I have long appreciated what are referred to as the Apostle Paul’s “Pastoral letters”, 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus. His obvious love for those two pastor/teachers is evident throughout both books. Wouldn’t it be a grand thing if every young preacher had some wise old sage to give him the loving advice and spiritual foundation Paul carefully provided for these two?
Some of the more practical advice is found in 1 Timothy chapter 5.
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says,“You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. (1 Timothy 5:17-20)
First, here’s the passage for those of you who object to paying your pastor. Those who labor for the Lord deserve their wages just like others who work on a job. I’m confident that many people will on day be very ashamed of the way they have treated those honorable servants who have taught them the Word of God and cared for their spiritual well-being over the years. I have heard far too many derogatory comments about the pulpit man, the youth minister, etc, and usually from someone whose primary job in the Kingdom of God is to warm a pew on Sunday morning and not much else.
My focus though is on this sentence.
Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
I will never forget hearing a beloved old evangelist tell the following story. He had preached in a large meeting with participants from all across the country. After the service as people were greeting each other and talking a pastor he had known for some time came to him and asked, “Have you heard about brother so-and-so? I heard he is having an affair with his secretary and his marriage will end and the church will split and ….”, and on and on he went. The old man stopped him and said to him. “I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it, and I don’t want to believe it, and I will not believe it!” “But”, the man protested, “I heard it on good authority.” The old man who was now in tears said, “No you didn’t, you heard if from a gossip just like you are. You should repent being in the ungodly rumor business and keep your trap shut!” (If that isn’t his exact words they are very close) Shocked the man spun on his heel and hurried away.
The old man of God went on to tell how months later, after he had prayed for the accused every day, he learned that one couple in the church who wanted the pastor out had started an ugly rumor and upon being discovered were put out of the church after several meeting with church leaders and having refused to confess and repent.
This story happened in the mid 1970′s. Just think how much easier it is to spread rumors, to gossip, and spread untruths using the technology we have today. Please follow Paul’s advice and the example of this old preacher in the story and refuse to listen to, or believe gossip about God’s servants. Unless there are two or three persons who can testify to the truth of some allegation our disposition should be to not hear it and to remind the tattler of this passage of scripture.
I love preachers, pastors, elders, and every other man and woman whose main work is caring for the flock of God and teaching the Bible. They are special to God and we MUST treat them so.