on.” I tried it on, it fit perfectly just as though it had made for me. Elliot said, “All right, you put that on my account,” and he walked out with me. Well, I was flabbergasted. I said, “Elliot, what did you do that for?” He laughed, he said, “Oh, he owes me money anyway and that’s the only way I can collect it.” [chuckle] And he went on. Have you ever done something special for your servant of God? The man of God that is your pastor? Ever buy him anything? You ever go around look at the tires on his car to see if they’re worn? I’ll tell you, one of the nicest things you could do for some preachers would be just to say, “Could I borrow your car for an hour or two?” Take it on over to the tire store and put a new set of tires on. Oh, boy, that’d bless him to death. [chuckle]

What I’m saying is, there are lots of little things you can do that will encourage your pastor. Farm folk are wonderful about that. When I was a pastor in LaSalle, our broadcast is still heard by the dear people there, and they know how I appreciate them. When I was a pastor in LaSalle, Illinois, the farm people would always remember me when they butchered a hog, or when they had some special harvest during the summertime. They would come on into the back door of the parsonage and say, “Here, Preacher, I wanted to share this with you.” [chuckle] Oh, boy, that was great. I remember one time, one of the farmers brought me half of a hog. Can you city slickers understand what half a hog is? [laughter] I laid it out on the kitchen table, I didn’t know what to do next. Finally, I got a sharp butcher knife and began to cut it up and went over to the hardware store and got some big crocks and went and got some Morton smoke salt, and I put down the hams and the bacons by applying the smoke salt on and in the meat and put them in the crocks and put them out in the garage and then made some sausage and so on. Oh, man, we ate high for a while. [laughter] I must have gained 10 pounds. [chuckle]

Well, encourage your preacher, will you? Do something nice for him without wanting to sharpen your ax a little, without having any hidden agenda, without wanting anything from him. Just bless him a little, one way or another; do something tangible that will encourage him. I’ll tell you, he’ll preach better. For a little encouragement, that’s what Paul is saying here, “The elders that are laboring in God’s Word, let them be recognized, and counted worthy of double honor.” Then he gives us Scripture references, he says, “You don’t muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.” And, “The laborer is worthy of his reward.” I’ll finish that verse the next time we get together, okay?

Father God today, help us to encourage those who minister to us. I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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