October 20: “Instructions for a Church and It’s Pastor”

10 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Jeremiah 35:1–36:32
1 Timothy 5:1-25
Psalm 89:14-37
Proverbs 25:25-27

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

1 Timothy 5:17-20 (NLT): “Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.’ And in another place, ‘Those who work deserve their pay!’ Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others.”

Reflections from Scripture:

Since it is Pastor Appreciation Month, let’s consider a few verses regarding the guy who is the spiritual leader (Hebrews 13:17) of the church you attend. First the positive and then the negative.

In verses 17 and 18, we see that the pastor is to be financially compensated for performing his duties. The pastors who “do their work well” and “who work hard at both preaching and teaching” are said to “deserve their pay.” 

To see what the Lord had in mind when the Apostle Paul wrote this, simply look at the next verse. “For the Scripture says, ‘You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.’” 

Just as an ox is rewarded by allowing it to eat in the field in which it is working, and just as a laborer is rightly paid for the work he or she performs, so a pastor is rightly paid for his service.

But, if you notice back in verse 17, it says that the pastor “deserves their pay.” This points to the gravity of his task. He isn’t making widgets in a factory that will eventually rust and be thrown away. He isn’t fixing broken bones on a body that will eventually die. Instead, he is working with people who will stand before the Lord on the Day of Judgment. His task is to equip them for that day. With the seriousness of his task, he is worthy of whatever his church decides to compensate him.

Now, to the negative. If you look in the last two verses for today, you will see how serious he needs to take his walk with the Lord. He must be a man of integrity. If he isn’t, then it is clear that the church needs to take some action.

1 Timothy 5:19-20 (NLT): “Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others.”

If a pastor is alleged to have committed a sin big enough to be pointed out, there must be at least 2 or 3 witnesses before the matter is taken as fact. Why? Because among many other reasons, his God-given tasks will often get people angry. As he equips people for the Day of Judgment, he will repeatedly point out sin and call people to repentance. You can imagine that people don’t always respond well to this. So, there is sufficient reason to see that some people could make up false allegations about the pastor. Thus, there must be 2 or 3 witnesses before the allegation is taken as fact.

But, what happens if the pastor is legitimately in sin, confronted by folks concerned about his sin, and refuses to repent (acknowledge his sin and turn from it)? Then, he is to be rebuked publicly in a church setting. Why? So that the rest of the congregation may see that the church takes sin as seriously as God does.

While we love each other, we realize that our love demands that we call out sin in each other because it is robbing God of glory and is a cancer that will destroy the life of the one engaged in it. If the pastor is in unrepentant sin, he will send a clear message to his congregation that sin is tolerated in the church. The standard of holiness would be lowered, and God’s presence would depart.

While realizing that the pastor is far from perfect, it is essential that he is “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2).

So, from these verses, we realize that a church should compensate its pastor well and make sure that he is living up to the standard of godliness outlined in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-7).

Given the sinfulness of every single human heart, one of the best things you could possibly do for your pastor is to pray for him and his family. Pray particularly for their integrity. It could be that God would honor your prayers, keep your pastor near to His heart as he serves your congregation, and many people would be blessed by his ministry … because of your prayers.

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, this matter of church and pastors and holiness is serious business. This life is simply a fleeting vapor. Sooner than I realize, I will have stepped through death’s door. So, help me, Lord, to take my walk with You seriously and participate in a church that will help me grow in godliness and let go of sin in my life. I pray for my pastor as he leads our congregation toward a greater degree of Christlikeness. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.

Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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