A Perspective for People in the Pews (Part III of III)

We should not be passive participants in the work of the church as members, even when it comes to the sermon or the life of our pastor. He is meant to serve you, and you him. He is meant to teach you, but you are not therefore absolved from the commandment to make disciples.

“Five-billion people.” I answered, “There are five-billion people online right now, according to the latest data.”

I had been asked to come on the radio to talk about three news stories that stood out to me from the previous week. Two had come to mind easily, but for the third I decided to look for something encouraging; I wanted to find a story about a local pastor doing the work of the gospel or who was being celebrated for ministry faithfulness.

I searched everywhere.

I found nothing.

The “five-billion people online” statistic jumped out to me on my search, and so I decided I would use it to make a point. If there are that many people online, then a good deal of them must be Christian. So where are all the stories about tremendous pastors? I know they’re out there ready to be told! Yet, it doesn’t seem like anyone is telling them.

I finished the interview by saying something to the effect of, “I’d just love to use my time here to say how thankful I am for my pastor. He loves our church and loves God, and that might sound boring, but I think that is awesome.”

It wasn’t flashy, it wasn’t controversial, it was just true.

As much as I would love to see more people publicly praising their pastors, the work starts closer to home. In the first two installments of this series, I’ve talked about what a sermon is and how to get the most out of a sermon each Sunday, but in this article, I want to look at how and why we should encourage the man standing in the pulpit. How do we love our pastors well, submit to them, and encourage them? To be clear, this is an area we all need to grow in—myself included.

Be most known for encouragement. “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess. 5:12–13).

I make it a point to ensure everyone whom I love, knows that I love them. The words “I love you” hold a specific weight when spoken to my wife, but they aren’t reserved merely for her. Jesus taught us that people would know who we belong to and whose disciples we are if we “have love for one another” (John 13:35). It is, therefore, no surprise that this extends to our leaders. Pastor Jared C. Wilson has mentioned on several occasions that he never leaves the pulpit without expressing his love for the congregation.

If your pastor did this, would that expression of love be reciprocated?

My guess is that if you’re plugged into a local church, whatever differences you might have with your pastor, you do love him. Like a cheesy 90s rom-com, however, this love might go days, weeks, or years without being revealed, leading both parties to question its existence.

This commandment to love is accompanied by another that seems to be intrinsically linked to the first. “Esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.”

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