Marks of a Faithful Pastor, Part 3: I Thess. 2:9-12
In our current series we’ve seen four marks of a faithful pastor thus far. He shows up armed with God’s good news, not empty handed (2:1-2). He’s God-tested and approved (vv.3-4a). He seeks to please God, not man (v.4b). He’s all about giving, not getting (vv.5-8). Now, if he does these well enough long enough, he will achieve the final mark of a lasting legacy (vv.9-12).
What goes into a pastor’s lasting legacy? First, he must be a hard worker (v.9). Paul was a leatherworker or tent maker and so as he travelled into Thessalonica he set up shop and worked night and day. He experienced fatigue from exertion and hard physical labor, not to mention the fatigue of simultaneous evangelism and missions work.
These men did not swoosh into town demanding celebrity treatment. They were not gospel divas or pastoral prima donnas. As Jewish young men they were taught a trade. Paul’s trade was working with animal skins to produce tent making materials or he actually assembled the tents. So here is the learned, scholarly Paul “stepping down the social ladder for sake of Christ” as one commentary put it.
The point of v.9 is they would not be a financial burden on these new converts but rather wanted to show people in a lazy culture how to work.
The second pillar is integrity (v.10). Paul reminds them of how “devoutly” he lived. He had holy affections for God and hatred of sin, the heart of all true religion. Because of this, he kept God’s moral law. He lived “uprightly.” Devoutly + uprightly = blamelessly. Not sinless perfection but above reproach. No one could lay a charge of egregious sin to their account. Paul’s practice then lined up with his profession. That makes for serious integrity and integrity over the long haul equals legacy.
Finally legacy requires an intense focus on the prize (vv.11-12). Paul was “exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
A faithful pastor teaches and preaches like a focused father, pushing, pulling and prodding his kids toward a worthy goal. Certainly this is both from the pulpit but also one-on-one, with deeply invested time with the saints, reminding them of where they are going.
It involves exhorting toward the goal, consoling where there have been set backs and authoritative imploring when needed. All with the prize of “His own kingdom and glory” in mind.
So the faithful, fatherly pastor exhorts his people to live in light of their future inheritance. He then comforts people who have fallen down on the journey. And he implores, “get up, get after it, walk on! Paradise is around the corner. Quitting is not an option! Keep your eye on the prize. We are almost there!” Saints need all three: exhorting, encouraging and imploring.
What awaits us? An unhindered manifestation of God’s glory thru the long reign of His Son! What awaits us is the Messianic kingdom of God and Christ on planet earth, then new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells!
O believer in the risen Christ, you are a child of the King. You will one day live in sinless perfection in His glorious kingdom come. Before you know it, you will be immortal, invincible and perfect, inside and out! May this motivate us today to walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls.
“Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people: a place which we shall find Christ Himself has made ready for true Christians. He has prepared it by carrying our names with Him as our High Priest into the holy of holies, and making angels ready to receive us. They that enter heaven will find they are neither unknown nor unexpected.” Bishop JC Ryle
Every faithful pastor leaves a lasting legacy as a hard working gospel preacher backed by a life of integrity and possessed with a fatherly focus on what truly matters.
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight