Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

1 Thessalonians 5:11-13

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 Paul reminds us that our job is to encourage and build up one another. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” We aren’t just to take comfort, but also to give comfort to those in our patch. If we all do that, every Christ Follower will be comforted. Along with that comfort and encouragement, we are tasked with building up or edifying one another. When we have our first interest in building up other Christians, then God will edify us. The idea is of a church full of active participants, not passive spectators. It isn’t about sitting in the pew but getting into the game.

Hiebert explained further “It is clear that in the primitive churches the care of souls was not delegated to an individual officer, or even the more gifted brethren among them; it was a work in which every believer might have a share.” It is the job of every believer to encourage and build up those in their patch. Paul goes on to talk about how we should work with those who lead us. “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.”

He urges us to do three things to help them:

  • Recognize and respect them
  • Esteem them
  • Be at peace

And when it comes to recognizing leaders – there are three traits Paul lists for us:

  • Leaders are recognized not by their title but by their service.
  • Leaders are recognized as ruling and providing headship through a clear and legitimate order of authority.
  • Leaders are recognized as those who admonish or warn the congregation.

Hiebert further writes “The Greek construction is three participles united under one article, thus indicating that they are not three distinct groups but one class of men discharging a threefold function.”

Beyond recognition and respect, we need to esteem our leaders. We shouldn’t esteem them because of their title, or because of their personality, but because of their labor on behalf of God’s people. Poole wrote “The words in Greek carry such an emphasis as cannot well be expressed in English, importing esteem and love to a hyperbole; their love was to be joined with esteem, and esteem with love, and both these to abound and superabound towards them.” And the third thing – living at peace with one another – is a simple command Paul gave where Christians should simply put away all their squabbles and arguments. This is a great way to esteem and love the leaders of your church.

1 Thessalonians 3:5-7

In 1 Thessalonians 3:5-7 Paul explains why he felt sending Timothy to the church was so urgent. He was very concerned that the faith of the Thessalonians might crumble under this season of affliction, so he sent Timothy to both check on them and to help them. “For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.” Paul recognized that the tempter Satan wanted to take advantage of this time of suffering. Satan wanted to tempt the Thessalonians to give up on God. So Paul wants to get Timothy there as soon as possible.

Why was it so important to Paul. Because if the Thessalonians did waver in their faith, Paul would consider his work among them to have been in vain. Paul didn’t just worry about the possibility of them wandering from their faith. Paul did something to help prevent the Thessalonians from falling away from the faith under their affliction. He sent Timothy to them, because those who are in affliction need the help of other godly people. The enemy wants to isolate us and then cause us to question our faith and our belief in God. His tactics are effective and could destroy all Paul had invested in the Thessalonians and he certainly didn’t want that to happen.

When Timothy returned from his visit to the Thessalonians, he brought good news. The Thessalonians were doing well in faith and love, and Paul helped them to do even better with this letter he wrote. “But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.” Calvin wrote this about the faith and love Paul describes: “In these two words he states concisely the sum total of godliness. All who aim at this double mark are beyond the danger of error for the whole of their life.”

Timothy also brought the good news that the Thessalonians had not believed the vicious and false rumors about Paul. Calvin explains “All pastors are reminded by this of the kind of relationship which ought to exist between them and the church. When things go well with the Church, they are to count themselves happy, even though in other respects they are surrounded by much distress. On the other hand, however, if they see the building which they have constructed falling down, they are to die of grief and sorrow, even though in other respects there is good success and prosperity.” Paul was an amazing Pastor who loved the people dearly and wanted to make sure they stayed the course.

1 Thessalonians 2:6-9

In 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9 Paul continues through his humble and gentle approach to assure the Thessalonians that his mission and motives are pure. “Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.” They never sought glory from man and didn’t need any major fanfare or praise. Paul and his team of ministers got their satisfaction from their relationship with Jesus, not the praise of people. Paul was among the Thessalonians to give something to them, not to take something from them. He did not come making demands as an apostle.

Poole explained Paul’s words this way: “We did not seek men’s honour, high esteem, or applause; we sought them not in the inward bent of our thoughts, or the studies of our mind, not in outward course of our ministry and conversation, to form them so as to gain glory from men. Though honour and esteem was their due from men, yet they did not seek it. Honour is to follow men, men not to follow it.” Paul and his group of fellow servants were there to lead and serve the people as they shared the Gospel. They had no ulterior or selfish motives. And they wanted no special treatment from those they were there to serve.

Paul cared about the people in Thessalonica, and describes his love for them this way. “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.” He was only attempting to give to the Christ Followers there. Some among the Thessalonians had accused Paul of ministering out of self interest, but Paul simply asks the Christians in Thessalonica to remember the gentle character of his ministry among them. Paul goes on to remind them that they had supported themselves and worked hard amongst the people there to serve them with the truth of the Gospel.

