Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Worthy Of Double Honor!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Worthy Of Double Honor!

Taking Care Of Your Pastor:
An Article For All Local Churches

Over the years, I have come to know thousands of Pastors. The overwhelming and vast majority of these men are deeply spiritual with real hearts for ministry and genuine love for the Lord Jesus Christ and for His “sheep.” They are men who have literally given away their lives in service to Jesus Christ as they gave of themselves moment-by-moment, day-by-day, week-by-week and year-by-year.

Many of them have spent their lives (as people spend money) working in obscure places trying to help people escape their own carnal appetites (and the carnal destinies of those appetites), often being resisted at every turn. In many cases, (more often then we would like to acknowledge), they have done so with little thanks and even less appreciation. Often congregants’ view them as intruders into their private affairs rather than the spiritual caretakers God has appointed them to be. They are often abused, mistreated, slandered, taken for granted, unappreciated and underpaid.

The central reason this aberrant behavior towards God’s men continues from generation to generation is due mainly to spiritual ignorance and hard-heartedness of the “saints” to what God’s Word says about the position of the Pastor and a congregation’s responsibility to that position.

God Called:Pastors are “called” by God to the work they do. That means they have a divinely appointed responsibility laid upon their shoulders. In most cases, they did not choose that responsibility and did not want it. When God calls, the wise and spiritual man simply obeys. When the eternal ramifications of the responsibility of this calling are taken into careful consideration it becomes overwhelming in its scope. Only the greatest fool would step into such a position of responsibility without an assurance of God’s calling, because a Pastor involves himself in a supernatural work requiring a special kind of supernatural enabling. Although it can be said that this is true of every Christian, it is specifically and particularly true of the Pastor. He will need a Mountain Top walk with God in order to do the work God calls him to do. There will be no room for spiritual mediocrity in the life of the man God calls to lead His people.

Spiritual Qualifications

1 This is a true saying, If a an desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house,
having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of
God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (I Timothy 3:1-7).

Obviously, the above verses of Scripture describe a very remarkable individual. These qualifications do not include being good-looking, charismatic or not having a sin nature. When Paul dealt with the problem of Pastor worship in the epistle to Corinth, he made this truth quite plain. God has chosen plain, ordinary men to accomplish extraordinary things through His enabling grace so that God will receive the glory and not men. Understanding that simple truth will move you out of the pits of ignorance that will cause you to constantly criticize the very weaknesses that qualified the man you call Pastor for God’s calling in the first place. Understanding that simple truth will help you understand the spiritual dynamic involved in God’s building and using the man He calls.

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence” (I Corinthians 1:26-29).

The word “bishop” is one of four words used to describe the work of the Pastor/Teacher. Each of these four words describes a different aspect of the responsibilities of this God-called man. The word “bishop” (“overseer,” 1 Peter 5:2) is from the Greek word episcope (episkoph, ep-is-kop-ay’). It denotes the function of an Overseer and relates to the administration of a Local Church (see Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and Phil. 1:1). This is what is meant by the term “rule over you” in Hebrews 13:7 and 17. It is extremely important that the Pastor is given freedom to administrate in that God will hold him accountable for any failures of obedience in the Local Church he administrates (13:17). (In some churches, deacons are viewed as administrators. This is foreign to both the Scriptures and New Testament practice.)

As the Administrator of a Local Church, the Pastor oversees every ministry of that Local Church. It is not that he is supposed to do all the work. He oversees it all, co-ordinates it all and makes sure it stays true to the Word of God and on track for Christ. However, in many cases, he does do it all. He is the Church Janitor, Carpenter, Electrician, Plummer and Painter. He shovels the snow in the winter and mows the grass in the summer. He usually does all of this without any consideration for compensation either because there is no one else to do it, or, there is no one else willing to do it.

1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (I Peter 5:1-4).

