The What & Why of Honoring Church Leaders for Unity’s Sake

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

So Paul, the apostle, exhorts in Rom. 12:10.

A gospel-shaped life (Rom.1-11) demonstrates itself in a variety of manifestations of love-in this case competitive honor-showing.

I have argued in my previous three posts that this must especially be true in the way followers treat their leaders in the local church.

We will struggle to enjoy ongoing unity in the body of Christ failing to cultivate such a virtue.

In 1 Thess. 5:12-13 Paul details four aspects of the nature of a shepherd’s work which warrant extra attention in the way of honor and esteem on the part of us as followers: family, hard, leading, and corrective work.

In this post I want to address the first.

Family Work  

Remember how Paul begins? We ask you. He urges gently; he doesn’t pull apostolic rank. And he writes with affection calling them brothers. Of course, as the ESV marginal note clarifies, he means brothers and sisters—both men and women.

He builds everything he commends here on the gospel foundation of brotherhood. We are family. Before we are elders, deacons, congregants et al, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. The church is God’s family.

What should distinguish us above all else is the love for which we have for one another.  For followers that must be especially true of the way they esteem their church officers.

One Sunday morning a number of years ago I went on an ill-advised tirade during the announcement segment of the worship service. A new round of what we call Equipping Hour (think Sunday school) classes lay before us.

Attendance at these often started strong but waned as weeks went by. In an effort to motivate greater participation, I went on a legalistic rant and rave. I mean, it was ugly.

It was so bad my wife actually pulled me aside during the music to express her dismay at my meltdown!

If that wasn’t bad enough, a week or so later our young pastoral intern asked to meet me for lunch. After the usual chit chat, Scott courageously brought up that Sunday.

I’ll never forget what he said. Pastor Curt, the only thing that entire day that pointed me to the gospel was the baptisms at the end. This clearly had not been my finest pastoral hour.

That both my wife and an intern needed to exhort me about it humbled me big time. I got the message. I determined never to do that again.

Both the way Nancy and Scott approached me made all the difference in the world in the way I reacted. They never lost sight of respect for my calling and authority as an elder. They entreated me with esteeming love as a brother—and in my wife’s case—also as her husband!

When you engage an officer about some issue in your church, picture him with his family hat on—your brother—before you do with his leader hat on.

What is one way you could show your esteem for a pastor this week as your brother?