Profiles in Character: A Look at Shepherding and Spiritual Leadership IV

[This is a brief small group/Bible class series that parallels the sermons of Dean Barham at Woodmont Hills Family of God in Nashville, TN, for the month of July 2009. You may listen to Dean’s lessons here.]

A Shepherd’s Presence

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

This text is one of the most “pastoral” passages in all of Paul’s writings. It reflects not only his heart for those among whom he ministered, but it also testifies to the nature of his presence among them as well as his purpose, motive, and method. This is a text that displays the relational nature of Paul’s ministry.

Paul had to leave Thessalonica before he wanted. It is a young church (perhaps only six months old!). He wants badly to return and has tried (1 Thessalonians 2:18). But, unfortunately, Paul has had to leave them in the hands of the leaders he left behind.

Paul reminds them of his ministry among them for at least two reasons. First, he does not want them to think he has forsaken them but rather that he deeply loves them. Second, by this example he encourages the present leaders (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:12) to follow his lead.

How should leaders lead? How should they minister among people? Paul describes his own ministry.

Several broad ideas indicate some of Paul’s own understanding of ministry and leadership.

  • Motive—please God or please others?
  • Greed—for money or self-sacrifice?
  • Nurture—sharing ourselves or seeking flattery?
  • Honesty—transparency or hiddenness?
  • Calling—live for the kingdom or for ourselves?
  • Presence—parental-like love or self-interested power?
  • Proclamation—the good news of the kingdom or self-aggrandizing rhetoric?

Shepherding means relationships as well as providing direction and declaring the good news of the kingdom. Paul expected leaders in Thessalonica to follow his own example.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Given Paul’s descriptive testimony of his own ministry, which metaphors are particularly striking to you?
  2. Identify some characteristics in this text that you believe are particularly important for contemporary leaders to display. Why are these important to you? How do you manifest them in your own life?
  3. Reading this text, what do you think was the major charge against Paul’s ministry? Of what did they accuse him? What sounds familiar in this text in relation to contemporary leadership?
  4. How might contemporary shepherds insulate themselves from such charges? How does this text guide us?

One Response to “Profiles in Character: A Look at Shepherding and Spiritual Leadership IV”

  1.   rich constant Says:

    you know john mark
    sometimes we just have to let god judge us as we go into new environments.
    in my case some of the guys say to me i might be the smartest guy in the room.
    i just say thanks and it IS a small room.

    ya know john mark I’m me and you are you.
    that is just the way it is .

    and i know you have your room.
    it is about intent the love of Christ that we try to exhibit in our life.
    and a lot of people need put a name tag on everything,
    to me anyway.
    i know and you know and a lot of guys on this blog know.
    what James says be not many teachers
    because of the stricter judgement.
    that should be taken very seriously…
    to say nothing of what peter says about Paul’s teachings….
    by the way that’s why i ask your opinion
    it is better to take advise than to receive an judgement by our lord.

    my brother i try and the lord has blessed me in ways that i consider almost unbelievable
    i press on knowing the more i know. the more their is to know and that will always be the case with me anyway.
    to me compared let’s just say to you
    i am the blind man feeling the trunk of the elephant
    their is a joke their it has slipped my mind for the moment, although i know and you know .
    what i am speaking of is a compared to what?
    and we all know that answer

    as always blessings

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