Esteem Leaders Very Highly

Esteem Leaders Very Highly

"And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.” – 1 Thessalonians 5.12-13

The Main Point: Respect the leaders of our church so that we will be at peace as a congregation.

The Big Picture: God ordains leadership. Throughout the New Testament, leaders are given certain responsibilities on how to lead, but in this passage, Paul tells the members that they have certain responsibilities in being led. Esteem leaders very highly in love. Not to put them on a pedestal, but to acknowledge the work they are doing. Then be at peace.

The point for us is that we should respect the leaders of our church. Why? It is not because the leaders are innately special; it is because of their labor. The work of church leadership is a 24/7 job. This labor should be acknowledged and admired for the work’s sake. Additionally, Paul reminds us that our leaders are over us in the Lord. The leaders of our congregation are appointed based on God’s word, so their position of leadership is according to what God has designed for the church. We should most certainly recognize and esteem our leaders.

How We Can Live This Out:

  • Criticize only when absolutely necessary.

There is a time to bring legitimate criticisms to the elders, but this should only be when absolutely necessary. Contrary to those of the world, we should be more inclined to appreciate than to criticize. There are many decisions that our leaders have to make, but instead of focusing on what you think they should have done differently, be grateful that we are blessed with laborers willing to lead. There is a time to criticize, but if we are criticizing too often then we will not be esteeming our leaders highly in love. Instead of criticizing a hard decision, tell the elders how much you appreciate their work. Instead of thinking about how you would have done something differently, volunteer for a work that the elders need help with. If we are focused on how we can be active members and contribute to the work, then we will not be as critical of our leaders.

  • Recognize laborers for their work’s sake.

This passage speaks directly to how we treat our church leaders, but the principle can be applied to how we treat every member. We should recognize other members for the work that they are doing. This could be as simple as finding your child’s Bible class teacher and saying, “Thank you for teaching my child’s Bible class! He really enjoys your lessons.” There is so much work being done, and it is important we recognize it.

  • Be at peace among yourselves.

Do not let the brevity of this last instruction take away from its importance. The downfall of many congregations has been complaining about its leaders instead of recognizing the good work that is being done. Leaders are known for being criticized. The Israelites complained about Moses every time he did something that they did not understand. Today, Americans seem to complain about every leader and every decision that is made in Washington. Certainly, the Lord’s church should not have this culture of complaining. We should be a group that is known for being at peace and recognizing our leaders. Remember the instruction in Hebrews 13.17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

Go Deeper: Check out these related passages if you want to study the topics of this article further.

1 Corinthians 16.15 – 18 — Example of Paul recognizing laborers

1 Timothy 3.1 – 13; Titus 1.5-9 — Qualifications of deacons and elders

1 Peter 5.1 – 4 — Exhorting elders

– William Speer