Esteem Them for the Work's Sake
A good friend of mine preached a few week's ago where he pastors on a theme that is challenging to preach on; namely, why a congregation ought to highly esteem their pastor. There's obvious reasons this could be awkward, or worse, done heavy-handedly. I so richly profited from this sermon on 1 Thess. 5:13, and thought it was worth sharing a snippet with you (Spare two minutes and read this):
"God has decreed, has said, through Paul, that the pastor is to be esteemed highly. But notice what he says. The reason given for esteeming the pastor is this; "...to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake."
It is because of the One we preach that this is to be done. You are to esteem your pastor very highly in love not because he's become your personal friend, or not because he has a better education than someone else, or because he's a good preacher, or because he's your fishing and hunting buddy. You're not to esteem him because he's successful--whatever that means in the world's definition today. You're not to esteem him because he has a nice pleasant personality, or because he has a wonderful wife and children, or because he's popular. None of that's important.
You are to esteem them highly, "for the work's sake." For what they do, not because of who they are.
The worth of the pastor, the value of the pastor, the reason the pastor is to be esteemed is because of the Christ he preaches. That is why. If that pastor is preaching Christ Jesus, and Him crucified, He is to be esteemed. And I fear for a church, or an individual, to place little esteem on the pastor, might be a reflection of the fact they are placing little esteem on Christ. I fear that oftentimes.
I don't care if the pastor doesn't know the difference between a verb and a noun, if he's preaching Christ Jesus he's to be esteemed. I don't care if he can't tell the difference between an adverb and a compound-fraction, he's to be esteemed if he's preaching Christ Jesus. I don't care if he doesn't understand past-tense from future-tense from present-tense. I don't care if he butchers the King's English, if he's preaching Christ Jesus and Him crucified, he's to be esteemed.
He may be the homeliest looking fella you've ever laid eyes on. He may have little or much education, but none of that is important if he's preaching Christ Jesus, and Christ Jesus alone, he is to be esteemed.
Some might respond, 'But brother Jerry, I don't like you.' Hey, I don't like myself at times...that's not the issue.
The point is not do you like your pastor, the point is do you like the Christ your pastor preaches? That's the point.
It is no coincidence that those who highly esteem Christ almost always highly esteem their pastor. They may not always agree with him. You can disagree and be polite and respectful, and still esteem the pastor.
Again, the important thing is not do you esteem him because of who he is, but do you esteem him because of what he does. That is because of the Christ he preaches?"
** Thank you Bro. Jerry Goodwin (pastor of Worden Baptist Church, Bald Knob, AR) for this instruction!