Why do I do what I do? Is it for me or for God?
In reading 1 Thessalonians 2, I began to realize that much of what Paul was going through in Thessalonica was a shift away from a focus and attention on the church (1 Thessalonians 1:2–10) to an emphasis on the apostles and what they were going through in Thessalonica (2:1–12). The first chapter found effort being placed on growing the church in Thessalonica. The second chapter finds Paul going deeper into the kind of heart and attitude to help the apostles to serve as role models to those they came in contact with. It was a fundamental shift from a quantity mindset to that of grace-filled quality.
Recently, I began leading this year’s men’s ministry again as I have for the past several years. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon to have upwards of 60-70 men in attendance on a Saturday morning week after week. This year, we had the lowest turnout on record… 14 men. What was going on? Was it me? Couldn’t be… after all, we had just come out of a record year last year with almost 70 men at one point, and I was leading! I began to get bitter.. what was going on?
There are many reasons why one moves into teaching, preaching, and service. As Paul went deeper to address quality over quantity, he contemplated whether his ministry was pleasing to God. He became more interested in the church growing, based on the right spiritual principles, through God’s grace. In this chapter, Paul bares his soul in a way that challenges us to consider our own spiritual hopes, dreams, and reasons for serving God so that we will please God and have the right influence on others.
After speaking with a brother in Christ about my concern of low numbers in the men’s group, he listened, then shared “you know… my father used to say don’t get bitter, reconsider.” And in the context of men’s group, deep prayer revealed that this season of low enrollment was just a season. But, prayer also revealed, through the Holy Spirit, something I didn’t want to face… pride! Was it MY words that people came to listen to? Or was it the Holy Spirit working THROUGH me to guide these men? This reflection helped me to see that it was more important in THIS season, that I speak into the lives of a small, dedicated group of men that I otherwise would not have been able to do in a way that would have been as effective had there been a group size of 60-70 men. Numbers are impressive, but I believe that God is expecting more… as it should be… going deeper is where real growth is found!
Dear Jesus… just as Paul examined himself so he could dedicate his life to You and influence the apostles to know You better in Word and more importantly, action, help us to know You on a deeper level… at the heart level, where You speak to us when You want us to know it’s really You. For only when we know You deeply can we expect to approach all things, with joy, which comes from knowing who You are, and not our experiences with things that don’t really matter in the long run. Quality, not quantity… to know You better takes time and deeper reflection… thank you for being the God that doesn’t give up on us when we do what we do for the wrong reasons. Amen.
gstefanelli (Greg Stefanelli)