October is minister/clergy/pastor appreciation month with the goal that every church leader and their family would feel appreciated by those they serve (http://www.cccf-ucc.org/clergy_appreciation_month; publication of this website shouldn’t be construed as an endorsement of the website or the church to whom it belongs. It was merely the first place I looked after a Google search about the topic).
Church leader appreciation is appropriate because God started it when he inspired the Apostle Paul to write, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching,” and, “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work” (1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church” and “those who are over you in the Lord,” both refer to a group that’s unique to each congregation (flock) (1 Peter 5:1-4). God gave fairly specific guidelines about who are to serve as church leaders (called elders, pastors, shepherds, and bishops in various Bible versions) and what their work is (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9, and other passages cited in this article).
There are other church workers, including some who preach and teach, but they’re not part of God’s leadership team in the congregation (Ephesians 4:11-14). [We don’t have Apostles, prophets, or tongue-speakers anymore because the Bible is our complete guide for Christianity (Jude 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3-11)]. All Christians should do the works God has prepared in advance for us to do under the direction of the congregational leaders (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:23-24; 1:3-6; Philippians 1:3-6). These men are responsible for what’s taught and other aspects of the congregational work without being micromanagers.
This accountability of church leaders directly to God also leads to congregational autonomy. That is, each congregation has latitude in regard to finances and its practices based on decisions made by its leaders, but it’s also accountable to God (and only God) for adhering to his plan (Revelation 2:1 to 3:22).
Respecting our leaders means aspiring to follow their example as they follow the example of Christ (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Did you get that? The best way to show appreciation for leaders is to submit to our leadership as they follow Christ and speak the word of God to us (1 Corinthians 11:1; Acts 20:26-28). Honoring a church’s leadership team and their families in this way throughout the year should be a part of a church’s ongoing care for them (Yep, the leaders and their families need at least as much care and encouragement as any other Christian).
So, give proper recognition to those who work hard among you whenever an opportunity arises. Also, read your Bible daily, particularly the New Testament, which gives the guidelines for life under the new covenant, to make sure your congregation is being led according to God’s plan for leadership, worship, and service.
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org