Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to discover who God is, what He is like, and how to partner with Him now.

Filtering by Tag: pastors

Hard questions about church leadership

Good leaders are hard to find these days.  Whenever we are under a person who is in a leadership position, but he or she isn’t leading – the results are often disastrous.  Without guidance from those who should be responsible, the people in the workforce are directionless and unproductive.  Left unchecked long enough, non-leading “leadership” makes the workplace chaotic.  

However, don’t think that leadership problems are only business and career problems.  Even in a charity setting, leadership matters.  Without an engaged leader, the volunteer work being donated to the cause ends up being ineffective.  And as hard as it is to admit…the same thing can happen in the church.

But rather than focus on the damage that a poor leader can cause, we have a more difficult question to answer…

What do we do for the good leaders?

I think we, as a church, tend to take advantage of good, Godly leadership.  Oh, we say nice things to them, like “I really enjoyed your talk”.  Then we move on with life.  But the moment we need guidance, answers, or support, we expect them to be available.  Especially on the weekends and holidays…because that’s when we have church services, right?

Our church leaders need more than a “thank you”.  Paul thought so as well:

1 Timothy 5:17-18
The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.  For the Scripture says:

You must not muzzle an ox that is threshing grain, and
The laborer is worthy of his wages.

The metaphor is an obvious one - as big and strong as the ox is, it still gets tired and needs to eat, even during the work.

This isn’t the first-time Paul has referred to the oxen direction in the Old Testament law.  He also pointed it out to the believers in Corinth.  Timothy was heavily involved with the Corinthian church, and he would have been aware of Paul’s previous directions based upon the Old Testament oxen scripture.  As such, Paul doesn’t need to reiterate his full teaching in Timothy’s letter – a reminder reference is sufficient to get his point across.

However, for our benefit and understanding, let’s take a look at what Paul said to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 9:9-11, 12-14
For it is written in the law of Moses,

Do not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.

Is God really concerned with oxen?  Or isn’t He really saying it for us?  Yes, this is written for us, because he who plows ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes should do so in hope of sharing the crop.  If we have sown spiritual things for you is it too much if we reap material things from you?

…Do you not know that those who perform the temple services eat the food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the offerings of the altar?  In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel.

How many people attend your church?  If you were responsible for supporting that many people at your job, what kind of salary would you expect?  Is that somewhere in the neighborhood of how much your pastor is being paid?

I know, I know.  Those are hard questions.  Our society struggles with the idea of non-profit and church workers making “too much”.  We think it “looks bad” or “detracts from the cause”.  We tell ourselves that our church leaders are “storing treasure in Heaven” (which they are) and shouldn’t have “too much” down here.  But whose measurement of “too much” should we trust…ours or God’s?

Do some preachers give in to greed and abuse their position?  Absolutely, it happens.  A few verses downstream from these, Paul will address those kinds of issues in leadership.  But that shouldn’t stop us from allowing the good leaders to be appropriately compensated for their hard work now.

Keep Pressing,
Ken

Providing relief

“I need a break.”

How many times have we walked into our home or sat at our desk…and muttered that phrase?

We recognize the value of getting even a few moments away from our normal daily activities and responsibilities.  In sports we see this concept clearly.  Backups – second and third string players – have an important role on the team.  A baseball team will pull the starter and bring in a relief pitcher to close out the final innings.  This isn’t usually a commentary on the starting pitcher, but a strategic choice to rest the starter to ensure that he will be recovered and ready for his next game.  A backup running back may only get seven scattered carries a game, but the carries are timed so that the starter can catch his breath off the field.  On any team, when a starter gets injured, the common phrase uttered is “Next man up!”, and the backup is expected to step in and fill the starter’s role for as long as needed until the starter has recovered from his injury.

We see this in business as well.  Before a manager goes on vacation or to a conference, she will delegate her responsibilities to those who have been prepared to “hold the fort down” and keep the department running.  They aren’t expected to perform the manager’s job forever, but just until she returns.  This same concept is also necessary, but not seemingly practiced as much, within the church leadership.  Some lead pastors never take a Sunday off, and most do not take all the vacation time allotted by the church.

As Paul closes out his letter to Titus, he gives the following instructions:

Titus 3:12 As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decide to winter there.

There are several things worth noting here:

First, Paul was training others to step in and lead so that Titus could have a break.  Paul had other trusted associates and people he had mentored who could step in and lead for a little while.  Titus needed a “season” to rest.  Even if it is just the boat ride from Crete to Nicopolis, Titus would have a break from the day-to-day pressures and responsibility of leading an island full of churches.

Second, Titus’ rest wouldn’t be just lying on a beach without having responsibility, but would be found in facetime with Paul.  Titus would be poured into instead of constantly being poured out of.  He would continue to work for God both with Paul and in other missionary assignments (2 Timothy 4:10).  However, ancient writings tell of him returning to Crete, finishing his life’s work among these people that he loved.

Third, Paul wanted Titus to make this trip away from Crete a priority.  Paul specifically stated do your best to come to me at Nicopolis – the Greek phase for do your best means to be eager to do something or to make every effort to do a task.  Getting a break was to be part of Titus’ mission.

If you are in ministry, when was the last time you had a break?  Are you training others to lead and allowing them to relief-pitch for you?

If you are not in ministry, how can you help your pastor?  Look for ways to take the pressure off of him for a little while.  Volunteer to handle something he normally would do but doesn’t necessarily have to, cook his family dinner one night, and definitely encourage him to take a vacation that includes a Sunday away.

Keep Pressing,
Ken