Marks of a Faithful Missionary part 2

1 Thessalonians 2:7-12
Dr. David Harrell | Bio
November, 22 2015

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Marks of a Faithful Missionary part 2

Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.

Let me read to you these verses that we will be looking at in 1 Thessalonians 2. We are going to look primarily at verse 7 through 12 this morning but me get a running start by reading Paul's words beginning in verse 5,

5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is witness-- 6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

The health and effectiveness of any organization requires quality leadership. Whether it's a company, a government, a military, a church, even a family, excellent leadership is essential or the institution will fail. We are currently witnessing the collapse of virtually every system in our great nation due to many years of incompetent and corrupt leadership. Universities like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, that were once bastions of biblical scholarship, training clergyman, are now fortresses of Satanic deception committed as Paul says, "to speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God." Why? Because of ungodly leadership. Many evangelical denominations, many churches, many Christian colleges that were once citadels of biblical orthodoxy and orthopraxy, have apostatized all because of ungodly leadership. Institutions like marriage and the family, the bedrock of our society, are disintegrating before our very eyes because of ungodly, failed leadership and, naturally, this leadership crisis affects the church.

In many institutions, the moral integrity of its leader is really not that big of a concern. In fact, immoral, greedy, deceptive, selfish leaders can be quite effective and quite successful. You can see this, for example, in business. We see it all the time in politics, even in the military and so forth. But dear friends, a godly character in the two institutions that God has ordained, namely marriage and the church, in those institutions, character counts. In both spheres, a man's integrity before a holy and omniscient God is absolutely paramount to the effectiveness and the success of those institutions because God simply will not bless hypocrisy. The Apostle Paul understood this, especially as it related to his life and ministry in Thessalonica and everywhere that the Lord had him go.

Last week, we examined the first six verses of 1 Thessalonians 2 where Paul defended himself against the attacks of his critics who were trying to discredit his character. They accused him of being just another religious huckster that had come along to exploit the people for personal gain. They were used to that. The critics were trying to demean and discourage those baby Christians in order to get them to doubt and even reject their newfound faith which, by the way, is a common ploy of the enemy. So Paul defends his character here in this text, but you must understand that Paul's defense was not motivated by a concern for his own reputation, per se. He was zealous for the Gospel. He was passionate about the reputation of Christ and the glory of the God that he served and he knew that his own personal integrity reflected upon all three of those things because character counts in service for Christ. You see, a man's life must match his message, otherwise his message will be discredited and his Lord will be dishonored.

So he had to defend himself for these reasons and if I can digress for a moment, because each of us as believers are a reflection of Christ, we must all remember that who we are alone before an omniscient and holy God matters just as much as the message that we preach and the service that we render. This is especially true for pastors and for elders. The man whom God has called to serve him in that most sacred realm must constantly guard his heart and examine his motivations. You see, who we are in private with God is who we really are, not who we are in public necessarily. Purity of heart and sincerity of devotion conditions all that we do for him so therefore we must be vitally concerned about the cultivation of these things in our soul before we tend to the souls of others. Hypocrisy and pride, they are such deadly sins and how dare we pretend to be physicians of men's souls when our own is dirty and diseased? We may keep our secrets from others but we cannot keep them from God. We may have what appears to be great success in ministry but it will not be a work of God; it will be a joint work of the flesh and of the devil. You see, when our true motives for serving God are fundamentally selfish, he may well allow us to receive accolades of glory but he will remove his presence from us. Ichabod will be written across the doorway of our churches which means "the glory has departed," for indeed we serve a jealous God who has said that he will not share his glory with another.

So character counts in Christian service, in Christian ministry. Paul understood this and he was deeply concerned about this in his own life and in all those who would follow him in spiritual leadership. So in his defense, we see that Paul was really committed to 11 virtues. We examined the first five last week; five ruling convictions of his heart that really defined his life and ministry. You will recall that he, as a faithful missionary, was confident in God's supremacy; committed to God's truth; certain of his calling; consumed with pleasing God, not man; and captivated by the glory of God. These must also be the ruling convictions of every faithful pastor who must shepherd those who come to Christ, otherwise you end up with the kind of juvenile superficiality and apostasy that we see in many churches around the world today. Far too many pastors are self-willed, self-appointed entrepreneurs impersonating a pastor, committed to self-display and self-aggrandizement. They preach a wide gate Gospel. They end up filling churches with unbelievers who really do not know Christ. I'm always amused at Charles Spurgeon, the insight that he had from the word of God. He saw this coming 150 years ago when he warned, quote, "A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats." And we see this all the time. Just turn on your television and you will see it. Fewer and fewer men embrace those five ruling convictions that I just stated that ruled Paul's heart as a faithful missionary to Macedonia.

