Paul’s Final Advice
Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 NLT
There is a fine line between putting people on a pedestal and honoring what they do for the Lord. We must be careful that we don’t idolise people because they may be talented and gifted. We don’t idolise people because they have winsome personalities. We don’t idolise them because of their position in life or wealth. We don’t idolise them because of their successes in the world. We don’t value them higher than others and make them out to be favoured citizens of heaven. However, we do need to honor those who are leaders in the Lord’s work.
We should respect their role in the church. God prepares and puts into place leaders in the church. They are given the responsibility to preach and teach the Word. They are responsible for spurring others on to greater faith and godliness. They are responsible for the spiritual well-being of those whom they serve. They have to answer to God for what they do.
We should respect what they say to us. Godly leaders warn us of not only what is to come, but what happens to us now when we reject the Lord or His Word. They warn us that sin has consequences and no one can escape them. We need to pay attention to what they say to us and strive to put into practice what we hear.
We should think highly of them and intentionally love them and pray for them. It is so easy to criticise those in leadership. They are vulnerable to being criticised and judged for their failures. They are expected to be better than we are and to meet all of our expectations. They are easy targets to blame when things don’t go the way we think they should.
What we should do is be supportive of those who lead in a godly way. We should appreciate what they are doing for the Lord. We should come alongside of them and stand with them. We should encourage them and support them in their efforts. As long as leaders are doing the best they can do in their service to the Lord, we should be on their side and not against them.
We should honor them by adequately supporting them in the work they do. Support comes in a wide variety of ways: financially being fair to them, being kind to them, being positive, encouraging them, etc. We must never forget that they are human just like we are and their need for being treated with decency and affirmation is just as important to them as it is to us. We should as well treat their families in the same way we want our families to be treated.
We should always strive to live in peace with not only our leaders, but every one of faith. Internal conflict within the family of God is always wrong and should not be allowed to continue.
- Jim Hughes