This week I played hooky from work and attended the PRO-AM of the 2010 Senior PGA Tournament that is being held at the new Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colorado. The golf club is just a few miles from our new QuietWaters Retreat Center which is also in Parker. For those golfers attending a Leadership Counseling Intensive at the Retreat Center you won’t be able to play at the Colorado Golf Club because it is a private club. However other public courses are close by.
If you are not familiar with a PRO-AM, it is four amateur golfers playing with a touring professional player. The rumor was that each amateur paid $2,500 for the opportunity to play. For you golfers, they played a modified scramble they call a stramble.
To play as a professional in the Senior PGA you must be 50 years or older. Being over 50 myself I knew the names of most of the professional players. Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Tom Watson, Fuzzy Zoeller, and Ben Crenshaw were just a few of the players I was able to see play.
As I watched the start of the PRO-AM I noticed something that I found very interesting. As the professional player was introduced there was loud applause, but when the amateurs were introduced there were only a few isolated hands clapping.
This scene reminds me of what James says in James 2:1, “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” Was the crowd showing favoritism? Remember the professional players are well known because they have played for many years and have demonstrated their expertise in golf. The crowd doesn’t know how well the amateur players can play. Only their close friends knew them, thus the scattered applause.
Now look at the words Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:17, “The elders who direct the affairs of the Church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching”. Or the words he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13, “Now we ask you brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work”.
I don’t believe that favoritism is the same as showing double honor or holding in highest regard. There may have been a little of both taking place during the introductions at the PRO-AM. However, the professional players have worked hard at perfecting their ability at golf and they have played the game well. So they deserve to be respected for that ability.
Notice the qualifiers in the above verses. In 1 Timothy it says, “who direct the affairs of the Church well” and in 1 Thessalonians it says, “who work hard among you’. Also notice that the favoritism in James was bestowed because of wealth and wearing fine clothes, not service.
Although I would have preferred to have every player receive loud applause, I believe that it was understandable and even O.K. for the professionals to receive double the applause – double honor. They have played well and have worked hard at the game of golf. Yes, a few of them were wearing fine golf clothes, most of which was given to them by the manufacturer. The clothes were not the reason they were receiving applause.
In the church you are the professional. The one called to preach and teach. So as the professional golfers received loud applause, you are worthy of double honor and to be held in highest regard. I think it would be great if each Sunday as you stepped into the pulpit you received loud applause from your congregation. I’m sorry to say that’s not going to happen unless it is a special occasion.
However, you are worthy of double honor, because your work is preaching and teaching and you should be held in the highest regard in love because of your work. But before that statement goes to your head, remember the qualifiers. Those qualifiers are, “. . . who direct the affairs of the Church well are worthy” and “. . . those who work hard among you”.
For the past 10 years, from the founding of QuietWaters, it has been my soap box speech that every congregation should demonstrate both 1 Timothy 5:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13. Every day I talk with pastors where that is not happening, so I continue my speech at every opportunity.
My charge to you pastors is to continue to direct the affairs of the Church well and to work hard among your congregation. If your congregation responds by showing you double honor and holding you in highest regard that will be a blessing. But always remember that the Lord does.