Elders: Worthy of Double Honour (1 Tim. 5:17)Sep 03, 2023
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
Who are these elders Paul is referring to? Everyone who is involved in directing the affairs of the church. It's about church leaders.
I think this would be a good time to talk about John Maxwell's Five Levels of Leadership.
At the most basic level, leadership is about Position - people follow the leader because they have to. In the marketplace, this could be your boss. She tells you where to be, what you are to be doing, when you are to do it, and how you are to do it. And, you do it - she is the boss, and if you don't do it, you won't be working there any more. This doesn't work so well in volunteer organizations, though, because you can always walk away, but if that's all there is to your job, you probably won't be there very long anyway. This is the only level of leadership where the leader can make demands.
The next level of leadership is Permission. This is where the person leading has been given permission by you to lead - it's where you follow because you want to follow that person. You appreciate what they are doing for you, and there is a relationship involved. You appreciate them as a person, and give them permission to lead you.
The next level is Production. You have seen the results this leader has been able to provide for the organization, and you want to see more of it. You know what this leader's track record is, what they've been able to do in other situations, and you want to encourage it here. They have demonstrated their leadership abilities, and you appreciate that.
The next level is People development. It's not just about what they have been able to accomplish for you, but in you. You are growing in your abilities and devotion because of their leadership, and you appreciate that. Your horizons are being lifted through their faithfulness, example, mentorship, and leadership.
The top level is the Pinnacle, where it's all about respect. You know them, see them for who they are, and uplift them because of the first four levels, but it goes beyond that. You want to follow them for what they represent. Within the church, you want to follow them because they are truly representing Christ himself as the leader of the church.
So, who is Paul talking about here? Well, he tells us: those who direct the affairs of the church. In some cases, those who are members of the church board (whatever that means). In other cases, those who are ordained pastors. It could also mean those who are in a variety of leadership positions, from teaching the women's Bible study to those who lead a team of volunteers who look after the children of those women so they can meet and study God's word. I would say anyone who directs the affairs of the church - honour them. But especially, honour those who are responsible for the church, and in particular, those who have the responsibility of preaching and teaching, for they are stewards of God's greatest resource - His Word.
To use Maxwell's 5 Levels of Leadership, do all you can to support them in their ministry as they represent the Lord himself.
But they're only human - they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you and me. I'm not talking about putting them on a pedestal, for true leadership is servant leadership!
They have a lot of responsibility. That's why you need to choose them so carefully. And if they mess up, they're accountable. We'll get to that in verse 19.