Just a short background on 1 Thessalonians before I share a few of my thoughts from today’s reading:
It is thought by many scholars that this is the oldest of Paul’s letters (or epistles) to the churches.
Thessalonica was the major city in Macedonia when Paul wrote to the church there. The church had as its members both Jews who had come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, and Gentiles who had been idol worshippers. Paul planted the church during his first visit there, but was forced to leave for his own safety.
From today’s reading I want to focus on two passages.
1 thessalonians 2:19 and 20 says, “19After all, it is you—you, no less than others!—who are our hope, our joy, and our reason for boasting of our victory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes. 20Indeed, you are our pride and our joy!”
and 1 thessalonians 3:6-8 says, “6 Now Timothy has come back, and he has brought us the welcome news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always think well of us and that you want to see us just as much as we want to see you. 7So, in all our trouble and suffering we have been encouraged about you, friends. It was your faith that encouraged us, 8because now we really live if you stand firm in your life in union with the Lord.”
Paul had the heart of a pastor. As we’ve been reading through his letters, it’s clear that he dearly loves the people who are part of the church. He prays for them, he worries about them, he looks for ways that he can be a blessing to them, and he admonishes them to live lives that will be pleasing to the Lord. I hope that sounds familiar to you. I hope I could be talking about your pastor. I know my pastor is like this.
I’ve been blessed to have had some great pastors in my life. While each one has been very different in their personalities, each one loved God and the people who God put in their care. And since I have usually been very involved in every church I have attended, and most of them have been on the small side, I’ve had the privilege to get to know most of my pastors on a personal basis. Most of my pastors have been my friend as well as my pastor. And my current pastor happens to be my brother-in-law, too. We are very close.
The reason I tell you all this about my relationships with my pastors is this: Your pastor’s job is often lonely and difficult and thankless. Most pastors don’t have someone they can go to to unload his heart. They seldom have a peer to share their difficulties with. Your pastor prays for you and seeks God’s will for you. Verse 10 of chapter 3 could probably have been written by your pastor: “Day and night we ask him with all our heart to let us see you personally and supply what is needed in your faith.”
Today, I’d like you to encourage your pastor. Let him know that you pray for him (You DO pray for your pastor, don’t you?). Let him know how you have been changed by a recent sermon. Be specific. Don’t just say, “Good sermon” as you leave on Sunday. Let him know which specific words really spoke to you, and what you are going to do to put them into practice. And don’t just tell him in passing on Sunday morning. Write him a note. On paper. With your own hand. And drop it in the mail. Remember snail mail? Use it to deliver your note. And in the note, think about including a gift card to a really nice local restaurant. Most pastors can’t afford to go to really nice restaurants. Or maybe buy him tickets to a local sporting event if he likes that kind of thing.
Let your pastor know that the love he puts into your life means something. Let him see the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.
Do something so that your pastor can say to God, “Now we can give thanks to our God for you.”