By Collin Ross
I’ve never particularly liked watching award shows like the Golden Globes or the Oscars, but I know the general format. An entertainer is called to the front to receive their award and give a short speech. At some point during the speech, it is customary to include a lengthy list of all the people who helped the celebrity achieve the award now in their hands. Those are the scenes that I most enjoy—those moments when people recognize that their success was dependent on the work that others did on their behalf and for their benefit.
I wonder if that would not be a worthwhile practice for Christians to engage. While we are eager to praise God for his saving work in our lives, are we cognizant of the people through whom He accomplished that work? Can we readily recognize the faithful disciples who built up our faith through teaching, preaching, praying, and serving? Who would make your list of people you need to acknowledge and thank for their part in your journey of faith?
Paul instructs the church to honor those men and women who faithfully lead others in the way of Jesus. He writes,
“The elders who are good leaders are to be considered worthy of double honor” (1Timothy 5:17). Every one of us can point to at least one person who has led us to a deeper faith in Christ. In Paul’s words, they are worthy of great honor. We must tangibly thank those who lead well. There are all kinds of ways to show them honor. Write an encouraging note detailing how important their ministry has been in your life. Support them financially by regularly giving to your local church. Pray for them and their families, and let them know that you are doing so.
Even so, it’s important to remember that elders, pastors, and church leaders are not without their faults and flaws. They, like all human beings, are in continual need of grace. Their rhythm of life is the same as everyone else: repentance and faith. The “good leader” is not the one who is without sin—for there is only one who is without sin, Jesus Christ. No, the “good leader” who is worthy of honor is the one who, having sinned, humbly confesses, faithfully repents, and prayerfully seeks reconciliation with the wounded party. These are the ones we should “carefully observe the outcome of their lives” and “imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).
Let us take up Paul’s challenge today and seek to honor our spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. Through their faithful service to Christ, our lives have been changed forever. Even as we glorify the God of our salvation, let us remember the ones who taught us, loved us, and walked with us from the beginning until now. They are worthy of honor.