Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Treating congregation as Family

1 Tim. 5:1-2 (ESV)
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father. Treat younger men like brothers, [2] older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity.
Timothy was a young man, and he was a pastor. I can imagine that even with this saint there was a temptation to pride in the authority given him as a pastor. I’m sure there was a temptation at times to rebuke a few older men. Pastors have that temptation. It is a snare of the devil.
If pastors want to be treated with respect, they need to treat others with respect. It does not lessen your authority to treat others as your father, your mother, your brother or sister, it strengthens your authority with them. I tell people myself that if they have a problem with me, or something I have done or said, even be it public, I would appreciate a private consultation about it. If it is public I will repent of it publicly. But don’t put me on the defensive by publicly attacking me, it is not Christian. Sure public sin can be publicly rebuked, it does not mean it has to be, or always should be. Matthew 18 is good advice even concerning public sin, though it talks about private sin. The same respect should be showed to parishioners. Would you rebuke your father publicly if you though he was wrong? Or might you try convince him privately, so that he could repent publicly? In Christ we are all brothers and sisters.
Treat younger women like sisters, in all purity. Being young, single and pastor can be perilous. Do not, do not date a parishioner if you are not intending on marriage. If you don’t know or don’t think you can marry the girl don’t go to dinner with her, don’t counsel her privately. Skip her house when doing pastoral visits. Find another way to get to know her, talk to her at the potluck. If you take her on a date, and she takes interest in you and you brush her off, or don’t ask for a second date, realize you have just jaded a member. Women don’t take kindly to that. If she is the daughter of a family in your congregation, you have just compromised your relationship with an entire family.
Your congregation is your family. Treat them like that. But not to the expense of your family.

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