Teaching the Thessalonians About God's Role Among Them. Yet, by relaying their thanksgivings to the Thessalonians, Paul and his team were doing more than cheerleading. There were also helping the young converts understand that they were most profoundly a work of God, not of Paul and his colleagues. Even though the Thessalonians were "working" and "laboring," this was ultimately the result of God's work among them, not that of their pastors or even the Thessalonians themselves. Thus, in conveying their prayers of thanks, the pastoral trio was teaching the Thessalonians. Moreover, they were effectively moving themselves away from the center and acknowledging God's rightful place in the middle of Thessalonian church life. How many pastors need to decentralize themselves and to cede to God the central place in the life of their church!
Conclusion. As I reflect upon the opening thanksgiving in 1 Thessalonians, I am struck by what a difference it made that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy thanked God for his work among the Thessalonian believers and told them about it. Their gratitude, communicated both to God and to the young church, impacted both the pastors and the flock. Above all, it honored God's work and recognized his centrality in the life of both pastor and church.
When I get overly focused on some problem, when I let relatively minor things steal my joy, when I start thinking that ministry is all about me, I need to learn from the masters. I need to step back and pay attention to what God is doing. I need to focus on the positive and offer appropriate thanks to the one who is responsible. And, if I am pastoring a flock of people, I need to let them know how thankful I am for what God is doing in, among, and through them.