Monday, April 18, 2011

1 Thessalonians 5:11

"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing."

Are you a leader?  The answer to this question does not depend on your rank or your position in the hierarchy of your company.  We are to function as leaders regardless of any formal authority that we have over others.  Leadership depends on our capacity and willingness to encourage and build up others.  The Greek word that is translated encourage in this passage is παρακαλέω which is made up of two smaller words: παρα which means beside or alongside and καλέω which means to call.  Calling others alongside is a leadership function which has both an active and passive component.  Our example (passive) must precede our words (active). 

Reflect on Paul use of both passive and active leadership as he encourages the Philippian believers.  Despite being in the worst possible circumstances one could imagine Paul rejoiced.  Philippians 1:12-14 states: “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.”  Despite being in prison, Paul did not go to pieces but instead rejoiced because the Gospel was being spread as a result of his situation.  Paul was leading by example. He did not feel sorry for himself; he was not angry, bitter, or frustrated.  He did not seek vengence because he was wrongly imprisoned.  Instead, he rejoiced!  He was exemplifying the Christian life that he had been teaching.  He then followed up with the active component in leadership by issuing a command to them in Philippians 1:27- “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”.  Paul was calling the Philippians alongside where he was- disregard for his own personal, temporal comfort for the sake of the Gospel.  This is leadership as defined by Scripture.  This is what we are to imitate.

Be a leader in the mold of Paul.  Recognize that your Christian walk is not for your own benefit but for the benefit of others.  Be prepared and willing to encourage others.  Preparation requires your constant exposure to the Word of God.  Be Scripturally saturated- not so that you will be puffed up with knowledge but so you will be prepared for God to use you to teach and encourage others. We cannot bring others to a place where we are not at ourselves as the writer of Hebrews points out in his rebuke of the believers that he is writing to- “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” (Hebrews 5:12).  Establish your example by living a life that is grounded in the Biblical truth that you have learned and then be ready for opportunities to encourage others.  Fear not for God will provide the opportunities.  Your preparation for and engagement in the encouragement of others will result in your drawing nearer to God.

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