He explains the way the had served: “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” Paul had a special place in his heart for this group of believers. He gave both his care and his knowledge of the Gospel freely to them. But he also reminded them that he didn’t take anything from them to support his work. He started work early and did what was necessary to take care of himself and his team without being a burden. “For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” Paul had a reason for not asking for support like he did with many churches, but we don’t know the exact reason.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Paul sets out to prove he is sincere and defends his ministry and character to the Thessalonians. Paul is not insecure in what he’s been called to do, but rather has a lot of enemies that wanted his ministry to fail, and discredited him because he was not there in person and had left last time in a hurry because of the threat to his life. “For you yourselves know, brothers,” that our coming to you was not in vain.” Hiebert explains “This self-revelation is not being made because the Thessalonian believers themselves were suspicious or doubtful about the missionaries. Paul is answering the insidious attacks being made by scandalmongers outside the church because of their hatred for him.”

Barclay lists the following false charges against Paul, evident from the way Paul explained himself in this chapter:

  • “Paul has a police record and is therefore untrustworthy” (1 Thessalonians 2:2, suffered before referring to his imprisonment in Thessalonica).
  • “Paul is delusional” (1 Thessalonians 2:3, error).
  • “Paul’s ministry is based on impure motives” (1 Thessalonians 2:3, uncleanness).
  • “Paul deliberately deceives others” (1 Thessalonians 2:3, in deceit).
  • “Paul preaches to please others, not God” (1 Thessalonians 2:4, not as pleasing men).
  • “Paul is in the ministry as a mercenary, to get what he can out of it materially” (1 Thessalonians 2:5, 2:9, nor a cloak for covetousness).
  • “Paul only wants personal glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:6, nor did we seek glory from men).
  • “Paul is something of a dictator” (1 Thessalonians 2:7 we were gentle among you).

Guzik explained “The word vain here can refer either to the result of the ministry, or the character of the ministry. Because it was evident to everyone that Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica was a success, it is better to see it as a reference to the character of Paul’s ministry. His coming was not empty or hollow, as if he were a mere salesman or marketer.” Paul wants to be very clear that he and his team were ministering on purpose for a purpose and the efforts were intentional and focused on helping the Christians live as true Christ Followers to become disciples that were growing in their faith and becoming more like Jesus.

Paul reminds the Thessalonians of his sufferings in the ministry. Through this, he made the point that he would not carry on in the face of beatings and conflict if he were in it only for himself. “But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” Paul didn’t just speak the gospel when it was easy or convenient. He was bold and shared even in the middle of conflict and resistance or even attack and persecution. Paul preached Christ crucified no matter what was against him.

1 Thessalonians 1:1

In 1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul begins his letter to the church at Thessalonica. G. Campbell Morgan explains “This letter is full of interest because it is certainly among the first of those which have been preserved for us from the pen of Paul. It was the first he wrote to European Christians, and in it the fundamental things of the Christian life are very clearly set forth.” One thing we know about Paul is that he usually did not do ministry alone, but worked with a team. That is the case as he begins his letter. “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.”

Guzik gives us their pedigrees this way: “Silvanus (also known as Silas) was a long and experienced companion of Paul. He traveled with Paul on his second missionary journey and was imprisoned and set free with Paul in the Philippian jail. When Paul first came to Thessalonica, Silas came with him. Timothy was a resident of Lystra, a city in the province of Galatia. He was the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. From his youth learned the Scriptures from his mother and grandmother. Timothy was a trusted companion and associate of Paul, and he accompanied Paul on many of his missionary journeys. Paul sent Timothy to the Thessalonians on a previous occasion.” There were trusted and close ministry partners to Paul.

Remember that Paul himself founded the church in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-9). Thessalonica was the prosperous capital of the province of Macedonia (northern Greece), located on the famous Egnatian Way. Paul was only in the city a short time (actually three successful weekend of ministry) because he was forced out by enemies of the Gospel or basically a Thessalonican mob. Yet the church of the Thessalonians continued to be alive and active. Though Paul had to suddenly leave this young church, his deep concern for them prompted this letter.

Guzik further explains “While in Corinth, it is likely that Paul was greatly concerned about the churches he had just founded, and he wondered about their state. While at Corinth, Silas and Timothy came to him from Thessalonica with great news: the church there was strong. Paul became so excited that he dashed off this letter to the Thessalonians, probably his first letter to any church. He wrote it just a few months after he had first established the church in Thessalonica. Paul thought it important, (even essential) to organize these young converts in the Thessalonian church into a community of mutual interest, care, and fellowship.”  That is the purpose of the Body of Christ. When a church does that, it can survive and thrive!

