You want to end up with a pastor happily settled and well taken care of. I’ve too often heard church leaders say about a pastor, “We’ll keep him poor and God will keep him humble.” That’s a short-term vision of the gospel and a great way to turn the pastor’s kids against Christianity. That’s a terrible attitude to have toward your new pastor. While the immediate context in 1 Timothy 5 is about the care of widows, Paul states a wider truth in verse 8 when he says, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Friends, if you’re taking on a pastor, you want to make sure he can provide for his family.
Welcome him with a good level of financial support but also with patience. Remember also that the new pastor is just like the bananas you buy at the store—he needs time to ripen and show himself. When you first get him, he’s a little green. You understand that, so just give him a little time. Over the weeks and months and years, his preaching will improve. That will result from some combination of his getting better and your getting more used to him. He’ll have opportunity to serve, to endear himself through baptisms and weddings and funerals. People will join the church under his ministry.
The new pastor will eventually begin looking for his own successor, of course (2 Tim. 2:2). But one thing that will help him to do that with joy is the encouragement that you give him by sharing some of the ways you have benefited under his ministry. This would be a Galatians 6:6 kind of encouragement or 1 Timothy 5:17, where you pray for him and you pay for him. Be generous to him so he can set a model of generosity to others. If you don’t trust his character enough to be generous with him, you shouldn’t hire him in the first place. Encourage him and receive him as a gift from Christ to your church.
Edward Griffin was a faithful Presbyterian pastor of a church for many years in New Jersey. During his last message to the congregation when they were installing his successor, Griffin said: “For your own sake and your children’s sake, cherish and revere him whom you have chosen to be your pastor. Already he loves you and he will soon love you as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.”
Do you understand how fruitful good authority is? Last words are always significant, particularly in Scripture. Consider the last words of David, the great king of ancient Israel, recorded in 2 Samuel 23:
Now these are the last words of David: The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel: The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue. The God of Israel has spoken; the Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth. (vv. 1–4)
Brothers and sisters, do you realize how good a gift good authority is? In a fallen world, we tend to think authority is by nature bad. We think of authoritarianism and abuses of authority. Certainly, abuses of authority are among the worst, if not the worst, blasphemies against God. But we all know how every kid wants to be on the team with the good coach. Everyone invites the kids with the good parents. Everyone wants to be in the company where you have the good boss. Good authority, David says here, blesses those underneath it. It causes them to be fruitful and grow up. Good authority is not fundamentally for those exercising the authority. It’s for the blessing of those under that authority. It’s a privilege and a stewardship for the one holding the authority.