“The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” (emphasis added)
– 1 Timothy 5:17 –
Have you ever noticed how some individuals excel, even when they are considered in the group of the elites? One year, during the opening ceremonies of the local community baseball season, a professional baseball player was invited to speak. He was well known in the area for his work ethic and dedication to the game.
As he spoke, he mentioned different mentalities that exist, even amongst those who play professional baseball. He said there were some who realized they had “made it”, and they hit the cruise-control switch. They were already good enough, so they really didn’t have to work that hard. Then there were others who realized that even though they had made it to the Major Leagues, there was room for improvement. These individuals would put the extra time in the training room, weight room, film room, batting cage, and even staying longer on the practice field just to field one more ground ball or catch one more pop fly.
As he came to a conclusion of his speech, he encouraged the kids to be the one who strives to improve, putting in the extra time and effort even when they could rely on their talent to make them a good player. “Why not strive to be a great player,” he challenged. Which as a parent, a coach, and a fan, his words really touched me that day and challenged me in all areas of my life to not simply settle for being “good”, but rather to strive to be “great”.
What does this story have to do with 1 Timothy 5:17 you ask? We have looked at many portions of Scripture to help us have a biblical view of who elders are and the work they are charged with doing. However, this verse from the apostle Paul to a younger evangelist, Timothy, speaks not to simply the work but to how the work is to be approached by the men who serve as elders.
Two words stand out. The first is “well” and the second is a phrase in the English, “work hard”. All elders “rule”, and then there seems to be those who “rule well”. The word “well”, meaning “with excellence”, is an adverb and serves as the emphasis of the first portion of this verse. The second emphasis is found in the phrase “work hard” which means, “to work to the point of fatigue or exhaustion” – referring here to their continual growing in the ministry of the Word. You’ll notice, the amount of work an elder does is not stressed here. Rather, the effort of the elder is front and center and denotes those worthy of double honor.
Always be grateful for elders who “rule well” and “work hard” in the kingdom.
May God bless you this week as you walk with HIM.