In I Peter 5:2, God tells us the pastoral ministry is “not by constraint.” Every congregant should recognize that the pastoral ministry is the result of the calling of God upon a particular man. It is not just a vocational choice. Because it is a calling of God, it must be done willingly and voluntarily. He cannot quit just because too much is expected of him or because people treat him poorly or refuse to follow his leadership. The Pastor must be fully persuaded in his mind that the pastoral ministry is God’s will for his life. I can guarantee you there will be times in his ministry when he questions that calling and struggles with it.

The second word used to describe the work the Pastor is called to do is the word “elder.” This comes from the Greek word presbuteros (presbuterov pres-boo’-ter-os). It refers to an individual with mature spiritual experience and the ability to apply the Word of God with wisdom (see Acts 14:23; 20:17; 1 Tim. 5:1 and 17; and Titus 1:5-7).

Among the Jews, at the time of Christ, presbuteros was used to refer to the members of the great council or Sanhedrin (because in early times the rulers of the people, judges, etc., were selected from elderly men). Education and experience are valuable commodities. When it comes to knowing what to do with people problems in a church, these two things are priceless (almost every problem in a Local Church has someone’s Name on it). For the wise and experienced Pastor, potential people problems stick out like a sore thumb and can be dealt with before they explode.

The third word used to describe the work he is called to do is the word “Pastor.” This can also be translated “Shepherd.” It comes from the Greek word poimaino (poimainw, poy-mah’-ee-no) and it refers to a guardian or protector (see John 10:11 and I Peter 2:25). When Peter says, “feed the flock” (1 Peter 5:2), he is describing the role of pastoral care. Pastors do not have an 8-hour-a-day, 9 to 5, work schedule. They are on duty 24/7. They live, eat and breathe ministry. They constantly think about and pray for the people under their care. They often know the strengths and weaknesses of individual church members better then those individuals themselves. I have known many Pastors who were awakened by concern in the middle of the night to pray for some “sheep” struggling with some sin in his life or who is going through some trial or struggle.

The fourth word used to describe the work the Pastor is called to do is the word “teacher.” This is from the Greek word didaskalos (didaskalov did-as’-kal-os). It is used in conjunction with the Pastoral ministry (I Timothy 2:7; II Timothy 1:1). Teaching was what Christ admonished Peter to do when He said to him “feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). It is used in the sense of discipleship by teaching people the Word of God in order for them to grow spiritually (see Matthew 28:20). The method that God ordained for this teaching ministry was preaching (see I Corinthians 1:21). As a result of this, the teacher also came to be known as a preacher (khrussw; kerusso, kay-roos’-so, see Rom. 1:15-16; 10:14-15; and 1 Tim. 2:7).

Most Pastors prepare three sermons and one Sunday school lesson each week. This can amount to anywhere from 20 to 30 hours of study and preparation each week. Add to this the time needed for prayer, visitation and soul winning and there is little time for anything else.

What is such a person worth?

The kind of person described in the above qualifications is a rare commodity. In the case of every other commodity in this world, rarity increases the value exponentially. This is certainly true according to the declaration of God.

17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward” (I Timothy 5:17-18).

The word “honour” in I Timothy 5:17 is from the Greek word time (timh, tee-may’). It is obvious from the context that God is not talking about praise or respect. He is talking about material remuneration. The Greek word refers to “the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold.” Let me make a suggestion to how that might apply in a very practical sense. Take the average income of the members of your congregation and “double” that amount. That is the amount that God says a faithful Pastor is worth in the sense of material remuneration (his ministry is actually priceless).

The word of God tells us that one of the qualifications of a Pastor is that he cannot be “greedy of filthy lucre.” Again, in the vast majority of the men I know, this is certainly a true description of their character. This quality is also the central reason they are often taken advantage of.

Although Pastors are often the lowest paid people in their congregations, they are often the biggest givers. The financial structuring of a church often obscures their giving. Because the church budget requires that the bills be paid before anything else, the Pastor’s salary (better term: remuneration or support) is usually at the bottom of priorities. In other words, he gets what is left over. In actuality, what has just happened in that scenario? The support money that should have gone to the Pastor (and really belongs to him, I Corinthians 9:9) is used to pay church bills. According to that scenario, who really pays these bills?

