By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
LAST OF TWO PARTS
“But we request of you, brothers and sisters, that you appreciate those who diligently work among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you respect them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.”
— 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
Church Responsibility to Church Workers
And so, how did Apostle Paul want members of the church to respond and react to church workers? Apostle Paul mentioned at least three things for us to consider, even as we celebrate Church Workers’ Sunday.
First of all, Apostle Paul says that we are to honour and appreciate those who work diligently among us.
Being a pastor is a 24 hours duty, seven days a week. And if a church worker had given all his time and efforts, his resources and his life to serve the church, and yet still receive bitter criticisms instead of kind words of appreciation and encouragement, surely, human as he is, he would experience being burnout and might quit the ministry.
This reminds me of Former Senator Jovito Salonga. His father is a pioneering UCCP pastor in Pasig. In fact, I had the chance to serve in the church in Pasig put up by his father. He made a confession onetime as to why he did not become a pastor himself. He said, “I would not mind eating dried fish almost every morning, sometimes none at all; I would not mind my father receiving a meagre salary. But what I could not take are the unfounded criticisms of church members against my father, even if he was giving all his life for the ministry. They criticize even the way he would wear his necktie. That I could not take. That’s why I decided to be a lawyer, instead of being a pastor.”
Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why very few young people are answering the call for the Christian ministry.
I became a pastor when I was only nineteen years old. And in spite of all the hardships and difficulties in the ministry, I remained in the ministry up to now, I must confess, partly because of the kind words of encouragement and appreciation I received from my mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers in the faith, especially in my formative years as a minister of God.
Secondly, Apostle Paul also says that we are to respect very highly our church workers because of their work.
If we look at Biblical history, all those servants of God who received great respect and recognition were not morally perfect as persons. But they received such great acknowledgement because of their work.
Noah was a drunkard, Abraham was a liar, Moses was a murderer, David was an adulterer, Solomon had so many wives, Peter denied the Lord, Paul persecuted the church… we can go on listing down all the great men and women in Biblical history, and we do realize that they were given great respect and recognition, not so much because of their person – certainly they were not perfect human beings like us – but because of their work.
In the Scriptures, great acknowledgement is given to people, not because of any qualities they may possess, but only on the basis of the divine task to which they are called. When David had the chance to kill King Saul, he never did, because according to him, it is a great sin against God to kill a servant of God. We do hope and pray that those who are killing our church workers would realize this, and give them due respect as servants of God. Needless to say, we already have quite a number of church workers in my church who were killed in cold blood.
And finally, Apostle Paul also says that we are to respect church workers in love. We show respect and honour to our church workers not out of fear, or out an unwilling submission to the power of their position as servants of God, but out of love and gratitude to God for their services to the church and for the sake of the Gospel.
Let us listen once again to what Apostle Paul is saying to the Church at Thessalonica – and through them – also to us at the present time. He is saying to us, “… honour and appreciate those who diligently work among you and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction… respect them very highly in love because of their work” (1 Th. 5:12-13). And may God bless us all and give us peace. Amen. # nordis.net