But now as we come to verses 7 through 12, he reveals seven more Christ-like virtues that those five core convictions produce. So here we have six more marks of a faithful missionary or of a pastor who must now shepherd those who have come to faith in Christ, six marks of effective spiritually leadership, if you will, and I might add that wherever these are absent, Christ will be dishonored and the sheep will struggle and they will scatter. Here Paul uses the metaphorical imagery of the intimate relationship that a mother and a father will have with their children and this pictures the kind of godly care that is crucial for every spiritual leader. To be sure, Paul was a role model of what true leadership should be in the Christian community.

Let me give you the little list here. Like a godly mother, he was characterized by 1. Tender devotion. Secondly, deep affection. 3. Sacrificial love. 4. Selfless labor. But also like a godly father, he had a heart dedicated to holy living and biblical instruction. And we must remember that in that idolatrous, immoral, self-centered, Hellenistic Greek culture, these characteristics were absolutely foreign. They had never seen anything like this before. So let's look at these closely and see what the Spirit has for us this morning.

Like a godly mother, the faithful missionary or pastor or church leader must be characterized, 1. By tender devotion. Now, bear in mind, this is unlike the unscrupulous, self-serving, manipulative, arrogant, abusive, itinerant, religious charlatans that they were accustomed to. So, again, in verse 5, Paul says, "For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed--God is witness--nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. But," he says, "we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children." The term "gentle" encompasses the idea of being calm and caring, tenderhearted, compassionate, patient, tolerant of imperfections. It's indicative of a person who is safe, who is approachable, and this is how we need to be when we present the Gospel to other people. This is how we need to be when we disciple other people. It's so crucial. You see, Paul wasn't overbearing and authoritative. He didn't bully and intimidate these baby Christians asserting his authority as an apostle, but instead he says that, "We proved to be gentle among you as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children." "Tenderly cares" really translates the idea of "to warm with body heat," a fascinating concept and what a beautiful picture; Paul and Silas were like a nursing mother to these dear people.

Now, you all know that nursing moms provide a nurturing relationship with a helpless infant and that helpless infant can feel perfectly safe and cared for in the mother's arms. This is how a spiritual leader needs to be and, of course, ungodly worldly leadership which often finds its way into the church, will consider this to be too schmaltzy and relational, kind of too weak, lacking in authority and strength. But, you know, just the opposite is true. This is how Christ was. So as we look is the Apostle Paul, he wasn't a drill sergeant trying to whip these people into shape so that they would make him look good and accomplish his goals, but rather his priority was to love them, to nurture them, to instruct them, and then to watch the Word and the Spirit gradually conform them into his likeness.

Now, we all know that a godly mother will be tenderly devoted to caring for her child. She will do all she can to nurture that child's development and godly leadership must do the same. We know that even as every child develops at a different pace, so too every Christian and so therefore getting angry and demanding and impatient will only frustrate the child, but the gentle parent will be caring; will be patient; will be tolerant of those imperfections but always teaching the child, encouraging the child, and training the child. This was what was going on with Paul and with Silas. If I can put it very practically to you: every believer in a church should be able to say with great conviction, "I know that I can approach my pastor and my elders with any problem, with any concern, at any time, because they have proven themselves to be gentle as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her children. They are men who are tenderly devoted to my well-being." By the way, husbands, this is how you need to be; this is how you need to be perceived by your wife. Fathers, this is how you need to be perceived by your children.

Well, the Thessalonians could affirm this with Paul and Silas and Timothy. These men were known by their tender devotion, but also like a godly mother, they had deep affection, 2. Notice the first part of verse 8, "Having so fond an affection for you." It's interesting, this translates a very rare Greek word used only here in the New Testament and it connotes the idea of this bond that a parent will have with a beloved child. In fact, ancient tombs that contained a child often would have this inscribed upon it in order to describe the intense love the parent had for that child. This must be at the heart of the faithful missionary, the heart of a faithful pastor or elder, or any spiritual leader.

