12 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.
How often do we criticize the actions of our leaders in comparison to how much we appreciate them? Specifically within the church, we can easily fall into the trap of critiquing the pastor or other ministry leaders for what they don’t do instead of praising them for what they do. We don’t realize the time, energy, and prayer they put into doing their best of what God has called them to do. We don’t appreciate how hard it is to stand in front of a group of people, whether it’s 4 people or 1,000, and speak from the heart. We forget that God has put them there for a reason.
It’s without coincidence that a common theme in my life lately has been “a good leader is a good follower.” Do we not realize that the leaders we have are simply following God? We choose to follow them because they are following Christ. Paul says it plainly, live in peace with one another. I like the fact that he added this here because we usually see it as living in peace with the “rest of the world” or the “congregation” of the church, but we tend to exclude our elders, deacons, ministry leaders, and pastor as part of “one another.” Why is that? Is it because we feel inferior to them? They put their pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us.
Our leaders are human just like we are. They will make mistakes, they will misspeak, they will stumble…but why must we point a finger at them and criticize them like they are supposed to be perfect? You know, I think I am so passionate about this because I noticed the same things about myself. Just as we lift each other up in praise and support and forgiveness, so too we should treat our leaders.
When’s the last time you thanked a leader for being a follower of Christ for you to follow?