I am also amazed at the generosity of local churches to missions when in many cases those same churches do not adequately support their Pastor. Many Pastors in rural areas work 40 to 50 hours a week doing the work of a Pastor and another secular, fulltime job to support their families. Where does the money to support a missionary really come from? I cannot understand why people are so blind to this reality. They just take what belongs to the Pastor and his family and give it to someone else.

Yes, missionaries need support too, but don’t force the Pastor and his family to sacrifice so your church can say you support missions. The fact is you don’t. Your pastor does. In many cases, he also pays the heating bills, the insurance bills, the electric bills and often the Church building and the parsonage mortgage. The money that should be going to support him is going to those needs. He understands that and is willing to make those sacrifices to keep a ministry in the black, but congregations need to understand who is really giving to provide for those needs. It is the Pastor!

What About A Parsonage?

A parsonage can provide considerable savings to a church and to a Pastor. Unfortunately there are considerable abuses in the use of parsonages as this practice relates to the Pastor. Usually a Parsonage is provided to the Pastor and his family and his salary is reduced by the amount he would normally pay for renting a similar home. Because of tax laws, the Pastor does not have to pay Income Tax on that amount of His salary (although he does have to pay Social Security on that amount if he has not opted out).

Because a Church is tax exempt, it is not required to pay Property Tax. This can be a savings of anywhere from $1,500.00 to $4,000 each year. However, the savings is to the Church, not the Pastor. Secondly, the Pastor is not gaining any equity in the amount he is paying for that home (he is paying for it, it is just that the amount is taken out of his salary). These tax perks do free up some funds. However, those funds should be passed on to the Pastor in the form of an IRA or Retirement Fund. This should equal the amount each year that he would normally gain in equity if he were paying on his own home.

Another abuse is the maintenance of the parsonage. Since the parsonage belongs to the Church, it is their responsibility to maintain it. That means painting it (interior and exterior) every four or five years, new carpet and floor coverings every ten years, hot water heaters, furnace and air conditioning maintenance, appliances and a hundred other items too numerous to mention. Do not make your Pastor come to the congregation every time something needs to be done. Build these needs into the budget and put the funds into an escrow account to be used as needed (and PLEASE, within reason, let the Pastor’s wife decorate the house she has to live in!). If the Pastor wants to live in his own home, that should be his decision. Do all you can as a Church to make that possible.

He Is Not A Hireling!

12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep” (John 10:12-13).

If you do not want your Pastor to act like a “hireling,” do not treat him like one. I had a Deacon say to me once, “We hired you and we can fire you.” Another Deacon, who was questioned about why he never came out for visitation night, was overheard telling someone, “I don’t know why I have to do that. I thought that is what we hired the Pastor for.” That is the “hireling” mentality that permeates our churches. It is absolutely destructive.

According to Ephesians 4:11-12, the Pastor/Teacher is God’s gift to your Local Church to equip and train (“perfect”) you (“the saints”) to do the “work of the ministry.” Like a good parent, his success is measured by your ability to be able to live and work independent of his constant care. Your spiritual maturity will manifest itself through the fleshing out of Christ in your life. Your life will become a distribution center for ministry and evangelism. If ministry and soul winning do not regularly and habitually take place apart from your Pastor, your Local Church is destined for a slow and painful death.

Should Pastors Be Poor?

According to the pattern of the Law for the Old Testament Priesthood, the answer would certainly be in the negative. It is quite obvious that the Levites were the wealthiest of all the tribes of Israel. The “tithe” belonged to the Levites as a substitute for giving up their claim to a portion of land. The “tithe” was their “inheritance.”

20 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. 21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. 22 Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. 23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. 24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance” (Numbers 18:20-24).