I want you to put yourself in the position that they were in. Think about this: they had just come from Philippi; they had been beaten with rods; they had been cast into a dungeon, placed in stocks. That means that they had deep internal bruising and their backs would have been ripped open; they would have been bloodied. Then God sends the earthquake along, they are released from the jail and what do they do? They didn't run to a hospital. They didn't call the police. They didn't file for Workmen's Comp. and disability. Instead, they ran to Thessalonica, about 100 miles. Can you imagine going that distance on foot that far? And why did they go? In order to hide? In order to cower in fear to protect themselves from perhaps experiencing the same thing? No, even with those bruises and the congealed blood upon their backs, they risk the same treatment by preaching the Gospel and giving their lives to those new converts. What a demonstration of their deep affection for those, he said, "who had become very dear to us." Beloved, if you're in spiritual leadership and you do not have this kind of deep affection for your church family, now hear this: all of them, the good, the bad and the ugly which will include me, those that are easy to love and those that are hard to love; if that is not you, you are serving in the flesh, not the Spirit and God will simply not be in the things that you do.

It's interesting, later on in chapter 5, verse 14, Paul says, "And we urge you brethren, admonish the unruly." In other words, the lazy and undisciplined. So they had the lazy and the undisciplined in that church. He goes on to say, "encourage the fainthearted." These are the ones that are timid and easily discouraged, especially in light of all the persecution. He says, "encourage the fainthearted." Then he says, "help the weak." It refers to those that are spiritually and morally weak. "Help them." Then he says, "be patient with all men." You see, this is the kind of tender devotion that they had for the people, but this requires a deep affection for all of the people. Imagine those problems that they had, especially in light of the cultural barriers that they were having to overcome because you've got Hellenistic Gentiles coming out of pagan idolatry, and then you've got Jews coming out of all of their legalism, and now you're mixing them together in one church. So they would've had enormous problems but by God's grace and by godly leadership, amazing things happened.

Well, tender devotion and deep affection will produce a third maternal virtue. Notice in verse 8, he says, "we were well pleased to impart to you not only the Gospel of God but also our own lives." So 3. They were characterized by what we might call sacrificial love. We were well pleased, isn't that interesting? In other words, it wasn't out of duty but out of desire that they ministered to them. They didn't have a sense of obligation but because of the overflow of their love for the people, their love for Christ, the joy that they had in their heart, they were well pleased to impart to you not only the Gospel. You see, they went beyond the divine commission to give them the Gospel, they were willing to share their very lives. Why? "Because you had become very dear to us."

Friends, practically speaking, a godly missionary will never stand aloof from those to whom they preach nor will a pastor detach himself from those that God has entrusted to his care. Any pastor who isolates himself from being in relationship with his congregation has never truly been touched by the Gospel that he proclaims. You see, there is something terribly wrong with the missionary or the pastor or any church leader that is inaccessible, that is unapproachable. Think of a pastor who would insulate himself from being in contact with his people, a pastor who would lock himself away in his study and only emerge to preach his sermon; a pastor who doesn't have time for the children or the elderly or the youth, or the single women, or the single men. No time for the lonely, the disenfranchised. You see, there is something terribly wrong with that type of ministry.

You see, pastors, if I can speak to you specifically: we are not CEOs, we are shepherds. We are shepherds and shepherds need to smell like sheep. I would say, brother, if that is you, you are not in need of better time management, you are in need of a heart transplant. There is something terribly wrong with your priorities. I would submit that those five ruling convictions of Paul's heart are not ones that you share therefore your leadership will not be characterized by tender devotion, deep affection and sacrificial love. Your secret motivations are all out of whack and therefore God is simply not going to be in what you do. We are called to have watch care over the souls of those that God has given to us as those who will give an account, Hebrews 13:17. I'm constantly reminded of what Peter said in 1 Peter 5, he says, "shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock."

So like a godly mother who gladly gives her own life for her child, Paul and Silas were well pleased to impart to them, not only the Gospel of God, but also their own lives because they had become very dear to them, but their sacrificial love was concomitant with yet another virtue that is indicative of motherly love and all of you moms are going to identify with this, 4. Selfless labor. Verse 9, "For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God." Now, every mother knows what this looks like, you know what it feels like, and so too does every faithful missionary and faithful pastor. You see, faithful ministry requires strenuous labor and a willingness to endure hardship.

Now, this was completely antithetical to what the people experienced in that day with the itinerant charlatans that kept coming through town; they were greedy, self-serving, but Paul and Silas worked hard as artisans. Paul was a tent maker, no doubt Silas helped him. He tried to supplement some of the support that they received from other places, especially some that we know came from the saints at Philippi as recorded in Philippians 4. We read more about this in 2 Thessalonians 3. Here's what Paul says in verse 7, "For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example."

