Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Paul's Pastoral Heart

1 Thes. 2:6-8 (ESV)
Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. [7] But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. [8] So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
I once heard a man claim that Paul was not a pastor. Now the relation of the apostolic office to that of pastor is not the point of this post. Paul was an apostle, more than a pastor, not less than a pastor. And this man was trying to discredit the idea that the pastoral office finds its genesis in the apostolic office. But one of the reasons he offered for Paul not being a pastor was his temperament. Evidently Paul was too abrasive a personality to be a pastor, but not so abrasive as not to be an apostle. Quite frankly I have not time for such nonsensical ideas. I don’t know that we could ever know the full scope of Paul’s personality from the letters he left behind for us. I do know that Paul’s letters are a gold mine of pastoral advice.
Paul gets done talking about how he did not come with flattery, or to please man. And I have seen the pastors that zero in on this sort of talk. But then you see this. “We didn’t seek glory from people.” “We could have made demands” (implied here is but we didn’t). “We were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her children.” I think pastors could learn a lot from this. Paul didn’t go excommunicating people over an argument he had with them in private over the color of the carpet. He was gentle with the people. He didn’t walk around like Herr pastor, aloof with the arrogance of a Prussian officer. In fact he was so affectionately desirous of the people, he shared not just the gospel with them, but also himself. I could be wrong here, but I think that means he befriended. He wasn’t afraid to let people in to see who he really was “chief of sinners”. He broke bread with them, not just the lord’s supper, but also a loaf of pumpernickel. (O.K. so there was not pumpernickel at that time, but you get the point.) He became their friend. Even as he gently corrected them with patience understanding that people don’t always change overnight, and sometimes never do before death. Say what you want, but I think Paul is displaying a pastoral heart.

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