How Church Members can Serve their Pastors

In a previous blog, I made a case for why becoming a church member is essential. One of the reasons listed was that it defines the pastor’s responsibility as the one who will give an account to God concerning the souls of his congregants. This is so because he is tasked with shepherding believers’ souls for God’s glory (Hebrews 13:17). I concluded the article by stating that a Christian shouldn’t desire the privileges of being a church member without taking up the responsibilities that come with being one; serving our pastors being a primary one. 

For us to be built up in the most holy faith (Jude 20) and to be equipped for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12), we need our pastors, who are God’s gift to us (Ephesians 4:11). With this in mind, we have to enable them to do their work with joy and not with groaning. To this end, we can play various roles in serving our overseers. Using Hebrews 13:7-19, I will show you how you could serve your pastor. 

Remember Them through Prayer

Hebrews 13:7 reiterates that pastors bring God’s word to us. This is significant because our faith is built through hearing the word of God (Romans 10:14-17). With regard to this task, how can we remember our pastors? The author of Hebrews wrote that we are to do so through prayer (Hebrews 13:18-19). Paul often asked his readers to pray for him (Romans 15:30-33, Ephesians 6:19-20, Philippians 1:19-20, Colossians 4:2-4, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Why so? Well, as he says to both Ephesians (Ephesians 6:19-20) and Colossians (Colossians 4:2-4), it was so that he would have the needed boldness to preach the gospel and that opportunities would arise for gospel proclamation. 

Being a pastor is arduous, so much so that Scripture says that not all should desire it unless they are qualified to be one and God’s call is heavy on their hearts (James 3:1, 1 Timothy 3:1-7). We have already seen that they will have to give an account for our souls (Hebrews 13:17). With all these weights pressing in on them, especially in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to the truth, prayers are necessary for them to forge ahead and press on for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). If they are to proclaim the gospel unwaveringly, especially in a world that hates them, then our prayers are necessary.

It is no wonder that Jesus prayed his high priestly prayer in John 17 for the apostles even though he had earlier promised them a helper (John 14-16). If our own Saviour did so, why wouldn’t we? We are to remember our Lord’s servants through prayer so that they may labour valiantly and that they may conduct themselves honourably (Hebrews 13:17-19). 

Imitate their Faith

Are they living by the word of the God that they preach? Are they above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2)? If they conduct themselves in a manner praised by all and in line with God’s word, you are called to imitate their faith. Pastors ought to act as benchmarks for how we, as Christians, are to live righteously. By no means should that imply that we should set our hopes on them–their works are fruitless unless God causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-9). However, we should avoid being overly suspenseful of them. There are good reasons why the qualifications to be a Pastor are exceedingly high (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9). They are to be above reproach, acting in a manner acceptable to God and approved by men (Romans 14:16-18), as they are our representatives to a watching world. 

If they do so, we are called to follow them as they follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Because they are looking to Jesus and seeking the things above, we are to imitate their faith. That is why Paul, in the letter to both the Corinthians and Philippians, uses his pursuit of knowing Christ as an example that they were to emulate (1 Corinthians 11:1, Philippians 3:1-11). He also uses the example of both Timothy and Epaphroditus to the Philippians as men worthy of emulation because of their faith (Philippians 2:19-30). Their faith was commendable as they aspired to be like Christ (Philippians 2:5-11). If that is true of your pastor, be encouraged to imitate his faith. 

Guard both Their Faith and Ours

An important thing to consider is that we can only imitate the faith of our pastors if we are confident that they are not preaching a different gospel from the one that the apostles preached (Galatians 1:8). The threat of false teaching is so rampant that aside from Philemon, all of the New Testament is rife with warnings about it. Jesus (Mark 13:22-23), Paul (Acts 20:29-31, Romans 16:17-18) and Peter (2 Peter 2:1-3) all warned of this looming danger. As church members, we are encouraged by the author of Hebrews to ensure that this isn’t the case with those who are taking care of our souls. When necessary, we must confront them whenever they deviate from preaching God’s authentic word, pointing us to Christ (Hebrews 13:8-9, 1 Timothy 6:3-5, 2 Timothy 4:3-4). 

We are to be like the Bereans who, even though I am confident, had a deep reverence for Paul, still searched the Scriptures to ensure that all that he said to them was true (Acts 17:10-12). Faithful pastors, like Paul, would joyously welcome that (Galatians 1:8), but false teachers would get offended by this kind of accountability. For faithful shepherds, exulting Christ should be their ultimate goal (Hebrews 1:1-3), and they will be all the more pleased if their congregants aim for the same. 

When all is said and done, we must ensure that our pastors are preaching the gospel joyously and not sluggishly, as those looking to the better city whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10; 13:14). If we want to offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, we must aim to build each other up in the most holy faith and with much love and joy. Almost always, a joyful pastor results in a joyful church, and a faithful pastor in a faithful church; thus, we are to guard our pastors’ faith and ours joyously. 

Obey and Submit to Them

Finally, if they are worthy of imitation, then as the leaders chosen by God for your care and to equip you for ministry, they are worthy of your obedience and submission. As long as their decisions align with God’s word, we must respect and act on them as they desire and as guided by God’s word. As the author of Hebrews states, not doing so will be unprofitable to the church as it will create unnecessary conflicts (Hebrews 13:17). However, if you obey and submit to your pastors, there’s harmony and joy among the saints. 

Having pastors who seek to be godly is worth its weight in gold as they are people who, by God’s grace, strive to lead by both example and teaching (1 Timothy 4:16, 1 Peter 5:1-4), and with humble hearts. They are like nursing mothers who care for their children and seek to nourish and cherish them (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). They aim to exhort, encourage and bear witness to us as fathers would to their children (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). Finally, they are willing to give themselves up for the good of us, the sheep, just like Christ (John 10:11). If this, dear saint, describes your pastor, then you owe them all the respect, obedience and submission this world has to offer. They are men worthy of your service as they care for your souls and equip you for ministry for God’s glory and your good.

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