Table of Duties: The Church and Vocation
“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.’”1 Timothy 5:17-18
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Buzz, buzz, buzz. The Klaxon horn blares and strobes flash all around. Fire alarm! You jump into action, gather yourself, and head to the nearest exit. As a teacher you’ve no doubt had plenty of practice with fire drills. Personally, whenever the fire alarm goes off at work, I go into action quickly. When your office sits on top of four floors of paper, you take any fire risk seriously!
When was the last time you had this same reaction to your pastor’s sermon? For many people in the pew, it’s sometimes a bit difficult to stay focused, let alone react to the message. It helps when we keep in mind that your pastor has been called to speak God’s very Word to you. As Paul reminds Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
But no matter your reaction to the sermon, you owe your pastors honor and respect. The author of Hebrews reminds us, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (13:17). These words also serve to remind us of the huge responsibility pastors have for their congregations, the very “watch over your souls.” Wow!
It’s not always easy to do, because pastors are sinners . . . but then again, so are you. You are a forgiven child of God who hears the words of promise each week from your pastor: “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins” (LSB, p. 185). “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13).
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