As many of you know, I am a pastor/elder (we use the terms interchangeably), but I do not get paid a salary as a pastor/elder. Instead, I work a full-time job in order to support myself and my family, and so that we can help others who are in need. Some are concerned that the church is not honoring the elders because they are not paid a salary.
However, even though I do not get paid a salary, this does not mean that the church does not honor me as an elder. In the past, I’ve written about several of the ways that believers have chosen to honor me and my family (for example see “On being honored” [from Dec. 2006], “Thankful“). In the past, some have handed me money, while others have given us food or other items. Some friends have cooked dinner for us, either inviting us to share the meal in their home, or bringing dinner to us in our home. As I mentioned in the two posts above, some friends (still unknown to us) had a propane tank installed and filled with propane twice. There have been many ways that our brothers and sisters in Christ have honored us.
When I think back over the last few years of being recognized as an elder, I can see many ways that God has used people to honor us. It has also been interesting and exciting to see the variety of ways that people have honored us. In fact, the ways seem to be as numerous and different as the gifting, talents, abilities, and resources of the people that God has chosen to bring into our lives.
Recently, I was talking to one of my good friends. He told me that his family had been studying 1 Timothy, and his nine year old son is very concerned with caring for widows and with honoring elders. This young boy has no resources of his own, but he wants to honor me. The thought alone is honoring, but he went beyond thought and came up with a way that he could take care of his pastors. His father said that he wants to wash one of our vehicles. I almost cried when he told me, not because we need our vehicle washed, but because of the love and concern that went into this decision on the part of a nine year old boy.
Each time someone does something for me or my family – from handing me money, to bringing us dinner, to even washing our car – I’m reminded how much my Father loves me, and how wonderful his people are. I hope that my life will bring as much honor to God as he has brought to me through his people.
Of course, I’m not the only person recognized as a pastor/elder for the church, which means that I’m also responsible for honoring others for their teaching and leading. We’ve also honored the other elders (we have had as many as four, we currently have two) in many different ways as well. It is always exciting to think of ways to show how much we love and appreciate those whom God has given us to teach us and lead us. This means that I have to know them as well so that I can know how to honor them.
Honoring pastors/elders is often a “hot button” topic in churches. Of course, many times it is not even considered because the pastors/elders are paid a salary. Might I encourage you, even if your pastors/elders are paid a salary, consider how you might honor them for their teaching and leadership. You might find that God chooses to bless both you and your elder because of this. Of course, desiring a blessing is not the reason to honor elders. But then, unfortunately, obedience to God and demonstrating love to others is not always as good of a motivator as perhaps it should be.