1 Thessalonians 3:1–5 (NKJV)
1 Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. 4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. 5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.I Thessalonians 3:1-5
Paul, longing to see the Thessalonians but unable to make the trip, stayed in Athens and sent Timothy to visit the young church and bring back a report of their condition. He also sent Silvanus to another church for support in Macedonia. While they were gone, Paul debated with the philosophers at the Areopagus in Athens, teaching them about the identity of the “Unknown God.” After this, they both joined him again in Corinth with their reports. Timothy was to solidify the church in their faith and encourage them concerning the afflictions measured upon them by their persecutors. Paul reminds them in this passage that they were appointed for this adventure in the faith, including the suffering. Therefore, it should not be a surprise when it comes. Paul’s ultimate purpose for sending Timothy was to know their condition, and that they were not overwhelmed by the persecution to the point of failure.
Pastoral care is one of the important roles of a leader. It is good to attend to a family in crisis. It is fitting for a pastor to offer discipleship to new converts, and deeper understandings of the Scripture to those who are mature. It is absolutely Biblical to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. For some it is a duty, part of why they “get paid.” However, the true pastor, the true shepherd, should simply care about their sheep. A good shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep, and Paul was just such a good shepherd. Pastors should observe this example and live it. Lead pastors should care about everyone in their flock, especially their leadership team (undershepherds). Undershepherds (children’s pastors, youth pastors, senior adult ministers, Sunday school teachers, elders, etc.) should care about their sheep. Parents care about their children if they are Godly parents. Families care about one another. The body of Christ is a family as well. Care about one another. Love one another. Live with the goal of selfless care for one another. Be a Paul. Even better, be like Jesus. This will pull the church together and make it strong.
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