I probably shouldn’t ask. In fact, I am sure that I know the answer. Here it goes anyway: Have you ever wanted to put your preacher in his place? Have you ever disagreed with his message, his methods, or his manners and just wanted to tell him what you thought? It is likely that most of us who preach the Gospel needs a dose of kind correction now and then.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-3,Paul puts preachers in their place (actually the first 12 verses of this chapter deal with the characteristics of leadership, but we will limit our comments to verses 1-3). By using his own example, Paul lays out several principles for ministers. These principles should serve as guideposts or measuring rods for our attitudes and actions regarding preaching and preachers.
Preachers Have A Needed Place (2:1)
Paul did not want anyone to think that his work in Thessalonica was in vain (i.e., without result, empty, ineffective). Indeed, he did not get to stay for very long,and it took a while for him to receive word as to their faithfulness (3:1), but his work among them was definitely needed.
There is no quicker way to discourage a preacher than to suggest that his work is unnecessary. God chose preaching (1 Cor. 1:21), but some do not place the same value on it or on the one who is doing it. Most preachers do not need to hear an endless list of compliments, but they do need to know that they are effective and essential in the work of the local church.
Preachers Have A Difficult Place (2:2)
Paul uses three phrases to highlight the difficulties surrounding his Macedonian ministry. He “already suffered.”Even before arriving in Thessalonica, he suffered at Philippi which would have included being falsely accused, beaten, imprisoned, and run out of town (Acts 16:16-40). He was also “mistreated” or subject to offensively, disrespectful behavior. Finally, his time in Thessalonica was spent “amid much conflict”or with considerable opposition, and contention. This word issued in the New Testament to describe outward conflict (Phil. 1:30) and inward anxiety (Col. 2:1).
Difficulty will accompany anyone’s walk with Christ (2 Tim. 3:12),and preachers are no exception. Maybe the next time that you have that criticizing word on your tongue or you are eager to complain, you might want to remember that those in difficult places need encouragement –preachers included!
Preachers Have A Confident Place (2:2-3)
Despite the difficulty, Paul indicates that they spoke freely, fearlessly, honestly, and openly. All of these ideas are wrapped up in the phrase “we had boldness.”There were two reasons for their boldness –God and good character. Anyone who walks with God can live in confidence and assurance. Paul did just that. Furthermore, those who live and teach free from “error,”“impurity,”or “deceit”can have confidence in their own character to validate their work.
A preacher of the Gospel should never derive his confidence from the honors or acceptance of men, but it should be supplied through the understanding that his life is consistent with what God has called him to be.
Personally, I am thankful for preachers. I am thankful for those who support preaching. I am thankful for Paul’s message in this short passage that helps put preachers in their place.