Accountability to Church Leaders
1 Thess. 5:12-13
We are now on the end part of this beautiful Epistle. Paul changes his topic from prophecy to present issues in the church. As “sons of light and sons of the day”, we have a duty to comfort and edify one another. Whether you are leader in the church or an ordinary church member, out of love and in obedience to the Lord’s command, we are all accountable to one another.
Illustration 1: Pray for your Pastor
According to the latest poll 97 % of pastors have been betrayed, falsely accused by their trusted friends, 70% of pastors suffers depression, 50% of pastor’s marriage ends in divorce, 1500 pastors quit each month, 80% of pastors feel discouraged, 94 % of pastor’s family feel the pressure of the ministry, 78% of pastors have no close friends, 10% will retire a pastor, 90% of pastors work 55-75 hours per week. Pray for your Pastor.
I. Church Leaders (1 Thess. 5:12-13)
A. Those who labor among you…
1. Pastor (also known as bishop, elder), refers to the church leader as the shepherd of the flock, speaking of his work of teaching and nurturing and protecting the assembly. (Mt 9:36; 25:32; 26:31; Mr 6:34; 14:27; Lu 2:8,15,18,20; Joh 10:2,11-12,14,16; Heb. 13:20).
2. Deacons are those who minister to the needs of the congregation – Ph. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-13
3. Evangelists are those whose ministry is to the Word of God, proclaiming the good news to both sinner and saint – Eph. 4:11; 2 Tim. 4:5.
4. Teachers, who provide instruction in the doctrine of Christ – Eph. 4:11; Acts 13:1-2; 1 Cor. 12:28-29.
Illustration 2: Being A Pastor Means…
Spending three years studying systematic theology only to discover that the most scholarly comment people respond to is “God loves you.”
Never having enough money to pay one’s bills and enough time to count one’s blessings.
Receiving two anonymous letters in the same week—one correcting the grammar in last Sunday’s sermon and the other containing money to be given to a family experiencing difficulty.
Seldom living near relatives but always near friends.
Trying not to laugh when asked to say a blessing at the dedication of the town’s new sewage treatment plant.
Always working overtime but seldom feeling the need to watch the clock.
Uniting with God’s children at all of the turning points of life.
Sharing the joys of the wedding, the birth of the child, the baptism of the believer, and tears in the hospital and the funeral home.
Pushing the button of hope for those who have hit bottom.
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
II. Duties to Church Leaders
A. To Know them (1 Thess. 5:12). Recognize them. Paul says to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you. Know comes
from the word “eido” and means “to recognize, acknowledge, appreciate, value.” This is more than knowing the Pastor’s name and a few details about him. The idea here is of a close and personal acquaintance that results in a loving appreciation of the Lord’s servant. Pastors are God’s gifts to the church. They have spiritual authority from the Lord and we should accept them in the Lord. They are not dictators, but leaders and examples. As they follow the Lord, we must follow them. The Pastor is not someone you hire to fill the pulpit. He is someone who is handpicked and placed in his position by God. The Word of God says “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding”. (Jer. 3:15) Don’t take spiritual leadership for granted. Concerning leaders, it is our duty to recognize them.
B. Appreciate them. There is nothing wrong with honoring faithful servants of God, so long as God gets the glory. Spiritual leadership is a great responsibility and a difficult task. It is not easy to serve as a pastor, elder, deacon, or other spiritual leader. The battles and burdens are many, and sometimes the encouragements are few. It is dangerous when a church family takes their leaders for granted and fails to pray for them, work with them, and encourage them.
C. Respond to Them. According to the Bible, Pastors are over you in the Lord, and admonish you. (1 Thess. 5:12). The Pastor is the leader in the Church. He is the under shepherd of the Good and Great Shepherd. The Pastor is the human leader of the Church. It is the Pastor’s responsibility to lead the local Church. He is to be an overseer. (Acts 20:28) taking the oversight. (1 Pet. 5:2). As God’s leader the Pastor is to direct the local Church in its Ways, Worship, and Work. The Bible commands believers to Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God… and Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves… (Heb. 13: 7 & 17) The word rule means “to take the lead, to be chief, to preside over, to govern, and to rule.” Also see 1 Tim. 3:4 where the same truth is taught concerning the Pastor. The Pastor must not be a lord over God’s heritage, nor is he to neglect the wisdom and counsel of good and godly men in the congregation, but he is to take the lead and govern the local Church to which God has called him. So let the Pastor lead the Church. This is part of the job God has given him to do.
