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I Only Work Sundays

1 Corinthians 4:1-21

 

 

I speak tonite about my favorite person in the world...myself!  Go ahead, admit it, you are your own favorite person.  You take care of yourself better than anyone else, and spend more time in your presence than anyone else’s!  Well, it’s not polite to talk much about yourself, and I only do this because it is next in our verse by verse study.

 

I have learned in my years of being a pastor that everyone knows what the pastor should be doing except me.  That is exactly what Paul was saying to this church in Corinth and from the way I see it, things haven’t changed much after all of these years.

 

I hear things like, “Preacher you need to go see so and so.” Or, “Preacher such and such is broken and you need to make sure that gets fixed.” Or, “So and so is unhappy and you need to go find out what you did to them”.

 

I have also learned that many people think their pastor doesn’t do anything except preach on Sundays and he does something on Wednesdays for an hour or so. These people are absolutely amazed when they find out that the pastor works an average of 75 hours a week, never fully off the clock, and that his average lifespan is a good decade shorter than others who don’t face the same spiritual stress.

 

While some think that preachers do nothing others feel like their preacher should do everything at the church. After all, they pay his salary. When I say everything I mean things like plumbing, landscape, cleaning, repair, child care, etc. Maybe this is why so many churches are having problems. Their pastor is not pastoring the church because he is too busy doing everything else.

 

So what does the Bible say a Pastor should be doing? Let’s look at 4 descriptions of a pastor in our text:

 

1 Corinthians 4:1

Description #1: A Servant of Christ

The word minister [servant] in our text means “under rower.” An under rower was a galley slave who rowed a ship from the bottom tier of the ship. These were the “low-lifes” of the slave world. Their job was to move that ship forward for their captain.

 

The pastor is to be an under rower for the Kingdom of God. He is to move the church forward for the captain of the ship. Who is the captain? It is God.

 

I can’t expect anyone to do any work I won’t do.  I must lead by example.  It’s not do as I say…

 

There are 3 very important points I must make about the Pastor being a slave:

« First, who does the pastor serve? God.

« Secondly, who tells the pastor where to row? God.

« Thirdly, does this make the Pastor any more important to God than anyone else? Absolutely not.

 

1 Corinthians 4:2

Not only is the Pastor to be an under rower, he is also described as...

 

Description #2: A Steward

It is interesting that Paul says that a Pastor is to be an under rower, which was a very insignificant slave; and then he turns right around and says that the Pastor is to be a steward, which was a very influential slave. A steward was a slave who was given the responsibility of managing the master’s house. Our text tells us that God has entrusted His Word to Pastors and that they need to be faithful in the management of that Word. This is not saying that God’s people are not supposed to study His Word on their own. What it does mean is that the Pastor should focus his time on the study, preaching, and teaching of the Word of God.

 

vv. 3-5

Now as an under rower for Christ and one who is entrusted with the Word of God comes much criticism. People want to have things done their way and as long as that happens it is fine, but if that changes watch out. But, Paul says, “I don’t care if you talk bad about me.” As a servant and steward for Christ what people think doesn’t really matter. What matters is what God thinks.

 

This also brings up the fact that as God’s people if we would do what God is asking us to do and not worry so much about what others are not doing we would not have so many problems. See, if you are focused on the fact that someone else is doing their job wrong and you are spending your time critiquing them; then you probably aren’t getting your job done. It goes back to the fact that most Christians are sitting in the bleachers yelling out to the coach and those playing in the game about how badly they are doing. What that person needs to do is zip it and get in the game and they would find out that the way they thought it was may not be reality.

Ill.—Presidents change once they sit in the big chair and see how it really is.

 

1 Corinthians 4:9-13

So far the Pastor has been described as a servant and a steward. The Pastor is also described as...

 

Description #3: A Spectacle, v. 9

The fishbowl!  The Pastor is on display to everyone around him. The Pastor is held to a higher standard by the world than other Christians. Is that fair? Of course not, but that is how it is. If a man is caught having an affair it’s not a big deal to the world, but if a minister is caught doing the same thing it is national news.

 

The Pastor might as well get used to criticism because it is going to happen. Many Pastors leave the ministry because it is hard to live in a “glass house” where every word and action is judged, but it happened back then and it still happens today.

 

Notice that verses 12-13 tell us that Pastors are expected to handle problems and criticism like God would handle it, not like the world. Paul was also trying to cause them to understand that they ought to be living a godly life because they too were children of God.

 

1 Corinthians 4:14-16

The Pastor is to be a servant of Christ, a steward of the Word, a spectacle to the world, and...

 

Description #4: A Spiritual Mentor

Paul tells the Corinthians that he looked at them as his spiritual children and he was their spiritual father. He wasn’t saying he was in the place of God but he was saying he was going to lead them by example. He was also going to correct them through the Word.

 

A Pastor should be regarded as a spiritual father. The Pastor should be concerned for the security, comfort, and growth of the congregation God has called him to.

 

When God’s people are doing wrong, the Pastor has to allow God to speak through him the words of correction. Not out of vengeance, but out of love. I believe people think that Pastors enjoy preaching “harsh” sermons, but the simple fact is the Pastor better preach and do as God calls him to. This series in 1 Corinthians is an unpopular series in some circles because Paul let this church have it over and over again, but it was only because that is precisely what God knew they needed and obviously it is what God knows we need.

 

I was 14 years at my first church and some tough times, especially early on. The moment I figured out that God called me to pastor the church and not to be popular at the church was the moment that God really began to use me.  When I stopped trying to please everyone is when things started to click.

 

You are no different. When you stop worrying about what others think, or what others are doing; and start being concerned about what you are supposed to do for God, then God will begin to use you.

 

You have heard what God has called me to do as your Pastor. I pray that you would serve where God has called you to serve so that I may be able to serve God faithfully.  Please pray for me as I do for you.

 

Here’s 4 reasons to pray for your pastors every day: [may sound selfish, but true]

 

1.     Restoration – Bring back the glory of the ministry and the church.  The office of pastor needs a restoration of respect and trust, given away by the last 40 years of scandals that have given us all a black eye.

 

Each of these did wrong, but all of us suffered.

 

We know the names of those who fell, but you don’t know the names of regular joes out there who are serving faithfully.

 

2.     Limitations – mine, specifically!  This is easy to agree with when I say it, but hard to remember when I disappoint you:  “Human imperfection includes preachers.”

 

God paints His men in the Bible warts and all, and I’m glad [examples]

 

I’m not trying to excuse my mistakes in advance…I’m asking, Will you pray for me?

 

3.     Expectations – Hundreds and thousands look to the pastor, and all have different expectations.  And you should, and you should make them known, but if I’m going to be able to amount to much, I’ll need your prayers!

 

Of course, my real goal cannot be to please everyone, but to please God, and that makes my point all the more…I need prayer!

 

4.     Qualifications – No other profession requires a job description like that of a pastor. 

 

Will you pray for me?  Prayer is the oil that greases the wheels.

[some points from Shawn Drake]

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