And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. (I Thessalonians 5:12-13, NKJV)
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, so today we give honor to the men and women God has placed in our lives to guide us and care for our souls. First Thessalonians 5:13 tells us to “esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” Anyone who thinks pastoring means a little preaching on Sunday and a few handshakes as the congregation walks out the door has little understanding of the responsibilities and burdens carried on a pastor’s shoulders.
What does the Bible tell us about the role of our spiritual leader? Here are just a few of the scriptures that speak about the role of our pastor, our shepherd.
- Pastors provide spiritual food. “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15, ESV).
- Pastors watch for our souls. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17, NKJV)
- Pastors equip us for service. “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12, ESV).
- Pastors serve as our example. Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7, ESV).
Besides preaching the Word, pastors perform a multitude of functions from administrator to counselor—and sometimes handyman and janitor as well. They celebrate with us in our times of joy as they perform marriages, dedicate babies, and baptize our loved ones. They provide strength, encouragement, and comfort in times of sickness, trouble, and grief. They represent the church to our city and its leaders.
Pastors love our kids, pray for our unsaved loved ones, and rejoice in our blessings. They prayerfully navigate the church through times of uncertainty and conflict as well as growth and revival. They do all this and so much more, often at the expense of their own needs or spending time with their own family.
I do not want to navigate the complexities of our modern world without a godly pastor leading me and instilling God’s Word into my life. God ordained pastors to lead us, to protect us from false doctrine, and to correct us when necessary. We need our pastor!
Romans 10:14 questions, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (NKJV).
If you have not done so recently, tell your pastor how much you appreciate his dedication and sacrifice. Better still, put it in a letter or email so he can read it again during times of discouragement or difficulty. Support your shepherd with prayer. Support his vision. Speak well of him to others. Remember the words of I Timothy 5:17 and give him double honor.
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (ESV).