They were required to offer a “heave offering” (a “tithe”) to the Lord from the tenth they received from all the other tribes. They were the smallest tribe (they were not to be numbered, Numbers 1:47-49). However, according to their divisions in 1 Chronicles 23:1-5, there was 38,000 of them over the age of 33 at this time, probably about 1017 B.C. According to Numbers 1:23-46, about 470 years earlier, other than the tribes of Manasseh (32,200) and Benjamin (35,400), the Levites would have been the smallest by far (although we must take into consideration that they did not go to war, however large numbers were often slaughtered during conquests).

Yet the Levites received the largest material remuneration. The land was divided between the other twelve tribes (the tribe of Joseph was divided into two, Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s two sons). The Levites received a full “tithe” from all the other twelve tribes.

None of these “tithes” were used to build the Tabernacle in the Wilderness or the Temple in Jerusalem, or to maintain those structures. These things were provided for by “free will offerings” (Exodus 36:3-7). The transitory dispensational truth here is that the “tithe” really belongs to those that serve the Temple. The New Testament equivalent would be Pastors and Missionaries. The Pastor is the first Missions responsibility of any congregation. Until he is adequately provided for, other Missionaries should not be added.

(COL) Cost Of Living Increases

Recently the Cost of Living Increases calculated for Social Security and SSI benefits was 2.6 percent. The year before it was 3.5 percent. These are national averages. If you live in a metropolitan area, these percentages can be considerably higher.

This means if your Pastor’s salary package did not increase by 6.1% over the last two years, the purchasing power of his salary has decreased by that amount. In other words, the dollar that was worth a dollar two years ago is only worth 93.9 cents today. In that case, your Pastor has actually taken a decrease in pay. COL should be an automatic salary adjustment each year. It is not a “raise.” It simply keeps his salary at the same level it was the year before. “Raises” in salary should be considered on and above this amount.

“Remember” Him

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation [manner of life]” (Hebrews 13:7).

The first word of Hebrews 13:7 sets the tone of the admonishment to God’s people in regard to Pastoral authority and leadership. It is the word “remember.” It is from the Greek word mnemoneuo (mnhmoneuw, mnay-mon-yoo’-o). It means to be constantly aware of the Pastor, to think of and feel for him. It means to “keep him in mind.” Interestingly it is in the imperative mood, which means it expresses a command to the hearer to perform a certain action by order and authority of the one commanding (here that Person is God). Therefore, the word “remember” carries the weight of an absolute command of God requiring full obedience by the believer. It means to be constantly aware of the divinely ordained authority of the Pastor, with the idea of being sympathetic and submissive to that authority, and following his leadership.

“Remember” little things. Remember his birthday and his wife’s birthday. Remember their anniversary. Remember to send him a note of encouragement occasionally. Remember to invite him and his wife over for an evening of games and fun. Remember he needs a vacation and time to go to spiritual conferences to be refreshed and challenged. Make provision for that in both time and money.

Remember, although it is his responsibility to teach you truth, it is your responsibility to learn. Remember that he too is a growing spiritual organism. Remember he struggles with the same things you struggle with. Remember to forgive him when he fails. Remember to pray for him, care for him and love him. He is God’s gift to you. Be thankful for him. If you love him, show that to him in tangible, practical ways. You may know you love him and appreciate his ministry. Make sure he knows you do.

In many churches the idea of giving a pastor the leadership control of a local church is a thing of the past. There is little understanding of what the word of God teaches about pastoral leadership and his authority in the church. Because of this lack of understanding by congregations, many pastors end up struggling with deacon boards or some group in the church to gain leadership. It is a struggle where nobody wins and everybody loses, especially the cause of Christ. It is absolutely essential that what the Bible teaches about the Pastor’s position in a local church is established in your life so you will know what God says about the matter and what authority is given to the pastor by the Lord.

A major mistake commonly made regards the Pastor’s calling. Many local churches mistakenly believe they call a pastor. That is not true. God calls pastors to a ministry. A congregation’s vote is not an election of a pastor. A congregation’s vote is to confirm their belief that God has called a particular pastor to lead them. Congregational Polity presumes that the majority of a congregation will make spiritual decisions as led by the Spirit of God and will “vote” the mind of Christ.

