Hallmarks Of Christian Ministry | 1 Thessalonians 2:1-14

Hallmarks Of Christian Ministry | 1 Thessalonians 2:1-14

God calls people from different ethnic groups, from various professions, and from all age group to be his children. It is the will of God for everyone to be saved. Once we are saved, God also calls us to be ministers according to our calling in fulfilling the Great Commission. In simple terms, God has called every one of us for Christian leadership.

So what is Christian leadership?

How does one go about with Christian leadership and ministry?

Hallmarks of Christian Ministry

For those of you listening to me who are yet to make a decision regarding following Christ, let me say this: The son of God, Jesus Christ came into this world in body by a virgin birth. He lived and ministered for about 3 years and was sentenced to crucifixions for no fault of this. Jesus rose again on the third day and after about 40 days after his resurrection, he ascended to God the Father giving us a promise that he will return again and establish his literal kingdom. So one when believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and trusts him as savior and Lord, one becomes a child of God. All those who are God’s children are called for good works and Christian leadership according to your call and purpose by God.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-5

1You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness.

1 Thessalonians 2:6-9

6We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7Instead, we were like young childrenamong you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

1 Thessalonians 2:10-14

10You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. 13And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus:

Now, Paul was under attack at this time. Some people have told the believers in this church that the apostles are cheats. People were attacking Paul’s integrity. Some accused Paul of being just another religious fraud. They say he was motivated like everybody else that he preached for greed, power, prestige, popularity, and sexual favors, because that’s what false teachers always did and even do today.

So, How does Paul defend himself?

In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul writes his defense. As he writes this defense I want you to notice he says again and again: “As you know.”

1 Thessalonians 2:2

We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.

This phrase is repeated throughout this epistle:

1 Thessalonians 2:1
You know
1 Thessalonians 2:11
For you know
1 Thessalonians 2:2
As you know
1 Thessalonians 3:3
You know quite well
1 Thessalonians 2:5
You know
1 Thessalonians 3:4
We were with you
1 Thessalonians 2:9
You became dear to us
1 Thessalonians 4:2
For you know
1 Thessalonians 2:10
You are witnesses
1 Thessalonians 5:2
For you know

They don’t need any second-hand testimony as to the integrity of his ministry. Paul’s credibility is known to them first hand. They are living witnesses of his credibility. Well, he calls on the Thessalonians to be his defense.

Listen, every pastor and minster should be able to say, “If you question my ministry and my commitment, ask the people I ministered to.” Paul is not a flat-screen pastor; that’s a pastor who understands good relationships with his people.

Spiritual leadership is a very, very challenging responsibility.

Requirements of a Christian Minister in ministry

Preach the GospelAn immense responsibility to preach the gospel so that people repent.
WorshipBring them to church to worship God.
TeachTeach the word of God.
IntercedeTo pray for the congregation. To be people’s public and private intercessor.
Lead to CommitmentLead people to renew their commitment to God and confess their sins.
OverseeTo oversee the church which includes strengthening the weak and rebuke the disobedient.
TrainTrain and appoint teachers and workers for every believer so that they receive biblical counsel.
EncourageEncourage the believers and clear their doubts, help in weakness, trials, anxieties, and loss of their life.
Fulfill the MissionPartner with other churches and organizations for the furtherance of the gospel.
Accountable to GodFor all of that, the pastor one day will have to give an account to God for all his believers.

Hebrews 13:17

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.

A minister’s calling is for a lifetime, in all kinds of circumstances and with all kinds of people. A pastor has to overcome the weakness of his own flesh, then lead the people to God, and they will be scrutinized for this. In all of this a minister has to be joyful.

So how do you find a model to this kind of ministry?

Paul is the best one to turn to, because he is so transparent. How did Paul do his ministry?

1. Confidence In God

Christian ministry is done with one’s confidence in God. Paul had great confidence and courage.

1 Thessalonians 2:2-3

2We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.

Paul was confident. Ministry needs confidence.

Paul says, “we dared to tell you his gospel.”

They had been in Philippi before coming to Thessalonica. The experience in Philippi was very difficult.

1 Thessalonians 2:2

We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi.

In Philippi they were arrested. They were put in stocks, they were mistreated, they were sentenced without a trial. Although they had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, they had the courage in God to speak to you.

When the going got tough, they did not stop ministry. They did not alter their message. Also, they did not redesign the ministry approach. And, they continued to preach confidently and courageously.

In Acts 17 you see his arrival in Thessalonica:

Acts 17:5-10

5But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here,

7and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” 8When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. 10As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea.

Ministry is tough and difficult and may people quit because ministry is difficult.

Paul was unstoppable in ministry because he had courage in the Lord. The source of Paul’s confidence was in God.

2 Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Ephesians 3:12

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Paul’s ministry was effective because he was confident in God’s power, and that gave him the necessary boldness.

2. Committed To The Truth Of God

1 Thessalonians 2:3

For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.

We did not speak error, we had no impure motives nor were we trying to trick you.

There was a rumor that Paul was not preaching the truth. Paul always spoke the truth.

1 Timothy 2:7

And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

1 Timothy 6:3-5

3If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

1 Timothy 3:20-21

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

All through Paul’s ministry he was always holding up the truth.

See what Paul said to Timothy:

2 Timothy 4:2-5

2Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

False prophets, spiritual frauds, religious fakes were everywhere in the ancient world, and they’re everywhere today, everywhere. Paul says, “I speak the truth.”

Real preaching does not lead to popularity.

A preacher’s objective is to expose the symptoms and the causes and the residence of sin, to confront the fatal condition of the lost, and then offer a cure for their wretchedness and the divine sentence of God to eternal hell in Christ.

Paul had preached the full gospel. He spoke to them of the coming wrath of God. They turned from their idols, they received the message and they rang the message to the surrounding areas.

He confronted sin, he preached judgment, he called for repentance. In the midst of much opposition. 

There’s always pressure to compromise. to not offend, to soften the message, to make it popular, to sugarcoat what you say and make it acceptable to sinners.

Paul preached the truth. How would they know? Because it had done its work in their life.

1 Thessalonians 2:13

you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.

So, what marks faithful ministry?

Confidence in the Lord and commitment to the truth.

3. Purity

1 Thessalonians 2:3

For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.

Paul had purity of life and purity of doctrine. Paul is telling here, “My life is pure. I am not like any spiritual leaders of my time.” In Paul’s time, there were spiritual leaders in the pagan world who promoted sexual perversion. They tricked their devotes into intimate acts to have a touch of deity. Then there were spiritual leaders who used to distort the word of God and please people. Paul says, “May life is pure and my doctrine is pure.”

This is his integrity. He preaches the truth,  and his is pure. He models the truth he preaches.

4. Leadership Approved By God And Church

1 Thessalonians 2:4

On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.

Paul is saying, “I’ve been tested and I’ve been approved by God; I’ve been authorized.” What he’s saying is, “I’m not self-appointed. I am appointed and approved by God.”

That is a serious issue in the church today, self-appointed ministers who answer to no one.

Paul had been chosen by God and it was pretty clear. He was appointed by Jesus on the Damascus Road, Act 9. He was divinely commissioned.

Colossians 1:25

I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness.

Acts 16:10

After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Paul also was laid hands by the church at Antioch and sent for missionary work. He was accountable to godly authority as well as human authority.

Here was a man who had:

Confidence in God

Committed to the truth of God.

Pure doctrine and pure lifestyle.

Had leadership approved by God.

5. Paul Was Selfless

Paul Never Used Flattery

1 Thessalonians 2:5

You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness.

He never flattered for financial or political gains.

Flattery is a bad thing.

Proverbs 29:5

Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.

People love to hear good things about themselves. Flattery is ploy to gain their interest for your own promotion. One flatters to gain power over people. But that was not Paul.

