Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 1 Timothy 5: 17
Elders mean overseers or leaders. The term Double honor comes from the Greek word time’ or teemay. It means, the value of something. So the literal Greek says that leaders and ministers are worthy of double value. We should not only value them, but double that value. Think of them twice as much as you usually do. The question is “How do we do that?” Let’s talk about the man who wrote those words, Paul. Listen to these passages that he writes to two different churches:
“I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2: 1-3.
That word agonized really stands out doesn’t it? The word is the Greek word Agon, which signified the feelings of a marathon runner in a contest. That was the way Paul felt toward the churches. He was in an inner conflict, a real struggle, as if he was at mile 22 of a marathon.
Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? 2 Cor. 11: 28-29
That word burden can also mean anxiety, uneasiness, constant care. Notice the emotions that it brought to Paul’s life. Weakness, anger, frustrations, or as the NET Bible puts it, 'the daily pressure on me of my anxious concern for all the churches.'" Paul is saying that his physical hardships are no more difficult than his constant concern for the people in the churches he started.
80% of ministers believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
40% of pastors revealed that they have thought about getting out of the ministry.
What are some things that you can do to encourage your ministers?
1. Pray for them. It is the prayers of your people that get you through the week. We need more prayer on Monday mornings than any other time. Monday’s are the hardest day of the week for most ministers. We are mentally tired from Sunday and we feel the most drained. Tell them you are praying for them. Ask them how you can pray for them.
2. Love their family. Nothing is better to me than when a church member does something nice for Lorrie or the kids. Offer to babysit for a staff member so that they can take their spouse out for a date. 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse. The divorce rate for ministers is equal to the divorce rate of the average congregation. Take the minister’s wife on a shopping trip and buy her something nice. Give encouraging notes to their children or spouse. Celebrate family events with them by sending cards, letters or gifts. Don’t forget birthdays, anniversaries.
3. Take something off their agenda. Statistics tell us that churchgoers expect their pastor to juggle an average of 16 major tasks at a time. Our schedules are often filled with emergencies, life crises, and unrealistic time demands. Find something that you can do to “lighten the load.”
4. Be a friend. There are times when your ministers just would like to hang out with you. No string attached. Don’t discuss church, don’t talk to them about crises in your life, don’t ask them about the church budget. Just take them out to eat, to a ballgame, on a hunt, etc..
5. Have an appreciation for their time. I normally study for sermons on Tuesdays. So likely that is not the best time to come by and see me. You need to find out when your pastor does sermon prep and value that time. Don’t call after 9PM unless an emergency. Be sensitive to the fact that he is probably at home trying to do homework with kids, giving baths, helping with supper and trying to be a dad.
6. Just be an encourager. Over 50% of ministers say that they have experienced burn out or depression to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry. 70% say that they have a lower self esteem now than when they started out. Commit yourself to be a constant encourager to your ministers.