Once God’s call upon a pastor is confirmed by the vote of a congregation, the leadership of that local church is to be turned over to that pastor’s direction. As he spends some time in a locality, God will reveal to him the direction and changes that need to be made to move that local congregation forward in its spiritual growth and service to the Lord. As long as the pastor is not doing anything unscriptural, to resist the him is to resist the Lord.

“Them which have the rule” is translated from the Greek word hegeomai (hayg-eh'-om-ahee). Its meaning centers in on the word “rule.” It refers to leadership or overseer authority, in this case a divinely appointed one. In the calling of a pastor to a local church, Jesus transposes His headship over that congregation to the pastor. This word is in the Participate Mood, which means it is used as a verbal noun. That means this word defines the pastor’s position and authority over a local congregation.

I Peter 5:1-4 further defines the role of a pastor in a local church.

1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (I Peter 5:1-4).

In I Peter 5:1, the word “elders” is from the Greek word presbuteros (pres-boo'-ter-os). It was a word used of those who in separate cities managed public affairs and administered justice. Among the early Christians it was used to describe those who presided over local assemblies of belivers. The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably. The term “elder” ascribes mature spiritual experience and understanding to an individual. In this context, what they are is also who they are.

In I Peter 5:2, the words “feed the flock” gives us part of God’s job description for His pastors. The Pastor (poimen) is God‘s appointed guardian or protector over God’s local flock. In the old testament the strength of a house was dependant upon the strength of it’s leader. Jesus is the “Chief Shepherd” (archipoimen; ar-khee-poy'-mane). He is the only authority higher then the pastor.

In I Peter 5:2, once a pastor is called to be the Shepherd of a local church, he is commanded to “take the oversight” of that local congregation. “Oversight” is from the Greek word episkopeo (ep-ee-skop-eh'-o). This is the bishopric function of the Pastor. He oversees, or administrates the church. He oversees every ministry of the church. He doesn’t do all the work. He oversees it all and co-ordinates it all. He makes sure it stays true to the word and on track for Christ.

A local congregation is not administrated by a church “board” or a “Board of Deacons.” The pastor is not the churchs “hireling” who is supposed to do all of the spiritual work of the church. He is not called of God to do all the praying, or all the yard work, or all the painting or all the soul winning or all the visitation. He is called to “perfect the saints for the work of the ministry.” In other words, he is called of God to train the congregation he leads to do those all those things.

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 5:4-11-12).

According to I Peter 5:2, the pastor‘s ministry should not be “by constraint.” It is not something a man should be forced into or compelled by another person to do. It is not a vocational choice. It is a calling of God. Therefore it must be done willing and voluntarily. Every congregation needs to regularly be reminded that their pastor is there because God has compelled him to be there. Once he is fully persuaded in his mind that this is God’s will for him, he cannot leave that position regardless of how poorly he is treated, how carelessly he is compensated or how miserably his people follow his leadership.

A pastor does not serve a congregation “for filthy lucre’s sake.” He is not in the pastorate merely for material gain or for power and position. That often means that congregations do not take adequate financial care of their pastor. A congregation should never ask a pastor to make sacrifices they are not willing to make. When a church cannot pay its bills, the first bill usually not paid is the pastor’s support. Most churches are built upon the faith of pastors who live so sacrificially that if most of the members of their congregations were force to live on the same amounts, they would be on welfare.

Hebrews 13:7-17 is talking about congregational responsibility and accountability to their pastor. First, “remember” means you are to be constantly aware of the Pastor’s authority and be sympathetic and submissive to that authority. The pastor on the other hand is to be careful that this does not go to his head and he is to be extremely careful not to take advantage of people because of it. He is to lead, not Lord.

Secondly the ruling force of the church is the Word of God (Hebrews 13:7)

17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward” (I Timothy 5:17-18).

The Pastor is supposed to labor in learning it and teaching it. Deacons and congregations are to do the work of the ministry so that the Pastor will have time to “labour” in the Word.

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