D. The Pastor’s job is also to admonish you. Here is one that folks don’t like very much. Admonish means to “put in mind, warn, instruct.” It carries the idea of “providing instruction to correct behavior and belief.” People don’t like to be admonished, nor do they like to repent. However, the man who preaches the whole counsel of God will eventually step on someone’s toes. There is no one so in line with the Word of God that he is exempt from Holy Spirit conviction. When we are admonished by the Preaching let us respond properly and repent.
E. Esteem them very highly. The word esteem means “hold in the highest regard.” Not only are we to esteem them, but we are to esteem them very highly in love. The words very highly mean “exceedingly and abundantly “Very highly” is strong language. “Highly” is perissos, which is a powerful term in itself. It is elsewhere translated “beyond measure” (Mr. 6:51), “abundantly” (Jn. 10:10; Eph. 3:20), “superfluous” (2 Cor. 9:1), and “exceedingly” (1 Thess. 3:10). Biblical pastors should be shown great esteem. Elsewhere Paul uses the term “double honour” (1 Tim. 5:17). That is God’s express will in the matter, and it is on this basis that churches will be examined at Christ’s judgment seat. I wouldn’t want to stand there and give account for not having had a proper biblical relationship with my pastors.” God
wants us to hold a high view of Church leadership. And notice why it is so important to respect leadership. Paul says, for their work’s sake. It is not because the Pastor is so great; not because he is so wonderful; not even because he is a great orator or preacher. We respect them for the work’s sake. God called him; God placed him; God is blessing his work—respect him for their work’s sake.
Illustration 3: Servant (doulos)
“Servant” in our English New Testament usually represents the Greek doulos (bondslave). Sometimes it means diakonos (deacon or minister); this is strictly accurate, for doulos and diakonos are synonyms. Both words denote a man who is not at his own disposal, but is his master’s purchased property. Bought to serve his master’s needs, to be at his beck and call every moment, the slave’s sole business is to do as he is told. Christian service therefore means, first and foremost, living out a slave relationship to one’s Savior (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
What work does Christ set his servants to do? The way that they serve him, he tells them, is by becoming the slaves of their fellow-servants and being willing to do literally anything, however costly, irksome, or undignified, in order to help them. This is what love means, as he himself showed at the Last supper when he played the slave’s part and washed the disciples’ feet.
When the New Testament speaks of ministering to the saints, it means not primarily preaching to them but devoting time, trouble, and substance to giving them all the practical help possible. The essence of Christian service is loyalty to the king expressing itself in care for his servants (Matt. 25: 31-46).
Only the Holy Spirit can create in us the kind of love toward our Savior that will overflow in imaginative sympathy and practical helpfulness towards his people. Unless the spirit is training us in love, we are not fit persons to go to college or a training class to learn the know-how or particular branches of Christian work. Gifted leaders who are self-centered and loveless are a blight to the church rather than a blessing.
Your Father Loves You by James Packer, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986, page for March 3
III. Be at peace among yourselves (1 Thess. 5:13)
A. The result of the church family following the spiritual leaders will be peace and harmony in the church: “And be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess. 5:13). Whenever you find division and dissension in a local church, it is usually because of selfishness and sin on the part of the leaders, or the members, or both. James 4:1-3 makes it clear that selfishness on the inside leads to strife on the outside. It is only as we submit to one another in the Lord that we can enjoy His blessing, and peace in the family.
While waiting for the Lord’s coming, we are blessed to have a church leader who feeds us spiritual food, teaching, nurturing, and protecting the flock, etc. We have an accountability to them but also to our fellow Christians. So, for church leaders, we must know (recognize) them, appreciate them, respond to them, esteem them very highly in love. We must also be at peace among ourselves.