I was once told, “Preachers don’t deserve any more honor than janitors”. This comment was made after I had taught three weeks through an exposition and exegesis on the biblical principles, patterns and practices of honoring the man of God. Now can you imagine having to pastor somebody who thinks like that?
I Thessalonians 5:12, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”
This month, October, is Clergy Appreciation Month. Who knew? There does not seem to be a lot of intentional and purposeful attempts to appreciate those who preach the gospel and serve in the local church. The celebrity preacher and the star spiritual personality have made “clergy appreciation” seem inordinate and ostentatious. If you watch an episode of “Preachers of LA” and then hear a call to appreciate clergy the modern mindset will probably ask, “Do they want more? Don’t they get too much money and attention already?”
Clergy Appreciation is about acknowledging, accepting and affirming God’s call upon those who preach and lead. Do you acknowledge the divine call that comes upon men and women by the Holy Spirit to preach and lead? Do you accept that those called to preach and lead are set apart by God and are anointed and not average? Do you affirm that those called to preach and lead are deserving of appreciation, compensation and celebration? If you said, “I do” to the aforementioned questions you are qualified to enter into covenant with a real man or woman of God. Congratulations!
God has placed special and supernatural honor upon those he calls to preach and lead. We are told to give our spiritual leaders “double honor” (I Timothy 5:17). Psalm 105:14 says of those called of God, “He suffered no man to do them wrong : yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; 15 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm”.
We are supposed to know those who labor among us. That means we need to be intentional in our efforts to learn our leaders. We learn our leaders by living close and listening closely to our leaders. Leaders “admonish”. To admonish has at least three variants in meaning: 1) To encourage. 2) To warn. 3) To correct. The best spiritual leaders encourage, warn and correct those they lead. If we knew the purpose and passion of our leaders we would better appreciate what God is doing for us through them.
We are told to “esteem highly’ those who lead us in things biblical and spiritual. We never have to apologize for highly regarding, intentionally honoring and placing special significance upon those who preach the Word to us and lead us by the Spirit. The esteem we place upon our spiritual leaders should be the higher and highest esteem we place upon any leaders in our culture. Paul says it is for “their work’s sake”. The work of a spiritual leader is extraordinarily challenging and supremely eternal. There is no work like the work of the Saviour and souls.
The “esteem highly” must come from a love, not a rule. In fact, love seems to be the only rule. When we love our leaders we respect them, we support them, we follow them, and we encourage others to follow them. A leader’s leadership and its effectiveness is directly connected to the attitude of those he/she leads. The aptitude of a leader is no match against the attitude of the followers. Paul says,” And be at peace among yourselves”. Honoring leaders produces peace among God’s people. Where there is a lack of honor or a lack of leaders there will be no peace among God’s people.
Clergy is not a term used in the Bible. It is a Latin designation that came from the ranks of religion.The term “clergy” ultimately however comes from the Greek word “klēros” which means “a lot”, “that which is assigned by lot”; “an allotment”. The clergy are those who have been given an “assigned allotment”. The true “clergy” are those called of God to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to serve and lead God’s people through the local church. It is “a lot”.