This week, I was meditating on 1 Thessalonians 5:14-23 during my devotional time, and it struck me that there probably is not a better job description for pastoral ministry–or really any kind of church leadership, than what you see in this text.
Here’s what Paul had to say to the church in Thessaloniki (ESV):
14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,<sup class="footnote" style="box-sizing: border-box; font-size: .625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0" data-fn="#fen-ESV-29619a" data-link="[a]”>[a] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
From this passage, consider these twelve points for a job description for pastors:
- ADMONISH the idle and disruptive (v. 14): I need to speak warning to those who lack initiative.
- ENCOURAGE the fainthearted (v. 14): I need to speak courage to those who lack courage.
- HELP the weak (v. 14): I need to not just speak, but providerelief to those who lack strength.
- BE PATIENT with all (v. 14): I need to not get irritated or exasperated with those who lack maturity.
- REFEREE the arguments (v. 15): Verse 15 says, “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” I need to speak peace to those who lack perspective.
- REJOICE always (v. 16): I need to speak joy to those who lack vision.
- PRAY without ceasing (v. 17): I need to speak to God in those times I lack faith.
- GIVE THANKS in all circumstances (v. 18): I need to speak thankfulness to those who lack gratitude.
- RELEASE the Spirit (v. 19): Verse 19 says “Do not quench the Spirit.” I need to be sensitive to the Spirit’s work and movement in those times I lack flexibility.
- DISCERN the Word (v. 20-21): Verse 20 says “Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test them all, hold to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” I need to speak truth to those who lack wisdom.
- REJECT evil (v. 22): I need to speak against anything that lacks goodness.
- YIELD to the Lord (v. 23): Verse 23 promises that “the God of peace himself [will] sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I need to be surrendered in those areas I lack holiness.
And the amazing promise from God’s Word for everyone in Christian service?
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)