It's interesting, Paul speaks of how they worked night and day. The idea is that they worked long, hard hours and as a tent maker, that's what that required. It was a very difficult trade. It required exhausting labor, long hours, and it was very low pay and basically artisans like that worked from sunup to sundown. In fact, 2 Corinthians 11:27, Paul says to the saints there, "I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep." Now, mind you, along with his labor he's also preaching the Gospel. He's also defending himself and others against all of the critics and the opposition. He's also discipling new believers. I tell young men that want to go into the ministry, "If you're not willing to spend 50 hours a week at least, then you don't need to be in that position."

And the reason Paul did all of this is because he didn't want to be a burden to anyone and we know from other passages that the saints in Macedonia, including the people in Thessalonica, were very poor but they were generous. In fact in 2 Corinthians 8, we learn that the saints in Thessalonica were in deep poverty yet they gave beyond their ability to help the impoverished believers in Jerusalem. Now, that certainly is a testimony of God's grace in the lives of those that he has redeemed.

So Paul and Silas worked as artisans to pay their way so that they wouldn't be a burden to new converts, and how sad it is to see from time to time a lazy missionary or a lazy pastor with a sense of entitlement mooching off of other people. Several young pastors that I am currently mentoring are struggling financially. I know what that's like. I remember those days myself. They are bi-vocational as I was the first five years here at the ministry at Calvary Bible Church. But while that may be exhausting, it is also very helpful, I tell them in at least two ways: 1. It will test the motivation of your heart. 2. It will prove to the people that you're not in it for the money that you're in it because you love them and you love Christ.

Well, like a godly mother, Paul and Silas were not only characterized by tender devotion, deep affection, sacrificial love and selfless labor, but like a godly father, they had a heart dedicated to, 5. Holy living. Notice verse 10, "You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children." Folks, I want you to understand, these were great men of God. These were godly men with strength of conviction; men of courage, willing to take a stand and fight for truth and for righteousness and he says, "You are witnesses and so is God." In other words, their life was an open book and their character could be validated by the testimony of other people who watched them. You see, their lives and labor proved the power of the Gospel. Their lives and labor authenticated the reality that God was at work in them. It's interesting that repeatedly he appeals to them as witnesses. Verse 1, "for you yourselves know." Verse 2, "as you know." Verse 5, "as you know." Verse 9, "for you recall." Verse 10, "you are witnesses." Verse 11, "just as you know how we were." You see, those they loved and served were their greatest defense against the slander along with God himself. No one who really knew them could point an accusing finger at them. Can there be a more powerful witness than that? Can there be a greater exoneration against slander? Everyone who knew them would agree that like godly fathers, they modeled, as he says here, holiness, righteousness and blamelessness before God and man.

As I thought about this, I thought, "Oh, for more men to stand in such company." For there to be more husbands and fathers and missionaries and pastors and elders and deacons, every spiritual leader to be like this. I often wonder where have all of the godly men gone? And I praise God that there are so many who are a part of this church, but that is so rare. In fact, what has happened to manliness? Satan has successfully created a culture that is bent on the feminization of young men. There is this gender neutrality movement that is gaining momentum that says that we must avoid policies and language and social institutions like marriage that distinguish roles according to persons, a person's sex or gender. We've got to do this to avoid discrimination. And maybe you've heard about this new movement of gender-neutral parenting; raising children without stereotyped notions of what is for girls and what is for boys and so forth. In fact, our society is rapidly moving toward androgyny, the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. We see this all of the time, this sexual ambiguity in fashion, and sexual identity, in sexual lifestyles.

Yesterday I was at the mall with Nancy. I don't get out very much, as you can tell. But folks, I say this not to be funny but with a sense of broken-heartedness, I would look at people and I couldn't tell if they were a boy or a girl. I would ask Nancy, "Is that a boy or a girl? I don't know." And folks, I would submit to you because I have worked with people all of my life and I've seen God do miraculous things in the effeminate and the homosexual, this has far more to do with a sinful heart and with nurture than it does with nature. And this is so sad. In its quest for gender neutrality and freedom from all morality, our society has produced a new kind of male, the pusillanimous sissy boy that grows up to be an effeminate girlie man. You see this all the time. They've got the lisp. They've got the walk. They've got all of the hand gestures that signal their identity to other people. And you know what's heartbreaking? Many of our Christian young men and women seem to be comfortable with that. It's heartbreaking. Folks, you don't need to tolerate that. You need to lovingly come along these dear people and gently but forthrightly give them the Gospel. We live in a culture that exalts the effeminate, that honors the homosexual, that praises the bisexual and the transgender. I still can't get over the fact that a 66-year-old man who thinks he's a woman and dresses up like one and who has been surgically mutilated to supposedly become a woman, received the Woman of the Year award from some women's magazine.

