I love Paul’s description of pastoral ministry in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. I find in these verses 12 commitments I need to make as a pastor.
1. I will not shrink back from suffering for the gospel (v. 2). We will carry a cross, just as we call others to do the same.
2. I will preach boldly (v. 2). We will be clear in the face of fear.
3. I will not deceive (v. 3). No ulterior motives, no tricks, no gimmicks. Just plain old truth.
4. I will work to please God, not men (v. 4). The most important audience is up there, not out there.
5. I will not flatter (v. 5). Encourage, yes. Point out evidences of grace, I hope so. But no backslapping to get what we want.
6. I will not be greedy for selfish gain (v. 6). We are not in this for the money.
7. I will not seek my own glory (v. 6). It’s not about me.
8. I will be gentle like a mother (v. 7). Let’s try tenderness before toughness.
9. I will share my own self (v. 8). The pastor must freely and openly give two things to his people: he must give the gospel, and he must give himself.
10. I will work hard (v. 9). This is not an excuse to neglect one’s family or personal discipline and rest, but we should not be afraid of toil and effort.
11. I will pursue personal holiness (v. 10). It’s hard to take people where we have not gone ourselves.
12. I will exhort like a Father (v. 11-12). The preacher is not a hothead, but he’s also not a softy. He’s not trying to make everyone mad, but he’s not trying to make everyone happy either.
Pastors, how are we doing? Let’s keep these biblical priorities in front of us at all times. And parishioners, we would be immeasurably blessed if you would pray that we stay true to these things. For if God can help us follow Paul as he followed Christ, our labors among you will not be in vain (v. 1).