Saturday, September 27, 2014

The pastors and the people

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Philippians 2:18-30

TO CHEW ON: "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem." Philippians 2:29

How do you view your pastor and other members of your church's ministry team? If you're a pastor, how do you view your congregation? Are you "buddy-buddy"? Or is there a bit of a gulf between the congregation and the leadership? This gulf could be there for a number of legitimate reasons:

- Pastors are also often our counselors. As such they know things about various ones of us they're not free to divulge. Their role demands discretion.

- If they are obedient to sharing God's word with us, it may not always be what we want to hear and, like the Old Testament prophets, our pastors may experience friendship fallout from the unpopularity of their message.

- The very position of leader needs some distance and objectivity. Leaders need to be fair and not seen to be favoring one group or individual over another.

In our reading today, Paul talks to the Philippians about their relationship with him and the members of his team, and vice versa. Some of the interactions he has experienced and hopes for are:

On the part of the pastor toward the congregation:
  • They genuinely care for the state of the people, as Timothy does - Philippians 2:20.
  • They serve Jesus' concerns and interests, not their own - Philippians 2:21,22.
  • They are willing to travel as both Timothy and Epaphroditus are - Philippians 2:23,25.
  • There is a genuine love of the team members for the congregation - Philippians 2:26.
  • They are willing to extend themselves for the gospel and the church, e.g. Epaphroditus - Philippians 2:30.

On the part of the congregation toward the pastors:
  • Paul hopes for openness between congregation and workers so that he can "know your state." He hopes to be encouraged by them - Philippians 2:19.
  • The Philippian church has been concerned about practical things like Epaphriditus's health - Philippians 2:26.
  • Paul asks them to offer joyous hospitality to visiting team members and to hold them in esteem - Philippians 2:29.

What can we learn and apply from the relationship of Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus with the church members at Philippi?

If we're pastors or part of a ministry team, we can ask ourselves, do we genuinely love and care about our congregation? Are we willing to do what it takes of travel and other self-denying acts for their benefit? Or do we whine about their immaturity and other faults when we're with fellow ministers at, say, the local ministerial meeting?

As members of the congregation, are we hospitable toward our pastors? Are we aware that they are vulnerable to health problems like the rest of us? Do we hold them in esteem? Or are we standoffish toward them, with a type of "class" mentality?  Do we respect and honor them when they're not around, or gossip about and criticize them behind their backs?

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to relate to my pastor and the ministry team at church in a way that pleases You, encourages then, and helps build up the body of Christ. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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