I’ve been looking at Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church. As one of the first New Testament Scriptures written, it has a lot of foundational principles for us. One of these has to do with church leadership.
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
The word translated respect in this verse means to know by seeing, watching and observing. We are to focus upon those who we know are our leaders in the Lord. In this way, we can observe the direction we’re to be heading.
This verse is important for us to hear. It tells us some of the jobs that God expects His leaders to perform.
The verse tells us that our leaders are to admonish us. That literally means that they’re to put things into our minds. By observing them, we learn what we’re to be accomplishing for Christ. We also learn what to be careful for.
Too often we don’t want to be led. We want to make our own choices without anybody else’s input. Then we get in trouble because we miss out on the insight that only comes through experience.
But how exactly do we focus on each other so that we all keep in step with what God’s doing? We see a great example of this in Scripture, when Paul was first saved and he met with the Apostles in Jerusalem.
James, Peter, and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
This is an interesting verse. When they met together, the Apostles understood how the Lord works. They didn’t expect Paul to operate exactly the way they did.
It says that they recognized the grace that Paul had been given. This is a spiritual perception that comes from time with the Holy Spirit.
Too often we take a “cookie-cutter” approach to ministry. We find what God is calling us to do and we run with it. But, because it works well for us, we make the assumption that everybody should be ministering the same way that we do.
That’s foolish. We’re all different. Not only that, but we’re all called to reach different people. What you do in your ministry will never work to reach those I’m called to deal with.
It’s the Holy Spirit who organizes what we do. That’s why it’s so important to let Him take the lead in showing us how to minister.
I must be able to watch what you’re doing for Christ and recognize the grace that’s operating through you. Then, even seeing the differences, we can still march together in unity.
Unity and fellowship are all about knowing our place in the body of Christ. It not only means that I recognize those marching next to me. I need to see those who are marching in front of me, leading me. I also need to recognize the ones behind me, who are following my example.
Only then can we accomplish all that the Lord has for us to do.
Questions: Who are the leaders you are following? Who are those that are following you?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017