1 Timothy 5:17 KJV Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
As Paul is closing his letter to Timothy, her reminds him to teach the church how they are to take care of the pastor, or elder leader of the church. While there is a lot that can be said on that subject, I will leave that for others to do at this time since I am a pastor and would not want to come off as someone who is teaching on this subject for selfish reasons. Truth be told, my church takes care of my family very well, and for that I am grateful.
What I do want to briefly touch on the last part of the verse – especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. While I know it is somewhat “taboo” to say that pastoring is a job, it is a labor, as Paul mentioned. And so, as a pastor, I often ask myself, “How well am I laboring? Am I laboring in the best areas of the ministry, or am I sacrificing the best labor to take care of some good labors?” There is so much that happens within a church, even a smaller-sized church like ours. Many good responsibilities and ministries fall under the umbrella of the church, and too often those things fall into the lap of the pastor. But is that always right?
Remember what happened early on in the book of Acts (chapter 6) when there arose a contention inside the church about the perceived neglect of certain widows. What was the response of the leadership of the church? They cast a vote and added men to the “church staff” to take care of these areas so that they could continue to do the best thing – praying and studying the Word.
I often wonder how this same situation would have been handled in today’s modern church. Unfortunately, this happens a lot and the answer is usually something along the lines of, “Tell the preacher and let him take care of it.” We have lost, in some regards, the aspect that the ministry of the church is to be done by everyone, and not just a select few. There are many responsibilities in the church that would be better handled by others in order to free up the pastor to spend more time in prayer and Bible study.
The interesting thing about laboring in word, doctrine, and prayer is that it is something that will be unseen by the average church member. And because it is unseen, the pastor is often viewed as having “done nothing” all day and wasted away his time. I must admit that there have been days that I looked back on all that I had done and found myself a little underwhelmed because there was nothing “concrete” to show for it, i.e. a visit made in the home or hospital, etc. But just because your pastor is not in your home visiting you every other day does not mean that he is not busy in the Lord’s work. Unfortunately, we will often forsake the best work of the ministry because it is unseen, for the good work that can be seen and recognized by others. Think about how your church could be revitalized if:
- Your pastor had more time to pray and study uninterrupted
- Everyone had a part in the ministry of the church
Please don’t misunderstand this post as a pastor trying to get out of “work.” In truth, if you take some of the ministry responsibilities from your pastor and allow him to spend more time in his office, you have created more work for him. But it is the best work! That is why I chose the picture for this post that I did. I love the opportunity I have to study, pray, and help God’s people every week. I just think that more pastor’s out there might enjoy their church and pastorate more if they were allowed to focus on the best things while the church members took care of the good things.