Respect for Caring Leaders

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Seymour, a lifetime, pioneer missionary to Mindanao, a troubled area of the Philippines, is at the point in his journey where the tank barely keeps his oxygen levels right and fluid is beginning to build up in his body. He’s a precious friend, and he loves to sing hymns. So, on Saturday, Mary and I dropped by to check on him and his wife, Lois. Near the end of the visit we passed out the hymnbooks, Mary sat down at the old piano, and we sang hymns like “Fairest Lord Jesus” and “Since Jesus Came into My Heart.” When it was time to leave, Seymour was still strong enough to pray.  But what encouraged me the most was that two of the elders from church had already been there earlier in the week to check on him.

If the model of a church leader is a corporate boss, then home visits to aging patriarchs are not exactly on the schedule. But the Apostle Paul presents a different model to the Thessalonians. He reminds them that he was like a nursing mother and a caring father when he lived with them bringing them the Gospel for the first time. Now, near the end of his first letter, he tells them that their leaders need to be caring servants, like he was, and to drive home his point, his term for leaders in the church means those who “show concern for, care, and give aid.” These are the kind of leaders we need to respect and obey in our churches today.

“Now we asked you brothers and sisters to recognize those who labor among you, those who exercise a caring leadership in the Lord and who instruct and warn you. Respect these leaders and overflow in love for them because of their hard work. Be at peace with one another.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Disrespect for caring leaders and believers at odds with one another—these are two realities in the church that drain the life out of qualified leaders.

LORD, use Paul’s reminder of the need for us to respect caring church leaders who still make house calls to generate a powerful movement of these kinds of leaders during this crisis time in the American Church when so many “one man, power leaders” have fallen.

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