Paul challenged the church elders of Ephesus, saying, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd [pastor] the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).
The Son of God paid a high price for the church to exist, so it must be protected, nurtured and highly valued regardless of its flaws.
The responsibility to “take heed” of the church primarily falls on the shoulders of the elders who serve as overseers and shepherd–pastors of the congregation of believers. To “take heed” means to “bring near, bring a ship to port, turn the mind to, or attend to.”
The elders were to lead the ministries and train the church to fulfill its function as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that [they] may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called [them] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9).
Leadership is a fragile position. One cannot demand, manipulate, or intimidate to receive authority in the eyes of the congregation. Authority must be given voluntarily to a leader who has proven trustworthy by his example.
He must be “counted worthy”—-that is, he must be given “honor,” which has a broad meaning from “respect” (as in 1 Tim 6:1) to the “privilege of financial support,” as was to be given to the widows (1 Tim 5:3, 9–-10).
In our text, the congregation is mandated to “honor,” especially by financial support, the elders who “provide effective leadership” or, literally, “have been ruling well”: this is from a word meaning “to preside, lead, shepherd, or guide.” The leaders have the responsibility to minister and therefore must be given the authority to lead. Other believers must “continually count them as worthy” or “reckon them as deserving or meriting something.”
This honor is “especially” to be given to “those who work hard in speaking and teaching.” To “work hard” is to “work to the point of exhaustion”; “speaking” (Gk. logos) means a “speech” or public proclamation of the truth in exhortation and admonition.
“Teaching” implies the doctrines and commands of the Scripture “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This labor is spent in preparation for both preaching and teaching (as evident in content, clarity, and application) as well as multiple meetings proclaiming the word. What a privilege! How do you show your honor to your leaders?
“Thank You, Lord, for the leaders You have placed in my life and for their commitment to teach and practice Your word as an example to me.”