In our last three posts, we covered honoring the Lord, people in general, parents, older people, and public officials. We should also teach our children to honor people within the church family — especially those in leadership.
Honor church leadership by giving.
We are told in 1 Timothy 5:17, 18, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn.’ And, ‘The laborer is worthy of his reward.'”
Above all, we honor the Lord by giving generously in the offering, but we also honor our church leaders in this way. Our giving ensures that expenses are met and pastors and their families are not in want. Elders who do well at teaching the Word and those who lead capably are to be especially honored by our giving. The idea that pastors should be “kept poor to keep them humble” is ungodly. Paul said that those who labor for the Lord are worthy of being compensated accordingly.
Children can be taught the concepts of cheerful giving and tithing (giving 10% of one’s income) at an early age. Are they paid for chores, or do they get an allowance? Help them to set aside the 10%. Create in them an excitement about contributing in the offering. Be a powerful, positive example by modeling cheerful giving of your finances.
Honor leaders by speaking well of them.
Paul goes on in 1 Timothy 5:19, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder, except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” Do you “have the pastor for lunch” at your house — criticizing him over Sunday dinner? We must avoid that, especially by being an example to our children of honoring and respecting church leadership with our speech.
This does not mean if they say something wrong that we have to swallow it whole. We must always measure teaching and preaching by the Bible, using discernment and wisdom. But if they err, there are proper ways to handle that. Grousing about them is not one of them.
There were times we and our children were present when a pastor or traveling speaker said something from the pulpit which was not in line with the Bible. We addressed what was wrong with our children, so that they would know they should not believe what they had heard. We showed them what the Bible had to say on that subject. But we also tried to emphasize that even church leaders need grace and room to grow in their understanding. I wouldn’t say we always achieved this perfectly, but it was our goal.
Honor them by submitting to their leadership.
Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey them who have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they who must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
Submission does not always mean complete agreement. But it does mean we honor their leadership, even if they make mistakes. It also means we receive their correction humbly, just as we would want our children to submit to us, their parents. We can explain to our children that pastors hold a God-given authority to direct the church, just as the father of the family holds that authority in the home. Again, the most effective way to teach this concept is by example, but sharing Bible verses with them which back up the principle is important, too.
The loyalty unit of our book, Character Building for Families, Volume 1, provides detailed, scripted lessons to help you discuss in greater depth with your family how to honor church leadership.
Honor the body of Christ.
We’ve already mentioned 1 Peter 2:17 twice before in this series: “Honor all men…” (Part 1), and “…Honor the king” (Part 3). Sandwiched in between those parts in the verse is still another command: “Love the brotherhood.” Remember that genuine love for others will always cause us to honor them in our behavior. Every member of the body of Christ — particularly in the local congregation — is to be treated with respect. Romans 12:10 further encourages us to “Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another.”
In our home, we also used 1 Corinthians 12:14-27, which explains the church family metaphorically as being like a human body, to help our children understand just how indispensable each person in the congregation is to the rest of us. It’s a wonderful passage to discuss and memorize together, and doing so will leave a Christ-like deposit in your children.
This concludes our series on teaching our children how to honor others. I’d love to get your input on ways you teach honor to your children, and if you can think of other areas where you feel honor should be taught, please share in the comments.
Do you need help in teaching your children about honor? The Deference and Loyalty units in Character Building for Families, Volume 1 can help!