What kind of ministry do you have? Are you a loving giver or a glory seeker?
Paul addresses his own motivations in 1Thessalonians 2 – a passage every preacher should meditate on periodically.
Don’t Minister as a Glory Seeker (2:1-6)
What did Paul do? He ministered boldly despite the suffering and conflict he faced. He was not after glory from man, but accepted shameful treatment. Why did he do this? His goal was to please God and not man. He knew God tests the hearts of those who serve Him, so Paul didn’t flatter, or greedily pursue gain. He was not after glory from people.
How are we doing? Chances are, if we are serving in a local church setting in the world today, that many of us are facing some level of discomfort and conflict in our ministry. Shameful treatment may be a bit of an overstatement for many, but it often isn’t completely off target either. Let’s not pursue glory from people, but serve with hearts pointed in the right direction – to please God.
Minister as a Loving Mother (2:7-8)
What did Paul do? He cared gently and tenderly like a good mother. Why did he do this? He loved them.
And us? When we minister to others we give of ourselves. When we preach the Word, we often feel spent. When serving a church, we will regularly find ourselves caring for broken and hurting individuals. They don’t tend to put it on the advertising, but it is often true, “Come as our minister and be a Mum to us!”
Minister as a Loving Father (2:9-12)
What did Paul do? He worked hard in their midst, setting a strong example, like a good father. Why did he do this? He was moved to motivate them for the end result that their lives would bring glory to God.
And us? Ministering in a church, whether full-time, part-time or whatever time, is hard work. Yet some do struggle with laziness. I read the other day a comment from Bill Hybels – if you want to improve your preaching, find a way to give an extra hour to the preparation. What level is your perspiration indicator showing as you labour in your ministry?
In the subsequent verses we see that Paul did have both glory and joy, but it was the Thessalonians in their response to the ministry. He didn’t pursue his own glory, but lovingly gave himself for their sakes through his ministry.