1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
Now that is pastoral ministry! Thinking about it, I don’t remember this passage ever being mentioned when I was in seminary, either in class or in a chapel service. How sad! There were some professors who indeed modeled servant leadership, but it seems as though this would have been an ideal passage to use in teaching the students. I think many if not most of the graduates came away feeling like some kind of hotshot, ready to set the Church straight, rather than having the attitude Paul talks about here. I’ll confess I had some of that! Jesus dealt with this subject repeatedly with His closest disciples, most notably when He washed their feet, (John 13:1-17) but we have a strong tendency to forget it. Paul uses the expression “walk worthy” repeatedly in his letters. In a very real sense we can never be “worthy” of God, as we use the word in English, but Paul is using it to mean “appropriately, in line with.” The whole matter of being worthy, and who is worthy and why, is a study I’d like to do some time! As far as we are concerned, our effort should be to get in line with God, to listen to and obey Him, and a pastor should encourage, comfort, and urge those under his care to do so. We get all caught up in “leadership,” when what we need to do most is lead people to be like Jesus, by word and by example.
I can’t say exactly when I came around to this way of thinking, because it has happened gradually. I think my father modeled it, but it was sometimes hard to grasp because he seemed so advanced in so many ways. I myself have never been a “type A personality,” and have had problems setting goals and driving toward them, much less leading others toward them. That has at times been a real hindrance to the ministry here. However, the flip side of that has been a delight in helping people. Yes, sometimes I get irritated at being called on for that sort of thing, but generally it gives me great satisfaction to know that I have been a help. I need to keep growing in that, realizing that the chief goal is exactly what Paul says here: living appropriately as children of God.
Father, thank You for this encouraging Word. Thank You yet again for Your unfailing patience with me when I am so slow to get things right. Thank You for protecting me from more serious injury when I fell yesterday. Guide as I go today to get a couple of x-rays, that they will give accurate pictures of my thumb and toe. I do ask for Your full healing, and that Your purposes in allowing this to happen would be fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!