Paul Was Not Greedy

Acts 20:33-35 33I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Paul was generous, not greedy.

Paul Never Looked For Praise From People

1 Thessalonians 2:6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.

Paul said, “We don’t seek praise. The only thing that we seek is God’s glory.”

1 Thessalonians 2:12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. He looked for God’s glory.

Paul Never Asserted His Authority Over People

1 Thessalonians 2:6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.

Paul Was Not Manipulative

1 Thessalonians 2:7a

Instead, we were like young children among you.

Children are portrayed in a positive way. Children are innocent. They are not manipulative.

Ministry is like a child, incapable of manipulation.

Here Paul is telling when it comes to evil or evil intentions, I am like a child. I am innocent like a children.

Dr Jacob Cherian, “We need to grow up and become children.”

Unfortunately we have grown up, we have become manipulative. But we need to grow up and become like innocent children when it comes to evil. This is a symbol of integrity, character, honesty. Grownups manipulate. Jesus also said, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

We human beings can put on a mask easily. See what Paul says.

1 Thessalonians 2:55

You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. What Paul is in the inside is what he is in the outside, no mask.

6. Paul Was A Parental Figure To The Churches He Established

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

7Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8so we cared for you.

1 Thessalonians 2:11

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,

Mother

Mother image is very important for Christian leader. Most mothers are very sacrificial. V8 says we cared for you, another translation says we shared our life to you. Mothers sacrifice their pleasures so that their children can have it. They will not spend their money lavishly, they will save it and the children will spend it up in the way they want.

Another mother image by Paul:

Galatians 4:19

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

So pastoral work is to struggle with your believers so that Christ is being formed in the believers.

My only aim is to have Christ formed in you as you listen to this word.

Many mothers really work very hard. I have seen mothers go to different houses and work as domestic helps. They work very, very hard. Then there are mothers who work as teachers or in some MNC and then come home and nurse and care for the family and children.

So Paul says we did that. Then he says we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone. We did not want to put our weight on you.

What kind of weight? Financial weight.

In the OT, God is also picturized as is the woman, who conceives and gives birth to Israel. Paul is telling, I have toiled in Christ to give birth to this church. I want to see this child grow. There are no awards for mothering.

Mother is maternal image. Paul also uses paternal imagery. Together we have a parental imagery in Paul’s pastoral care. This includes mother and father.

Father

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

11For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

1 Corinthians 4:15

Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.

Father’s job is encouraging, comforting, and urging. Urging is little spiritual push. Sometimes a little force or push is required, that is the job of a spiritual father.

He has the loving compassion of a mother, as well as the steel hardness of a warrior and a soldier. This is a simple testimony, but a profound model for all who serve the Lord to follow.

See how the parental image of Paul comes here:

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

17But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned (in English orphan is a child who lose parents. In Greek it also applies to parents who lose their children) by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

So here is a man, confident in God’s power; committed to God’s truth, to doing God’s will; accountable to God, authorized by God, devoted to a pure life with no interest in personal gain; seeking no glory from men, innocent as a child to his people, and loved and cared for the church like a father and mother.

What is the result of such a leadership?

1 Thessalonians 2:13-15

13And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out.

The Impact Of Paul’s Ministry On The Thessalonians
1 Thessalonians 2:13-15
They Received The Word Of God.
They Accepted The Word Of God.
The Word Of God was At Work In Them.
They Became Imitators Of Judean Churches.
They Endured Suffering Joyfully.

What an great example we have in apostle Paul’s leadership. God has called everyone of us to be his child and to take up leadership roles in the Kingdom of God. Don’t be hasty in taking up leadership but prepare yourself, one day God will give you the opportunity. You have a calling none can substitute, but let this be your desire, “God make me a biblical leader. Like apostle Paul, I want to have:

Confidence in God.

Committed to the truth of God.

Pure doctrine and pure lifestyle.

Have a leadership approved by God.

I want to be selfless.

And I want to play a parental role in my leadership call.

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