Honoring the position of pastor. Those churches which do it well are most blessed. Others who have not learned this concept are missing out on so much.
I met with the leadership of a wonderful church earlier this year. This church is just an outstanding group of people. They love God, love their pastor, and genuinely want to see their community reached for Christ. However, they had a blind spot in the way they took care of their pastor.
Part of the dilemma for churches like this one is that the laity do not understand the critical role they play in honoring their pastor. Be sure to note that nothing this church did or did not do was dishonoring with any sense of intentionality. They simply were unaware of how their actions or inactions could be viewed by the pastor. Their absence of expressing a sense of honor had the unintended consequences of expressing potential dishonor to their pastor.
I guess you might say to yourself right now, “I am certainly not going to tell my church to honor me.” I would not expect you to do so. I would expect, however, you to teach on the subject of honor and respect, not to lift yourself but to allow the church to experience the blessing of honoring those in spiritual authority over them.
Here are some steps you can take to help your church understand their role in honoring their pastor. Yes, in this case and this time in history, that would be you! ·
- Teach the “why” of honor. We need to be honoring of those around us: our family, staff, board members, volunteers, and pastors. 1 Timothy 5:17 states, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” Scripture is replete with references to honor others. As the spiritual leader of your congregation you teach this concept in the full counsel of God.
- National efforts help the local cause. You should take advantage of national times of pastoral recognition, generally in October, when the country is encouraged to recognize its pastors. The national effort makes it easier to approach because it takes the “suggestion” off of you and places it on someone outside your church. Organizations like Focus on the Family and others strongly recommend churches do something for their pastor(s) at this time. Give your leadership team information on the day set aside as Pastor Appreciation Day and leave it as an FYI. You should in separate venues teach on the importance of honoring others. By the way, if your church chooses to honor their pastor in October, probably the worst time of the year for you to encourage this effort is September and October. Be smart about this and start in November for the following year.
- Tithes and Honor. Talk to your board or volunteer leadership team about the importance of acknowledging the role of Pastor. Assure them that this instruction on your part is not about you; rather, it is about the need for the church to understand the role of “honor” in the body. Think the way you might think about teaching tithing. You don’t teach tithing because the church needs money. You teach tithing because it is a biblical principle and concept which, when practiced by the members of the church, yields huge blessings to them. It is an issue of obedience. The same exists in teaching honor of the office of pastor.
- This is not about strokes. Make sure the leadership understands you are not looking for “strokes”. You are encouraging this effort in order for the body to understand honor of leadership just as a family teaches honor between family members.
- Ask an administrator or key layman for help. If you are in a multiple staff setting, you as the senior pastor can take the lead in honoring other staff members in an appropriate way. If you have an administrator on staff or someone who can help remember this effort from year to year, it oftentimes works well for that person to be the one leading the charge with the board in this time of recognition.
- Make it part of your culture. Do everything you can to build into your system times of recognition. This removes you from having to constantly bring up the subject and leave the door open for someone to misunderstand your motives. By the way, make sure your motives are right! You will still need to teach on the subject. Everything you do in building your system to have this time of honoring helps. Make it a natural part of your culture.
Having noted these things some pastors may ask the question, “What do I do if my church refuses to honor the office of pastor?” The answer to that tough question is to keep doing all you can to advance the concept of “honor” while resting in your security and honor as emanating from the Lord.
On the long haul, however, you may not last at that church, and I’m not sure that would be your desire anyway. The church’s expression on this issue will probably manifest itself in other areas as well. Nowhere in the country will you find a church that is growing which intentionally does NOT honor its pastor. How that looks from church to church is different. But the principle of honor is biblical and timeless.
Understand you are motivated to serve the Lord and the church because of His calling on your life, not man’s. Do all you can to help your leadership understand the same. Disregarding this counsel will set you up for disappointment and as important, it may set your successor up for failure. Church cultures of honor and generosity are those that grow. If the body of believers which you lead wants to grow now and in the future, one of the early cultural developments should be that of honoring its pastor.
You are the leader of this body. It’s your role to advance that cause.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dick Hardy is the Founder and President of The Hardy Group, an Executive Consulting firm for senior pastors of churches. Dick brings a wealth of experience to the table for pastors when dealing with the tough issues of the church relative to growth, organization, leadership, administration, and change. His service as Administrative Pastor to two mega churches and as Vice President at a flagship denominational Bible college makes him a resource your church will want to retain.
Copyright © 2008 by Dick Hardy. Permission is granted for the redistribution of this article. You may contact Dick at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.thehardygroup.org.