There’s tons of talk today on leadership, how to strategize, be more effective, create systems, etc. And I love it. I love things that make sense, are logical, common sense things. So this is not to knock on that, but as I was reading this morning I was reminded of how the Bible has some really great common sense application.
So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.
As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Good News but our own lives, too.
1 Thessalonians 2:3-8
These verses speak to me of motive, and how motive shows itself in actions. These pastors came and poured their lives into these people, not for money, not for fame, not to have fastest growing, most innovative, or coolest church – but to share with them God’s Good News, to feed and care for them as a mother for her own children. And through those motives, this church grew and became one of the founding churches of all of Christianity – how would that be reported in Outreach Magazine?
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Good News to you. You yourselves are our witnessesÃ¢â‚¬â€and so is GodÃ¢â‚¬â€that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.
Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of GodÃ¢â‚¬â€which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
As I read these verses I find myself questioning the whole idea of “paid staff” in church today. I know it’s a necessary evil – but I think it leads to evil as well (don’t get me wrong – I love my job! I wish I could just wish I didn’t have to take a paycheck!). I love how Paul contrasts the motherly role with the fatherly role in these verses. I think of my own children and how they need the nurture and care of their mother along with the playtime and discipline from their father – we love them in different ways; we teach them in different ways; we lead them in different ways.
And I love that this church accepted what their pastor said as the very word of God. A lifestyle of honesty, giving, nurturing, loving, hard work and discipline resulted in leadership that caused people to believe that the words they spoke were the the words of God. And it continued to work through that church even when the “pastors” were gone.
And onto my favorite part:
After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy.
1 Thessalonians 2:19 & 20
What is the reward for being a pastor? A paycheck? Status? People’s acceptance? Being invited to speak at a conference? A book signing? Nope. It’s the lives of people who are changed as they enter a relationship with God and begin to reach their potential, discover their gifts, and learn to love God and others and spend their lives in service to others. That’s the reward – what is better than that?
I always think of the contrast of “leaders” in Christianity. One day there will be two groups standing before the Lord. One that think they’ve reach the pinnacle of leadership and done many successful things in the name of Christ; the other who have faithfully led people into a meaningful relationship with a loving and gracious God, and asked for no earthly reward. One group will be welcomed into the presence of the God of the universe. To the other group, God will say “I don’t even know you…” (Matthew 7:21 & 22). I pray that I will always stay humble and close to God.