1 Thessalonians 3
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6
SCRIPTURE: 1 THESSALONIANS 3
Pastors don’t often get to talk about pastors. What I mean by that is pastors don’t often get to talk to their churches about what it means to be a pastor. Sometimes when pastors preach at other churches they get to speak about being a pastor. But we pastors seldom get to talk to our own churches about what it means to be a pastor.
The main reason we pastors don’t do that is we don’t want to appear self-serving. And the other reason is most pastors that I know don’t like the attention on them. The problem with that is churches are not often taught what the Bible says about the office, the role, the ministry, and the heart of a pastor.
Thankfully, Paul talks a lot about being a pastor in this chapter. So we have an opportunity to walk through some of this together. My hope is that this, as well as all the other devotions we have done together, will serve to strengthen the church.
As the chapter opens, Paul is miserable because he is not with the new church in Thessalonica. To help alleviate that Paul was willing to send Timothy back to see how things were progressing. It is interesting that Paul chose young Timothy for this responsibility. Yet, in verse 2, Paul mentions some important characteristics that support his decision. First of all Timothy was a brother. That means he was a Christ follower. Obviously churches need to be led by Christians. Second, Paul describes Timothy as God’s coworker. In other words, he wasn’t a one man show. He was a team player. The church will not thrive for long on the personality of one person. Churches need teams and team leaders to thrive for the long haul.
Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica for a couple of reasons. One reason, in verse 2, was to exhort, encourage and establish the church to stand firm in the faith. Paul knew that they were facing difficult times and were dealing with affliction and persecution. As any good pastor would, he not only grieved that but also wanted to do whatever he could to help those folks walk through that.
The other reason he sent Timothy back was just to get news about the church. In verses 5-10, Paul is rejoicing in the great news he heard from Thessalonica. Even though his own circumstances were less than ideal, he was thrilled that the church was doing well. Even though he was dealing with his trouble, affliction, and persecution, he was glad that things were going well.
Most pastors can’t go for long without thinking about the church. Specifically, most pastors can’t go for long without thinking about the folks in the church: those who are sick; those who are grieving; those who are missing in action; those who are doing well. Most pastors can’t go for long without thinking about what they need to teach the church. Most pastors can’t go for long without praying for the church. The reality is it is hard to separate a pastor from his church.
Verses 11-13 almost read like a doxology. Paul is praying for the Lord’s best to be a reality in the Thessalonian church. He is praying for the church to be steadfast. And Paul is praying that the reality of the return of Jesus would be a great encouragement to his friends there.
Pastoring is unlike any other job because it is a calling. And a man who is called to minister in a church finds his life inextricably intertwined with the folks of that church. When they are hurt, he hurts. When they are good, he is better. When they are gone, he misses them. When they have left the church, he always grieves. When he is away, they are never far from his mind. And so it should be.