I want to challenge you with a question you may have not asked: What should you expect from your pastor? Does the Bible provided any expectations or roles or responsibilities of pastors? For the Scriptural qualifications, one can examine 1 Timothy 3, Titus, and 1 Peter 5:1-4. We also see a model in the apostle Paul’s ministry as evidenced in 1 Thessalonians Chapter 2.
From this text, you should expect six characteristics or attributes from your pastor. First of all, we see Paul’s ministry MESSAGE (v. 2.) You should expect your pastor to be bold in preaching the gospel. The word Paul uses for boldness here means, “to have courage in the face of danger or opposition” or that supernatural ability to speak freely and unashamedly about the gospel-even when it’s unpopular or there is the threat of attack!
Our culture needs men who will stand up in pulpits across American and preach the truth no matter what the cost. They need to be like Paul who was unmoved from preaching the gospel. That’s why your church’s pulpit needs to have the solid, consistent preaching of the Word, and not just little stories about your pastor’s life, or happy tips to give you a better life. The only thing that will sustain you and grow you and enliven you and empower you and mature is the steady diet of the preached Word from a man of God who preaches with authority and boldness and trusts that what He is saying is actually from the Lord and is the absolute truth.
Second, we see Paul’s ministry MOTIVE (vv 3-6) and thus, you should expect your pastor to have pure motives as one approved by God. Paul defends his ministry motive here from critics and those who were attacking his leadership. There may have been opponents who thought he was a charlatan or a false teacher or only in it for the money, power and glory. A pastor must have pure motives and a heart tested and approved by God. Pastors above all else must be trustworthy not only with doctrine but with their motives and lifestyles.
Third, we see Paul’s ministry ATTITUDE (vv 7-8) and so you should expect your pastor to deeply love his flock with tenderness. This is a very interesting metaphor that Paul uses. He says that they were “gentle” which really means “toddler like”—they were baby like. A nursing mother feeds and takes care of her little baby and that’s what a pastor really ought to do for the church. He and the elders are responsible for nurturing and feeding and cherishing the church so that it grows and this often requires tenderness and understanding and listening.
Fourth, we see Paul’s ministry CONDUCT (vv 9-12.) You should expect your pastor’s life to back up his challenges for you to live a godly life. Paul is very clear here: He worked hard. He labored and toiled. He didn’t play golf every afternoon. He put in long hours loving and leading and teaching the people. Sometimes deep into the night.
A pastor’s job is 24/7.
1 Timothy 5:17 reads, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” A pastor must work to the point of exhaustion in preaching, teaching, leading, loving, and counseling the flock. And his lifestyle needs to back up what he’s calling the congregation to do. In verse 10 Paul says, that his conduct—or lifestyle—was holy and righteous and blameless. You should expect your pastor’s life to back up his challenges for you to live a godly life.
Fifth, we see Paul’s ministry MODEL (vv 2, 14-16.) You should expect your pastor to be on the front lines of suffering for the gospel. In verse 2 Paul recounts what happened in Acts 16 when he and Silas were imprisoned for their faith in Philippi. They had suffered, they were shamefully treated, they had come to Thessalonica right after being imprisoned in Philippi and then had to leave because of a mob riot. We are heading for a time of suffering in America as Christians. Persecution in some form is coming and as a pastor, I can’t be afraid of this. I can’t run from it. I have to be on the front lines ready for it and being a model worth imitating. And so should yours.
Sixth, we see Paul’s ministry DESIRE (vv 17-19.) You should expect your pastor to have your growth and maturity as one of his greatest concerns and joy. In verse 18, he said Satan had hindered them from coming. In the life of ministry pastors will experience intense spiritual warfare where the enemy will want to thwart or stop or confuse the work of God. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
But Paul’s ultimate desire is that this church is his pride and joy. We see this in verse 19. He wants to boast or brag on this church. This church is his crown. This church is his joy. Paul’s greatest joy is to see this church maturing and growing and being obedient in the midst of sever trial as they await the Second Coming of Jesus.
Do these qualities reflect your pastor? I want to issue a friendly word of warning: Please do not expect your pastor to be perfect. Don’t expect him to never have any problems or never disappoint you. He will because he is a sinful human just like all of us. I have disappointed my church many times. Here’s the challenge: Pray for your pastor. Undergird him with your support, encouragement, love, and blessing. Follow his godly leadership. Be excited about God’s vision for the church that lives under the absolute authority of the Word of God. Would you express thanks to your pastor in tangible, concrete ways this week?
As pastors we aren’t perfect, but we try to be humble, loving, bold, genuine, and godly examples of what it means to serve Christ and lead His people. Would you lift your pastor up in prayer this week!