Colossians 4:7-18

In Colossians 4:7-18 Paul introduces the Colossian church to Tychicus who they apparently didn’t know, but would be the one who brought Paul’s letter to them. “Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.” Tychicus was one of the men who came with Paul from the Roman province of Asia to Jerusalem, to carry the offering of those believers to the needy Christians of Jerusalem and Judea. Bruce reminds us “The reference to Tychicus is almost word for word identical with Ephesians 6:21-22. He was evidently the bearer of the letter to the Ephesians as well as this one.” So he was a trusted co-minister with Paul.

Paul sends Tychicus for one reason – to encourage them in their walk with Jesus. He also sent Onesimus who was a slave owned by a believer in Colosse, but had ran away and came into contact with Paul in Rome. There, Onesimus became a Christian and a dedicated helper to Paul. His story is continued in Paul’s letter to Philemon. “I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.” The mission was to update and encourage the church while reporting on Paul’s status.

Paul also lets them know there are others in prison with him for the sake of the gospel. “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions— if he comes to you, welcome him),and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.” They had accompanied Paul on various trips and ministry efforts and were also in chains along with him. Epaphras was a fellow minister filled with prayer for the Colossian church. “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” We need to pray like that for our churches!

Paul shares many more greetings from other co-ministers of the gospel. “For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.” And he wants the Colossians to share the words he has written with other believers in the area. “Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.”

Paul charges the church to press Archippus to minister strongly and to encourage and strengthen him. “And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.” Dyke explains It was more fitting for the Colossians (or Laodiceans) to say this to Archippus than for Paul himself to say it to him. He needed to hear this from the people around him: “Fulfill your ministry.” When the Colossians spoke up, then Archippus knew his ministry was wanted. “Many an Archippus is sluggish, because the Colossians are silent.” We need to encourage our ministers to do the work of the gospel and support them in that effort. Paul wraps his letter this way: “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”

Colossians 1:9-12

In Colossians 1:9-12 Paul tells the church how he has been praying for them. What a powerful prayer. He asks that they may be:

  • Filled with knowledge of His will
  • Full of wisdom and understanding
  • Walk with the Lord in way worthy and pleasing
  • Bear fruit
  • Increase in their knowledge of God
  • Strenthened with all power
  • Have endurance
  • Express patience with joy
  • Thankful
  • Share in the inheritance they have as saints

Paul doesn’t just share these things he is praying for. He tells them that he never ceases to pray. “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

Let’s look at these things Paul is praying for. He begins with asking that they would have a knowledge of His will, informed by a true spiritual understanding. To know God and what He requires of us is our first responsibility. Spurgeon explains “If you read this epistle through, you will observe that Paul frequently alludes to knowledge and wisdom. To the point in which be judged the church to be deficient he turned his prayerful attention. He would not have them ignorant. He knew that spiritual ignorance is the constant source of error, instability, and sorrow; and therefore he desired that they might be soundly taught in the things of God.”

Next, Paul prayed that they would live according to the same knowledge they received, living out a walk worthy of the Lord. Our walk is based on our knowledge of God and our understanding of His will. When we walk with the Lord we will bear fruit and show that we are His disciple. Spurgeon shares ” ‘Fruitful in every good work.’ Here is room and range enough – in ‘every good work.’ Have you the ability to preach the gospel? Preach it! Does a little child need comforting? Comfort it! Can you stand up and vindicate a glorious truth before thousands? Do it! Does a poor saint need a bit of dinner from your table? Send it to her. Let works of obedience, testimony, zeal, charity, piety, and philanthropy all be found in your life. Do not select big things as your special he, but glorify the Lord also in the littles – ‘ fruitful in every good work.’ ”

Then Paul talks about being strengthened by all might. Scripture tells us not to live by our might, but by God’s unlimited might. “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” He must be our source of power. As we walk worthy of the Lord, His strength is there to help us meet all of life’s challenges, and to endure and overcome problems with circumstances and people patiently and with joy. That is definitely not something we will do on our own. It’s only through God’s might and power we can endure and give thanks!

Philippians 2:17-22

In Philippians 2:17-22 Paul uses himself as an example of how to live in obedience. “Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” Paul seems to indicate that his execution might be coming soon. He’s in jail and expecting death, but even in his martyrdom, he wanted to rejoice with the Philippians. Paul wasn’t being morbid here, asking the Philippians to take joy in something as depressing as his death. Yet he did ask the Philippians to see his death as something that would bring glory to God. His life was going to be a sacrifice for Jesus, dead or alive, and he wanted it to be celebrated with joy.

