I’m posting about First Thessalonians, one of the foundational writings of the New Testament. At the end of the letter, Paul is giving some final principles that will help their growth.
And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:14
It’s obvious that Paul is talking to the church leadership in this section. The word, warn, in this verse is the same word admonish, that was used in the previous verse. (I talked about it in my last post.)
These are things that true leaders should be watchful over. The problem is that in our generation, so many people don’t want their leaders to be looking out for them. We want to live however we choose with no accountability for our choices.
Then, if a leader truly cares about us, and warns us of the dangers of our lifestyle, we get upset and leave the church. If God’s people are going to become a great spiritual force, then we need to listen to the exhortation of our leaders.
The first thing Paul says that a leader must do is to warn the idle. This literally means to warn those who are out of order or unruly.
We know that the Lord we serve is a God of order. The church, as well as our private lives, needs to be arranged according to His plan. When we start deviating from His order, then we need to be warned of the trouble we’re getting ourselves into.
The next thing Paul tells us is to encourage the timid. This is actually a very important part of being a leader. The phrase literally means to relate near to the weak-souled. The Greek word for relating near to someone implies telling your story to them.
A lot of times those who are weak in the faith think that those in leadership were born into it. They don’t know the struggles, challenges, failures, or insecurities of those who lead. When we share our stories with them, they begin to see what God can do through anyone who’s willing to follow the leading of the Spirit.
Another part of leadership is to help the weak. This means to stand next to, and hold up the unestablished. There are those in the body of Christ who haven’t put their roots down deep yet. We need to be there to help those people to stand strong.
In a garden, there are times when you have to tie a young plant to a pole, to keep it stable, until its roots are deep enough to sustain it. It’s the same with God’s people. Many need the support and encouragement of a stable believer until they can stand firm on their own. Too often we’re guilty of letting young believers fall away because we assume they know how to live for Christ right from the start.
The final part of leadership is to be patient with everyone. Now that’s the tough one. I’ve heard people say that they’re praying for patience. That’s actually not the best way to become patient.
The reason for this is because patience is not a commodity you can receive; it’s a choice you have to make. Patience is a choice to be willing to wait for God’s perfect timing in a matter. It involves seeing things from God’s perspective and knowing that the final chapter of someone’s life hasn’t been written yet.
These are all important goals in the ministry of church leadership. We, as leaders in the body of Christ, need to realize the truth that the Lord is looking for these qualities in us. We aren’t judged on their response, only on our willingness to care for and encourage those under us.
Question: What growth have you seen in the lives of people who you’ve encouraged?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017