By Shirley Buxton
“… what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God?”
Paul addressed both the Roman and the Corinthian churches, noting they had been “… called to be saints.” Romans 1:7 and I Corinthians 1:2. Of no small import is such an understanding. To have been called into the position of saint is a prominent honor which should never be disregarded nor disparaged. It is a high calling—of heavenly origin. Such calling extends far beyond that of human summons to take on a transcendent nature, accurately denoted to be within the scope of the highly spiritual.
Many preachers agree that far too long some facets of the work of God have been relegated solely to the ministry, when in fact much of the advancement of the kingdom of God could be assumed by the laity. Once a group of saints understands the authority and power that reside within them, it produces a dynamic church. This is not to diminish preachers, nor is it a failure to recall the respect they deserve. We must have the ministry. We cannot be saved without them. To emphasize this, I again direct you to Paul. To the church at Corinth, he thunders that we are saved by preaching. I Corinthians 1:21 An awakened, anointed saint will do nothing save to enhance and augment the work of her pastor.
It is timely to examine those attributes of which a sterling saint is comprised. Much of the material in this chapter will pertain also to ministers’ wives, for indeed ministers’ wives are first saints. The thrust though will be toward that of the saint who is not a minister’s wife.
Prime in the true saint is a born-again experience and a subsequent walk in the Spirit. It is impossible to be a saint unless these foundational principles are sanctioned and confirmed. It is beyond the scope of this book to delve deeply into the New Testament plan of salvation, but the sterling saint will be sure of her salvation. You will search the scripture for yourself. It is not enough to “parrot” the words of the preacher; you must know what constitutes salvation. How does a true Christian look, act and think? Ask questions of your pastor. Read the Bible. Cherish His Word. Feed on it. Communicate daily with the Master. Love the holy life.
You will endear yourself to the pastor if you have an understanding of what it means to extend the arms of the pastor and his family. You will call people who are absent from church, not asking for an accounting, but telling them sincerely how much they are missed. You will offer to pray and help with any situations that may have arisen, while carefully refraining from unnecessary inquisitiveness. Never will you gossip. Never. At all.
The outstanding saint will be protective of her pastor. You will “guard his back,” defending him against critics and naysayers. Look to the good qualities of the pastor and of his family, recognizing that he is human, that he is fallible and that he will make mistakes. There will be times when he judges wrongly. There may be occasions he says things he doesn’t mean. (If you feel prone to judge in this area, first take on extensive public speaking yourself. Try speaking hour after hour, day after day, week after week. See if you ever misspeak yourself. See if your spouse hears you say something you were not aware of saying, something you intended to say in a finer way.)
Make exceptions for your pastor. Is he very young, is he aging, has he been sick, is he fatigued or inexperienced? Is he perhaps not perfect? Again, I encourage you to analyze the disciples Jesus chose. Look to the good qualities of your pastor. Pray for him. Encourage him. Tell him you are praying. Tell him that you love him. At the end of a sermon, let him know what a blessing his preaching is. Name specific points that ministered to you.
Pay tribute to the pastor and his family in every possible way. Honor them on special days—birthdays, anniversaries, Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days. Take them out to eat. Invite them to your home for a meal. The church should set aside a Pastor Appreciation Week. See that they can afford a vacation. Bake them a cake or pie or a pan of enchiladas.
Remember the other ministers in your church—from the very young to the elderly. Honor and esteem them. Another opportunity to show your love for the ministry arises when an evangelist or other visiting preacher spends time at your church. If you are not sure of the appropriate way to serve them, ask your pastor or his wife.
Look around the church and see what needs to be done. Sweep, dust and polish. Volunteer for jobs without worrying who gets the credit. Warmly greet visitors, offering to sit by them and to show them the restrooms and the drinking fountain. Fully support the church with your money and with your time.
To judge others is in direct contradiction to the Word of God. Certainly, you should not judge other churches, other pastors and other saints. No two churches are alike, but differ in varying degrees. Don’t judge them. Be friendly and ready to fellowship with all God’s people even though you may consider that you live by either a higher or a lower standard than does another. Don’t judge. You probably lack full understanding of the situation, and although you may be right in your thinking, there is the possibility that you are wrong. Just don’t judge. Leave it up to God and to the ministry.
Should a saint fall, you will be quick to forgive; you will lift the fallen one and tenderly minister to her needs. You have the vital understanding that at some point in your life, you too will need forgiveness. Mercy flows easily and compassion softens you, as you recall the sinless Jesus who visited Calvary because of your sins. Quick to forgive and full of compassion is the genuine saint.
A tender, gathering spirit marks the saint. Open your home to any who will come. Learn to entertain. Offer to help the pastor’s wife when she has guests, and begin to entertain at your own home. Nothing elaborate is required. A pot of soup, a few crackers and a dynamite group of women make for a fine party. My daughter, Rebecca, frequently invites single women to her house for easy meals. At times, they have gone to Starbucks, and, being short of money, ordered only one dessert which they all shared.
To present yourself worthy of this great calling is of immense value. Through no goodness of your own, you have been selected, chosen by God and set apart. Isn’t that a wondrous thought! Your conduct should always reflect this godly identity. Our distinctive appearance should be appealing and looked upon as a mark of excellence. You will remember these things as you open your closet door and choose the clothing that will enable you to appear smartly and appropriately dressed. Your long hair “… is a glory…” (I Corinthians 11:15) and will be arranged beautifully, shiny and sparkling clean.
Called to be saints. What a tremendous joy. What unearthly opportunity.
This above article, “Sterling Qualities in a Saint,” is excerpted from pages 20-23 of Shirley Buxton’s Link to Excellence.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.