Gleanings – Encourage and Build Up or Move On!

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Paul is assuring the Thessalonian believers they need not fear the end times that will come like a thief in the night. They are sons of the light, indeed sons of the day as opposed to sons of the night. Not wrath but salvation determines their destiny.

The Apostle is actually doing for the Thessalonians what he is commending to the Thessalonians. He is encouraging them. He is building them up. Waking or sleeping the Thessalonians live with Christ Jesus, their future secure.

As are many pastors, I am looking for apostles like Paul. We would love to receive what it is we are meant to give away.

The layman immediately wonders why such encouragement would be in short supply. The reasons are many and varied but here are some contributing factors.

Too often church leaders are driven by the success of the thing (church) more so than the souls of the people (read pastors or sheep for that matter). What wasn’t driven by a desire for success in the late 20th century? Remember “In Search of Excellence” and “Dress for Success” and “Alex Keaton?” However, whenever the “end” justifies the “means” people are reduced to pawns in a bigger scheme. I wish I could say I never fell personally into this trap so ever present on the American church scene. The pressure is enormous. One has to make a conscious decision to buck the success model (or career path) in order to care for souls. For in matters of following Jesus, souls are always the end. What does it mean to gain the world and forfeit your soul? People, beating hearts are what matter to God, not bricks and mortar or even butts in the pew (industry jargon ;-)). It was said of one of my past senior pastors, that he counted legs and doubled that number when he logged the attendance for any given Sunday. Obviously priorities were amiss.

But therein is the next contributing factor, insecurity. Too often church leaders are consumed with justifying their leadership even their job. They bristle at the best and brightest beneath for fear their fortunes might be reversed. Consequently, they don’t encourage or build up. They rein in the competent and transfer their insecurities.

There is a word here for laymen. Refuse to participate in a search for a CEO to lead your church. Demand a pastor, one who has no designs on the future other than the care of souls entrusted to his care. Insure he knows what the “end” is. There is a word here for church leaders as well. If you don’t have the confidence and security to build up others even to the point of preparing them to take your job, find it. Otherwise, consider early retirement.



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