He asks the Philippians to join in that joy. “Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.” Again, we come to the consistent theme of Philippians: joy. But this is joy based not on circumstances (quite the opposite, really), but based in the fact of a life totally committed to Jesus Christ. “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.” This showed Paul’s true reliance upon the Lord. He wanted to see Timothy among the Philippians, but recognized that it would happen God’s way and in God’s timing. He was not interested in forcing something that was not God’s plan.

Paul didn’t expect problems from the Philippians, as if they were one of his problem churches. Instead, he expected that he would be encouraged by what Timothy would learn. This was a very different message from that he gave to the Corinthian church which was consumed by problems. Paul also knew that Timothy, who was his best partner in ministry, would show his pastor’s heart of caring and care for the people there. Paul was sending the best to minister to the church, and he assures them Timothy’s actions will be sincere and genuine. “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.”

Paul contrasts Timothy with other pastors he knows and even serves with – and none compare to Timothy. Everyone else has an agenda and it resolves around their own motivations and desires. That was not true of Timothy. He was focused on the interest of those he ministered to. “For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Paul is recognizing just how rare this kind of servant of the Lord truly is. All of us, even ministers of the gospel, struggle with sin and putting self on the throne of life and as the driver of ministry. Timothy was a unique minister who cared for people the way Jesus did. “But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.”

Philippians 2:14-16

In Philippians 2:14-16 Paul gives us some practical ways to obey his exhortation. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation….”.  Paul specifically used terms that were used to describe Israel’s complaining towards God during the Exodus, it is probably best to see the complaining and disputing as including their attitude towards God. Spurgeon gives three examples of things we must not murmur against:

  • The Providence of God
  • One another
  • The ungodly world

Note that Paul uses a very broad coverage here when he says “all things”, not some or even most, but rather all. That’s important to understand as it leaves no room for interpretation – we are to do everything without grumbling or dispute. Period. Why does it matter? Because through the display of a non-complaining, non grumbling, non disputing spirit, we show that we are true Christ Followers. We are walking in obedience to God’s commands. And it shows us then as blameless and innocent. When we live a life without grumbling and disputing, we are living in a way that stands out from the world around us.

We live in the midst of a world filled with crookedness that twists the truth in every direction. So we have a mission for living – to be a light in the midst of the darkness that is all around us. Paul was warning us not to be like the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, complaining and grumbling against God at every turn. He tells us to shine brightly as lights. “….among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” This is not an encouragement to do something; it is a simple statement of fact. Christians are lights in the world; the only question is, “How brightly do they shine?”

We are to fulfill our place as lights in the world:

  • Lights are used to make things evident.
  • Lights are used to guide.
  • Lights are used as a warning.
  • Lights are used to bring cheer.
  • Lights are used to make things safe.

Paul tells us how to get the power to shine as a light surrounded by darkness – to hold fast to the word of life. We need to hold onto God’s Word and stand strong to allow it to shine in us and through us. It’s a light that will never go out, and should be our focus as long as we have life!

Ephesians 6:5-9

In Ephesians 6:5-9 Paul shifts gears to focus on ‘bondservants’ which was definitely relevant when he wrote this letter to the Ephesians. “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ….” Moule explains “The Gospel found slavery in the world; and in many regions, particularly the Roman and the Greek, it was a very bad form of slavery. The Gospel began at once to undermine it, with its mighty principles of the equality of all souls in the mystery and dignity of manhood, and of the equal work of redeeming love wrought for all souls by the supreme Master. But its plan was – not to batter, but to undermine… So while the Gospel in one respect left slavery alone, it doomed it in another.”

Today the principles here apply to us as workers and leaders/managers. The words “as you would Christ” should change our entire perspective as workers. It reminds us that our work can and should be done as if we were working for Jesus – because we are! We are not to work with eyeservice (working only when the boss is looking) or as people-pleasers (those who only care about pleasing man), but with good will (a good attitude, not complaining) doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. “….not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man….” 

We need to live and work to please an audience of ONE, God Himself, and not only for man. Spurgeon wrote “Grace makes us the servants of God while still we are the servants of men: it enables us to do the business of heaven while we are attending to the business of earth: it sanctifies the common duties of life by showing us how to perform them in the light of heaven.” Our work needs to be done for the Lord, not just for man. And there is a reward. “….knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.” Paul relates a final reason for working hard for the Lord. God will return to us in the measure that we have worked hard for others; He will not allow our hard work to go without reward.

Paul then gives a word to the masters (or bosses in todays terminology). Employees are to work hard and honestly for their bosses, but bosses are to do the same on behalf of those who work for them. “Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” Moule explains “So the Gospel leaves its message of absolutely equal obligation, in Jesus Christ, upon the slave and upon the slave owner. The principle will do its work. There is no word of Revolution.” Employers are to give up threatening and other forms of harsh treatment knowing that they are employees of their Master in heaven.

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