categories: church, culture
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May 19th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

11 comments (+ Add)

Honoring Your Church Leaders

1 Timothy 5:17 says, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”

Remember, to dishonor is to treat as common or ordinary. To honor is to highly esteem, to build up.

I remember a time when a church asked me to consult with them. For many years, they had been in decline. I was happy to meet with their pastor and elders to hear their story.

Each time the pastor spoke, the elders talked over him and brushed off his comments as meaningless. The longer the meeting carried on, the more obvious their problem became to me.

When they asked me what I thought, I’m sure they expected me to tell them to change the style of their service or add a Saturday night service, etc.

Instead, I told them that their number one problem was that they were dishonoring their pastor. Immediately, the elders became defensive. It wasn’t until I quoted their words and demonstrated what they had done that they realized their lack of honor.

I explained that I didn’t expect God to bless their church until they trusted and believed in the one God had put there to lead them. On the spot, they sincerely repented to their pastor. Four years later, this church has almost doubled in size.

Showing honor obviously isn’t the key to growth. But a lack of honor certainly doesn’t help. As my church honors me as the God-appointed leader, I feel a deeper sense of urgency to hear from God and do what pleases Him.

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  1. May 19, 2010 at 7:24 am

    That is a powerful story. Not saying I am this but this question entered my mind - What if someone found themselves in the position of the Pastor in your story? What should they do?

    Thanks again for sharing this.

  2. May 19, 2010 at 7:25 am

    This one speaks volumes to me Craig. The church structure where the pastor is seen as the leader tends to lead itself to more of the respect and honor whereas a church structure where he is seen as a hireling lends itself toward a lack of it. I have been in both. A question I have is when does a pastor know that it is a hopeless situation and it is time to move on? Can dishonor be shown in ways besides speech? For example, let’s suppose a move is talked about and the pastor is not for it for several serious reasons but they decide against his leadership? Is that a from of dishonor? Is that a sign that they do not respect his leadership?

  3. May 19, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on honor today Pastor Craig. My father is a pastor, I am a growing worship pastor, I can certainly hear and see these situations playing in my mind both personally and in my few years in ministry. Honor, respect are to be giving up front and when they cannot be given any longer, what I have learned, is to speak with the leadership, be transparent about it, if all else fails then, step down but never undermine, dishonor the leaders in place. I am reminded of David and king Saul ALL day long here…David’s own words “i will not touch God’s anointed”

  4. 5FreedbyJC
    May 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

    That pastor probably prayed earnestly for God’s help to deal with the situation and it arrived in the form of you, your observations and your recommendations. Did they listen? Did they change?

    Dishonor can be shown by hiring a pastor to ‘make a change’ … agreeing with all the visionary change action points he casts but denying him the possibility of getting anything done by tying him up in “what ifs” and “how much?” and “what will the people think?” We took two years to find ‘the man’ and will lose him in the first years due to their dishonorable tactics. They will say we tried but refused to allow the change that needs to occur to turn the body ourward.

  5. 6chris brown
    May 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    great post.

  6. May 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Craig: I agree that all the leaders of the church need to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ. But I am wondering if you are going beyond that to ascribe dispensation to the ‘office of pastor’ in this post. I do not believe that such an office can be found in the Bible. ‘Pastor’ does appear in many well accepted English translations in Ephesians 4:11, but the Greek ‘poimen’ is mostly translated to the English ’shepherd’ wherever it appears in the New Testament. As we can see from the context of Ephesians 4, pastors are not an office but a role, working in the context of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers.

    From my 4+ decades of church experience, I believe that most who use the term pastor wish to attribute that title to their perception of a CEO of a local body of believers. Unfortunately, I believe that is missing the mark of what a pastor is, as well as biblical polity.

    Curious as to what others here think.

  7. May 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Also, the ‘double honor’ concept you cited from 1 Timothy 5 could be correctly interpreted as monetary compensation, like honoraria. Paul makes this clear to Timothy when he follows with: For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages. I agree with your theology of honoring one another and church leaders, but not the selection of text.

  8. 9dave
    Jul 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Hi craig, to be honest I
    completely agree with the your
    previous comments, however, I find
    myself in a church where if I disagree
    it is felt to be dishonouring. Are
    there any verses to bring guidance to
    these type of difficult and complex

  9. Aug 2, 2010 at 7:57 am


    1 Thess 5: 19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good.

    1 Tim 5: 19Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.
    1 Cor 14: 29Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

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