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Respecting Leadership (1 Timothy 5:17,18)

Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” (1 Timothy 5:17,18)

You won't be a leader for long, before discovering that it can be hard work. There will be nights you'll want to stay home or go out with friends but will be unable to do so because you have made a commitment to be at a programme where you are expected to provide leadership.

Equally, there will be times when a young person wants to talk or meet with you and you will be tired or will have other things that you need to attend to. Leadership at times requires sacrifice.

Paul knew this better than anyone else and as such talked about the need to show respect for those who lead us - our pastors and elders, and to help provide for their financial needs.

You've possibly heard about "tall poppy syndrome". It's the tendency we have to what to criticise people who are especially gifted or successful. If you have a position of prominence over me a subtle resentment can set in that causes me to look for the slightest perceive fault or weakness in you and then criticise it.

When I do this it not only drags you down but it also makes me feel better about myself and reassures me that am not as inferior to you as I may be tempted to feel. In fact, it can even make me feel I'm somehow better than you.

Jesus was no stranger to tall poppy syndrome. God was using Him in quite astounding ways but when He returned to his home town of Nazareth, we read that he was not able to do many miracles there because of their unbelief. To those who had watched him grow up, He was "just Jesus" and they saw little reason to show Him respect, prompting Jesus to state "a prophet is without honour in his hometown." (Matthew 13:53-58).

These verses challenge us to think about our attitude to our leaders, pastors and elders. It's easy to be critical, especially when we've known them for a long time as inevitably they will make mistakes - they're human like the rest of us.

But in one sense they are not like us. God has placed upon them an important call and given them significant responsibility in the church. As such, our enemy the devil would love to have them feel discouraged and there is nothing more discouraging for a church leader than criticism from those you're trying to love and lead.

If God is to use you as a leader you need to first demonstrate you have respect for the position and that demonstration will come via the extent to which you honour and respect those already holding that position.

This doesn't mean of course that we never offer suggestions if we think they have made a mistake. It does mean however that we offer our thoughts with humility and respect. You might think they have made a mistake, but remember that they are more experienced than you and, unlike you, they have to live with the consequences of their decisions.

Finally, and on a more positive note, ask yourself when you last showed appreciation for those in leadership. Their role is sometimes difficult and even lonely. People can be quick to criticise but not so quick to praise and say, "Thank you."

Make a habit of praying for those in leadership and showing gratitude. If the time ever comes when you are prompted to speak up and offer a suggestion, then it will come from a place of respect and not disrespect.

Reflection

How susceptible to the "tall poppy syndrome" are you? Which comes more naturally to you: to criticise those in leadership or to show appreciation? What can you do to better show respect and honour for your pastor(s) and elders?