Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
Respect those who labor among you. (v. 12)
In normal times, church leaders help members navigate family squabbles, health emergencies, and all sorts of personal crises. The last few years have been anything but normal. Pastoring through pandemic policies, political divides, and theological disagreements has only added to the “labor.” At the end of last year, Barna Research found that 38 percent of all pastors were seriously considering leaving the ministry! Almost weekly I am engaged in conversations with pastors about private challenges they are afraid to name publicly.
In the concluding verses of 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul asks believers to respect the leaders of the church and “to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” Leading a church, whether as pastor, elder, deacon, or any volunteer role, is hard work. “Labor” (v. 12) implies difficult physical toil.
Paul’s instruction shows that church leaders in every generation have faced a variety of challenges. How might we “respect” and “esteem . . . highly in love” our church leaders? For starters, Paul begins with, “Be at peace among yourselves” (v. 13). In one church I pastored, each member signed a “Commitment to My Pastor” card that included the line, “I will love my sisters and brothers at this church.” This they did with great faithfulness. There were challenges, for sure, but the faithful love of God’s people for one another is a great gift to any pastor. In these days of division, esteem your pastor by loving your sisters and brothers well. —Jon Opgenorth
As you pray, thank God for your pastor.
About the Author
Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.