Giving Due Honor To Leaders
By Robert Boyd
The relation between a Christian leader and his people is represented in the Scriptures as very solemn and tender. He is God’s messenger, to speak to them the words of truth, to feed their souls with the bread of life, to watch for their souls as one who is soon to give an account to Him who sent him. He is to speak to them the truth in love, and not to suffer sin to pass unrebuked, regarding neither the frowns nor the smiles, the cheering nor the derision of those around him. He is to seek, above all things, their edification and spiritual profit, to study to build them up in faith and knowledge, and to have no greater joy than to see his spiritual children walking in the truth.
On the other hand, his people are to esteem him very highly in love for his work’s sake (1 Thes. 5:13). They are to give him a place in their hearts and in their prayers. They are to defend his reputation, to submit to his authority (as long as it is scriptural), to provide for his temporal wants as long as he gives himself wholly to the Lord’s work, and greatly to honor the message which he brings them from God.
Relation of Pastor and People
Give your leader your love and confidence. It is natural that you should be deeply attached to that minister under whose preaching you were brought to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. It is very natural and proper that you should like his preaching best, and that you should feel a warm glow of emotion at the very mention of his name for years afterward. No minister of good sense will feel offended, but rather pleased, to hear Christians speak warmly of their former pastors.
But when converts set up a particular minister as an idol in their souls; when they speak as if they could get good under no instruction but his; when no prayers can lead their devotions heavenward but his; and when they refuse to give their affection and confidence to any other servant of the Lord Jesus, they show that their religion is of a very superficial character. There is room for serious doubts whether they are true converts of Christ. They may be converts of man.
No matter what leader God in His providence places you under, if he is a good man, give him your hearty confidence and co-operation. He may not be so talented and eloquent as some others, for God in His sovereign goodness has given a variety of gifts to His ministers, but he is God’s messenger to you. It is at the peril of your soul that you despise his message. By careful study of the Word of God he has prepared his sermons, and poured his soul out in prayer over them. There is good for your soul in them, if you will only place your mind in a proper attitude. Not the spirit of criticism and faultfinding is blessed, but that of earnest thirsting after truth, saying: "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth!"
Professing Christians will sometimes go home from the house of God and in the presence of their children and of unbelievers, speak the most unmerciful criticisms about their preacher and his preaching efforts. Then they wonder that their children are not converted! In the great day of God, it may be found that they have been the enemies of their children’s souls by filling their minds with prejudice against the truth and its messenger!
When you receive good under your leader’s ministry, do not be afraid to mention it to him. It will not make him proud, but will cheer and encourage him. Your leader needs your aid. There is no work on earth so solemn and having such responsibility, and none that so completely taxes all a man’s best powers as leading a church. None but those who have been called to the work can tell the care and anxiety that fill the faithful pastor’s heart. Resolve that if you cannot lighten these cares, at least you will not intentionally add to their number. God may bless you for His servant’s sake.
Pray for Your Spiritual Leaders
Let me urge you to pray for your pastor. This may seem a very commonplace remark, but the act spoken of is no commonplace thing. More depends upon this than we could imagine. See with what earnestness the apostles urged the churches to pray for them, showing what an important matter they regarded it to be.
A minister is in a prominent position. His every action and movement is watched and talked about. He is a target for every gossiping and malignant tongue to shoot at. He is a man with like passions with others, exposed to peculiar temptations, and Satan knows that if he can cause him to fall, the injury done to the cause of truth will be very great. We may be sure, therefore, that the enemy will try every hellish dart to bring him down.
The leader needs the prayers of God’s people as a man that he may receive more than common supplies of grace, that he may be an example to the flock and be of good report to all. And he needs the prayers of the faithful as a minister, that the Holy Spirit may be with him in his studies and in his public ministry.
If the Holy Spirit is not with him, his best efforts will utterly fail. If he fails to get the attention of sinners, their minds will grow darker and their hearts harder under the preaching of the Word. If the minister fails, the congregation will not be interested as they ought, and will be listless. How sad to a truly godly minister if, while preaching those great truths that thrill all heaven with delight, he sees some sleeping, some yawning, some gazing vacantly around, and frequently consulting their watches, as if thinking more of their dinners than the great business of the sanctuary. Yet all this is often seen when the sermon is worthy and well delivered and when the best part of the week has been given to its preparation.
Let the Spirit of God be poured out, and the same sermon will bring a different state of things! A deep solemnity will pervade the entire congregation. Attention is focused on the preacher. Tears stream down some faces. The hardened sinner trembles. Some saints seem ready to shout, "It is the Lord’s doings, and it is marvelous in our eyes!" A mighty wave of salvation will roll over the congregation. When preacher and people separate, they will feel it was good to have been there. This is the state of things that God gives to a praying people—to a people that plead and wrestle before God in private for their minister.
On this subject Charles G. Finney says: "I have seen Christians who would be in an agony when the minister was going into the pulpit…for fear he should have no unction, and so a blessing would not come. I have labored with a man of this sort. He would pray until he got an assurance in his mind that God would be with me in preaching…."
Again Finney says: "I have known a church bear their minister on their arms in prayer from day to day, and watch to see that he has the Holy Ghost with him in his labors. When they feel and pray thus, oh, what feelings and what looks are manifest in the congregation! They have prayed to have the Word come with power and take effect, and when they see their prayer answered, and they hear a word come warm from the heart and take effect among the people, you can see their souls look out of their eyes.
"How different is the case where the church feels that the minister is praying, and so there is no need of their praying. They are mistaken. The church must desire and pray for the blessing. God says He will be inquired of by the house of Israel. I wish you to feel that there can be no substitute for this."
– From First Words To New Christians by Robert Boyd. Moody Press.