"And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour over you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves." 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
In no way does it make light of your personal relationship with God to admire and support your pastor. We all develop at different times in our life. Your pastor has the job of trying to speak to people of all different levels of understanding and levels of commitment to God. It is a difficult job. Your pastor isn't perfect. Paul knew that about the pastors, teachers, apostles, priests and ministry leaders of his day and yet he still admonishes us to esteem them very highly.
You and I both know that there are pastors that do not deserve to be esteemed. They have lost their way. They are confused an they have misaligned loyalties. They are carnal minded and in some cases they have run amuck and shipwrecked. Of course these individuals are not to be esteemed highly as pastors, but even these who once were devoted and doing the work of God need to be loved, rehabilitated and forgiven.
But for the most part Paul is speaking about the majority of pastors that are devoted to seeking and finding the gems that God has strewn through His Word. Most pastors plead with God for wisdom and enlightenment. They have found God in Christ and now they are desiring to be filled with the presence of God. They are not satisfied to follow the status quo. They are emboldened to step out in faith and believe God for everything. They follow God and they are teaching, to the best of their ability, that which they have learned. They can't wait to share some nugget of truth that moved them.
Mature pastors who are serving the Lord in a day by day relationship are even willing to admonish their flock with hard truths, truths that hurt a little, truths that cause one to step out of their comfort zone, truths that step on toes, truths that edify but sometimes crush the ego of those living an un-devoted life/lifestyle. All of these pastors are marrying and burying, dedicating and educating people day in and day out. They deserve whatever good thing you can bring them.
But we have a sickness in the church today. I hope you are no part of it, but if you are, please consider these things:
Your pastor should be paid at least twice what they are getting. How can you esteem someone very highly and at the same time ask them to work for minimum wage or worse? Quit thinking that you are more spiritual than your pastor or that you know more than he does. Your pastor is more likely to play down his true connection with God and the plethora of knowledge that he has so that no one will feel offended. Don't ever say anything about your pastor or any pastor that you didn't see with your own eyes. There is a sickness today with people bashing pastors that they have never even met. That's ungodly. It's one thing to have an opinion about a politician that you don't know anything about, but politicians bring it on themselves. They like the negative banter as well as the positive and in most cases they deserve it, but your pastor is not a politician. He or she is a man or woman chosen by God to be infused with God's wisdom to be shared with others. Be the first to never say anything or report anything about your pastor or any pastor that you didn't see with your own eyes. You will change the world.
Your pastor's wife is off limits. Nothing should be said or reported about the pastor's wife unless it is good. God doesn't need you to help Him keep her straight (in your eyes). Every time you see the pastor's wife you should have the same respect and love for her as for the pastor. She is not to be used to get to the pastor. That's ungodly. She is not to be told how to live or instructed by those who think that the pastor's wife should do everything the way their grandma did it. She is to be esteemed highly because the two are twain. Shower her with gifts; money, things, vacations, time away, gift certificates to the mall, all the things that would bring a smile to someones face are the things you should bring to her. Say good things about her or don't speak at all. Be there like a good friend. The pastor's wife is not your enemy just because the pastor reached your heart with a truth that hurt a little. Get off your high horse and get things in perspective. Be the one in your church that starts a new policy. The 'I will only say and do good things about and toward my pastor's wife policy'. Your pastor's wife has so much responsibility and over so many people. Give her a break and rebuild your relationship with her or move on. Nobody deserves deprecation from a self imposed critic.
Your pastor's kids are off limits. What kind of person would do something harmful or say something harmful about the pastor or his wife in front of their kids? What kind of person would rebuke a child for something they thought their father or mother did? Jesus talks about those kinds of people and he said it would be better if they had never been born.
Even worse what kind of person would let a child suffer in any way to get at their pastor or his wife? I've seen it happen. It's as if they were possessed with an obsession to get at the pastor and the children are simply a stepping stone to climb over or even crush without cause to get their revenge ya yas. These are the people that should be kicked out of the church. Your pastor won't do it. He is entirely too tolerant for his own good, but you on the other hand can put a stop to this kind of evil behavior. Never participate in any conversation about the pastor's kids unless it is to bless them. They are kids and they aren't going to be perfect, nor are they going to be as spiritual as your grandma. Get over it. This is a new generation and these kids must find themselves in this generation. You can't tell them into it. Your story isn't their story. Simply love them unconditionally and you will be following Christ. Nothing else will do.