Folks, this is just a testimony to the metastasizing corruption of sin and human depravity. This is heartbreaking. People need the Lord and the church need real man like Paul and like Silas. Men who will lead their wives and their families and their churches with strength of conviction, and indefatigable courage. Men who will live and proclaim the unfathomable riches of Christ and who will simply not back down. In 1 Corinthians 16:13, Paul addresses this very thing. There he exhorted the men saying, "act like men, be strong." Guys, you need to hear that. Act like men, be strong. Gals, you need to hear that. This is what you want in a husband, a man that acts like a man biblically and is strong biblically.

This would've been a concept that he would have been well familiar with from the Old Testament and from personal experience. In fact, if you look at the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, you see that same phrase used to translate key passages concerning men who were called to be men of God who would lead with strength of conviction and courage. Deuteronomy 31, beginning in verse 7, "Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, 'Be strong and courageous,'" act like a man and be strong, "'for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.'" This is the type of men that we need in the church today.

God spoke to Joshua in Joshua 1, beginning in verse 5, "No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you." Here it is, "Be strong and courageous," act like a man; have strength of conviction; trust in me; go forward with boldness. "Be strong and courageous for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only," he has to say it again, "be strong and very courageous." Guys, do you get the idea that this is not natural for us? That God has to remind us of this? "Be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

As I was thinking about this, my mind immediately went to those great lyrics, "Rise up, O men of God, have done with lesser things, Give heart and mind and soul and strength, to serve the King of kings." And what does that look like? Those kind of men like Paul in verse 10, will be devout, upright and blameless. Devout means that they were men committed to personal holiness before the Lord their God. To be upright means to be committed to righteousness, submitting to the will and the word of God. The idea of being blameless is that of being committed to personal integrity in the privacy of your own heart before an omniscient God and therefore having a blameless reputation with others. Folks, this is foundational to biblical manliness. This is essential for godly maleness. This is what every wife wants in her husband. This is what every child wants in a father. This is what they long for and this what believers should see in their leaders so that through us they might see and experience Christ until he comes.

Finally, like a godly father, not only were those men fearless and tireless in their commitment to holy living, but they also had a heart dedicated to, 6. Biblical instruction. Paul explains this through the use of three verbs: exhorting, encouraging and imploring. Notice verse 11, "just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you." By the way, that's interesting. It denotes that they singled out people individually; they didn't just talk with them as a collective whole. They discipled them one-on-one. "You know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children."

Look at these verbs: exhorting. It comes from the Greek word "parakaleo." It means "to call alongside," and it is a term that is related to the noun "parakletos" which is one of the titles that is used for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who comes alongside to instruct us in righteousness; to help bring conviction; to lead us to willingly and joyfully be obedient. Not only were they exhorting, they were encouraging like a godly father will do. This carries the idea of offering compassionate care; the ability to comfort and console those in need and to seek to restore them to a place of fellowship and blessing before the Lord, a place of stability, showing them that Christ's strength is made perfect in their weakness. Then finally, imploring. You could maybe translate it "urging." It carries the idea of calling one just to live consistently with divine truth in order to avoid the forfeiture of blessing and avoid divine chastening.

Again, men, this is what should characterize a godly father and also this is the mark of a faithful missionary, a faithful pastor. Why? Why was this so important? Verse 12, "so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory." Walk basically means that you will conduct your daily life in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

Folks, there it is. Marks of a faithful missionary, marks of a faithful pastor, however you want to put it, marks of a godly spiritual leader. Paul was a role model of what true leadership should be in the Christian community. Like a godly mother, he was characterized by tender devotion, deep affection, sacrificial love, and selfless labor. And like a godly father, he had a heart dedicated to holy living and biblical instruction.

I want to close by quoting something from John MacArthur. He summarized this so well. Here's what he had to say. "The parental pictures of spiritual leadership in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 clearly demonstrate that leadership in the church must be balanced. It is not enough for leaders just to be compassionate, tender and caring as spiritual mothers, they also need to live uncompromising, pure and exemplary lives as spiritual fathers; lives that in their motives and actions set the standard for all to follow. Furthermore, they need to teach the truth faithfully, building up the saints in spiritual wisdom, and displaying the courage of conviction to come alongside and exhort and call their spiritual children to obedience through both strong discipline and tender consolation. These efforts lead their congregation to live in a way that honors God who has called them to his eternal kingdom and glory."

Folks, I would challenge each of you to measure your life, especially if you're a spiritual leader, against this standard. But I also want to say in closing that these virtues don't just happen. They must be modeled. They must be taught. They must be cultivated and that is certainly the passion of Calvary Bible Church.