The Baptist Pillar ©      Brandon Bible Baptist Church     1992-Present

"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Duties Owing to a Pastor

J. Fletcher

From The Baptist Pulpit of the United States, 1850

The first duty of a church to its pastor is that of submission to his righteous and scriptural authority. That the exhortation addressed by Paul to the Hebrew believers to obey them that had the rule over them was intended to refer to ministers is evident from the fact that the word here expressive of authority corresponds with one of the titles applied to them—that of bishop or overseer; and that the churches are exhorted to remember them that had spoken to them the Word of God, or in other words, preached to them the gospel.

Everyone acknowledges a minister to be an officer, and the principal officer in the church; and an office without authority is a solecism. But the authority of a pastor is neither that of a lord, nor a lawgiver; but he is the organ of the Divine law and possesses executive power. The rule, then, to which a church is required to yield obedience and subjection, is not the will of the minister, but the will of Christ. The minister goes forth as the ambassador of Christ to enforce his laws, and preside over the interests of his militant kingdom. He is clothed with authority from the throne, and whosoever refuses to obey him, while he adheres to his written instructions, refuses to hear and obey Him that sent him.

It is the duty of the members of a church to attend regularly upon the ministrations of their pastor. The great object for which a church call and settle a pastor is that he may prepare for them from week to week a spiritual repast; and if he fails to do this, rather than treat his ministrations with contempt, and thus bring into disrepute the sacred office, let him be dismissed from his charge.

It is said by an eminent writer on etiquette, that "a dinner engagement should be regarded as particularly binding and as imposing an obligation to be strictly punctual." But how many church members are there who in such a case would allow no ordinary incident to disappoint the expectations of a friend, and who for no trifling reason would violate the rules of etiquette? Yet, for the slightest cause they do not hesitate to absent themselves from the spiritual repast prepared for them by their pastor, and thus treat him who has cherished the most anxious solicitude for their eternal welfare, and tasked his powers to the utmost for their good as though he had no sensibility.

Suppose a neighbor should express a wish to dine with you, and you had been at the trouble and expense of making suitable preparation, and fixing on a day named by him. Would it not wound your feelings were he subsequently to make another engagement for the same time, and comply therewith to the neglect of the previous one? How then do you suppose the steward of the mysteries of God feels when you slight the entertainment which, by the direction of the Great Master of the feast, he has prepared, and in the preparation had special regard to your highest, your eternal interests?

It is not only the duty of church members to attend upon the ministrations of their pastor, but they should attend to them. Their decorous deportment and serious attention should evince an ardent desire to receive the truth in the love of it. No listlessness or sleeping should be indulged during the solemnities of divine worship. A member of a church, who sleeps under the dispensations of Divine truth, not only renders God a spiritless sacrifice, but offers a public insult to his pastor, and owes a public apology to the congregation.

Another duty of church members to this pastor is to remember him in their prayers. It indeed appears strange that so plain a duty as this need be enjoined upon any church or any Christian. We would naturally suppose if a professor of religion ever prayed at all, or for anything, it would be for him from whom he expected spiritual instruction and Divine consolation. But alas! It is not so. How often do the members of our churches assemble together professedly for prayer, and offer their supplications before the throne, without even remembering him on whom rests the responsibility of feeding them with knowledge and understanding?

Can such Christians feel their dependence upon Divine influences? Do they realize that without Christ their pastor can do nothing? The duty of a church to pray for their pastor is most forcibly enjoined by Divine authority. We hear an inspired apostle, with great importunity, saying, "I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me." (Rom. 15:30)

As though the prayers of the church were of the greatest, yea, of the very last importance to the successful labors of a minister of the gospel, we hear even the chief of the apostles with much entreaty, saying to the church at Thessalonica, "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified." (II Thess. 3:1) Yea, these ancient preachers, though inspired, did not expect any freedom in their ministrations without an interest in the prayers of the saints. Hence we hear them saying, "Praying always…for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel." (Eph. 6:18, 19)

If, then, these inspired men of God were so dependent on the Spirit's influences for success in preaching the gospel, and those influences were secured only in answer to the prayers of their brethren, how can the ministers of the present day even hope for a blessing to accompany their labors, unless the church help together by prayer to God for them? Oh then, my brethren, if you would have the labors of your pastor prove a blessing to you, and a blessing to the world, remember him in your prayers.

But remembering them who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God means something more than merely praying for them; or merely saying, "Be ye warmed, and be ye filled, while you give them not the things which are needful in this life." (James 2:16)

Hence we remark that it is the duty of a church to give their minister a competent support. This is a duty founded upon the principles of common justice, and enforced by the express authority of the sacred Scriptures. Hence the apostle reasons, "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your carnal things?" (I Cor. 9:11)

If an individual should risk his life to save your child's, would it be too great a demand on your gratitude for him to require of you the hospitalities of your house, or a suit of clothes even if his necessities demanded? And shall the servant of God, who devotes all his energies to your spiritual benefit, and to the eternal salvation of your children, have less claim on your gratitude, than he who saved the life of your child? The duty of supporting a minister is enjoined upon the church, both under the old and the new dispensations.