But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. – 1 Thessalonians 3:6-8
I have been blessed to have had the privilege of pastoring a lot of people and, like most who serve local churches, I wasn’t always good at it. As fallible and “fleshly” as we are prone to be, pastors make mistakes and don’t always handle things (in retrospect) as they had initially intended. In the best cases, they are able to mend those relationships and all are improved by the experience. In the worst, there is still hope for reconciliation with the redeemed. God has been gracious and allowed me to remain in touch with many of these wonderful people and even continue to see them live for Christ and serve our Savior.
Paul “lived” to see his “children” standing firm in the Lord, and it made whatever he endured worthwhile. I cannot speak for all those who have had the privilege of shepherding God’s “local” flock, but I can speak for myself. There is no greater blessing. To know that, in spite of your weaknesses and failures, a child of God encountered God’s Word, received that Word, applied that Word, and now lives that Word, that is grace.
Pastor, you will stumble. Best to be humble. Church, your pastor just wants you to draw near to Christ in order that you may be transformed by His presence. His greatest blessing is your consistent commitment to Christ.
Prayer, study, and suffering make a pastor. – Martin Luther