1 Thessalonians 5:13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.I don’t need to tell you to love pastors, do I? You know that. We are supposed to love everyone and that even includes pastors. But the real issue is this: what kind of love are you going to use? Many use common place, run-of-the mill, wait-and-see love. Only some use supernatural, unilateral, preemptive, supernatural love.What’s the difference?Here’s a zany, far-fetched, “over-the-top” illustration: You get a new pastor who uses his next ten years to vastly exceed all your hopes and expectations. He’s a careful scripture student who has memorized the whole Bible except, of course, the Song of Solomon, which is just fine because pastors shouldn’t be interested in that kind of stuff, anyway. When he preaches, his sweet melodious voice almost sounds like music. His sermons make you laugh and make you cry. They lift your spirits to the brink of heaven without ever making you feel guilty.The whole worship service is always inspiring. The pastor just happens to like the very same songs that you do and his wife accompanies them on the piano.The pastor is also a caring shepherd. He makes fifty calls a week, holding the hands of the hospitalized and invalids, connecting with church visitors, and giving specialized attention to all the members. Since his wife has the spiritual gifts of hospitality and Martha Stewartship, they entertain people at their home several nights a week. Displaying their cute personalities, the pastor’s talented children often pull out their musical instruments and gospel puppets and provide little shows.Through the pastor’s leadership the church is constantly growing but never so fast that you have to go to two services or learn a bunch of new names. He is always providing fresh new programs that are novel and yet don’t require any change.

Best of all is the way that the pastor has so lovingly cared for you. When your last child was born, he got to the hospital before the ambulance and even delivered the baby when the doctor fainted. Your two families have grown so close that you have weekly game nights and go on vacations together. He laughs at your jokes, marvels at your salt shaker collection, and enjoys painting your house and fixing your car.

But all of that is over now. For today you are at his funeral remembering his life. He wasn’t a perfect man – after all, he did struggle with the sin of workaholism, but he was pretty close. How did he die? As a martyr. He stepped in front of you to take a bullet that your deranged, atheistic neighbor had shot at your chest. If your pastor had to die, you figure that was a pretty good way for him to go.

How much did you love this man? Bunches! Considering all of his virtues and good deeds, you couldn’t help but love him. But though you loved him with a great deal of love, did you love him with a great love? No way.

Reciprocal love is the cheap stuff that any off-the-street Tom, Dick or Mary can muster up. To bless your pastor with the gift of unconditional love, you need the kind of God-sized love that emanates from your will and is divinely empowered. It is the love that you give to your pastor before you even get to know him. It is the kind of love that you continue to give him even when you do get to know him and all of his faults and foibles. It is Christ’s kind of love. In John 15:12, Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” For emphasis he repeats himself in verse 17, “This is my command: Love each other.” Simple, huh? Easy? No.

The highest form of love begins as a choice. It doesn’t require much spirituality to love the pastor that demonstrates great preaching skills, gentle pastoral care, and wise leadership. But spirit-filled Christians won’t wait until their pastors earn love with their performance. They will choose to love their pastors now and rely upon God’s resources to reinforce that love.

Dr. Ed Wheat, in his book, Staying in Love for a Lifetime, summarizes this choice. “Love is an active power that I can control by my will. I am not the helpless slave of love. I can choose to love…

  • Real love is not mysterious or irrational.
  • Real love is not a simple, easy, doing what comes naturally.
  • Real love is not an uncontrollable feeling.
  • Real love is not produced by trying to attract it.
  • I can understand what love is through the Word of God.
  • I can learn the art of loving.
  • I can choose to love.
  • I can produce by giving it first and giving it wisely…
  • Love is an active power to be controlled by the will.
  • Love is always a choice backed up by action.
  • Love is costly even when giving is pure joy.

Don’t just offer love to those who deserve it, present it to everyone as a free gift. The old English word for this kind of love is charity. Charity expresses the grace concept of a generous grace gift.

Sometimes that is easy; sometimes it is difficult. You may have a pastor that rubs you the wrong way. It could even be that he feels the same way about you! Whenever we are struggling to love someone, it is time do a spiritual check-up on our heart. If we don’t love the unlovable than we are using the wrong kind of love. Jesus asks, “If you love those who love you what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that… but love your enemies, do good to them… Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6: 32-36)”

I don’t think Jesus is condemning a natural kind of “because of” love that is drawn to others due to their attractive traits. We all enjoy that dimension of love in our marriages, families and friendships. What He is saying is that children of the Most High have access to a deeper, supernatural “in spite” of love that can be aimed at anyone. Anyone.

God loves people not because they are loveable but because He is loving. By God’s power, you can do the same. Ask the Lord to do a miracle so that your heart beats in sync with his. Then, as an act of the will, determine to love your others. Even pastors. Reinforce that decision with the actions that compliment love and allow the feelings to follow. And, count on it, they will.

  • Choose with your will to love unconditionally and permanently.
  • Choose to learn how to love from Jesus the Master Lover.
  • Choose to link your heart with God’s and to allow His love to flow through you to pastors.
  • Choose to treasure them and pray for their benefit.
  • Choose to communicate your love in languages that the recipient grasps.
  • Choose to demonstrate your love with costly sacrifice.
  • Choose to grow your knowledge of your pastor(s) and to aim your love at their points of need.
  • Choose to actively do the best for your pastor.
  • Choose to give them what they need most – the assurance of being totally and permanently loved.

Love is not just a choice, it is a verb. It is more than an attitude; it is action. Look for ways to lovingly care for pastors. Your pastor could really profit from your help and love. To some measure, the effectiveness of their ministry to the church is dependent upon the quality of the church’s ministry to them.

Your unconditional, volitional, sacrificial love will not only benefit your pastor, it will also transform you. Love is the gift that blesses the giver as much as the recipient.

Imagine standing before the throne of God and hearing this question, “How well have you cared for your pastors?” How would you answer? Some day you will give an account. I’m confident that your loving acts will be remembered for eternity.

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