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Pay The Elders

I would say that the churches I have been part of or have visited typically do not pay their shepherds as they rule and oversee the congregation. Yet their is ample evidence from the scriptures that they should be paid when possible for their efforts.

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy ofdouble honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and,“The laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:17-18; ESV)

The “double honor” that elders who rule well deserve are honor/respect and payment for their hard work. The NLT renders this verse, “Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching.” I think this hits the point perfectly. We are ready to pay the preachers, but often are not thoughtful about being in a financial situation to also pay the elders for their work. In fact, it seems the point would be that it would be profitable for the congregation for the elders NOT to have full time jobs but shepherd the church AS A FULL TIME LABOR. The apostle Peter also reveals this point:

Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah, and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: shepherdGod’s flock among you, not overseeingout of compulsion but freely, according to God’s |will|; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you,but being examplesto the flock. (1 Peter 5:1-3; HCSB)

For Peter to warn against elders who may rule because of the power (“not lording it over those entrusted to you”) shows that the elders have authority over the flock and must use that authority appropriately and wisely. In the same way, for Peter to warn against elders who may rule because they want to be paid [“dishonest gain” (NKJV, TNIV)] indicates that in the first century elders were typically paid for their labor. There would not be any worry about elders taking the position for the money if it was rare that they were paid. It seems the opposite was true. Elders were paid for their efforts, but a warning was given to make sure that men do not choose to be elders because they want to be paid. Their motivation is to “according to God’s will” as servants and “examples to the flock.” The motivation is not to be power or money.

Unfortunately our congregation is not in the financial situation to pay our shepherds. But I hope that this is a goal we can reach in the future.

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