12We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise prophecies, 21but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22Abstain from every form of evil.
I know that I won't get through this all today. :) So will just take the first couple of verses.
I read a statistic somewhere that being a pastor is considered one of the most dangerous jobs out there for the mental health of a person. There are HUGE numbers of pastors who are forced out of ministry due to poor health, mental breakdown, and so forth. Some pastors are driven out of churches that are known to be pastor killers. So when I read this verse:
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.I had to wonder if too many people have forgotten this. We are commanded of God, it's just Paul saying it here, to respect those who teach us, those who have been placed in authority over us by God. They are there to teach, to lead, and to admonish. And we are to respect them and love them because of the work they do for us.
Of course, to respect one's leadership one needs to know who they are. Do I know who all the leaders are in my church? I'm fortunate in that I attend a small church, but even so, sometimes I'm left wondering....who are the elders this term? who are the deacons? Of course I know who my pastor is.... I live with him. :) But it's a good thing to think on....how well do I know my pastor and the other church leadership? In that knowing, do I come with an attitude of wanting to respect them for what they do? For what God has called them to? For make no doubt about it, GOD puts them in the position that they are in.
How do I show my love to them? Do I criticize? Do I compliment? Do I acknowledge the good that they do? Do I see them for the men of God that called has called them to be? How do I keep myself from helping to add to the statistic of pastor burn-out and stress? Just how do I show love? Do I want to get to know them -- to get to know more how to offer support, and to know more how to offer love in meaningful way?
A pastor's job is more than preaching a sermon. A deacon's job is more than counting money. An elder's job is more than doing a yearly house-visit and shaking the pastor's hand. They are there to teach and to admonish and to work among us. Not just for us, but among us. They don't do all the work, but the work they do should be respected. And they should be loved for doing it.
We are to love one another. And that's what it all comes down to. Let's love each other.