Scripture Reading: I Thessalonians 2:17-20

“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” (I Thessalonians 2:19,20)

Having served in pastoral ministry for over forty years, I have seen God do some great things in the lives of many of the people of whom I have been privileged to serve. I have seen people come to the Lord. I have seen people go into missionary service and pastoral ministry. I have seen people be set free from addictions and sinful lifestyles. I have seen broken relationships restored and marriages saved. I have been with people when they died in peace. Seeing the change in people’s lives because of the gospel is a great reward for pastors.

The rewards of ministry are great. Of course, first and foremost, our greatest reward would be if Jesus says to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I hope to hear those words one day. Nothing is greater than pleasing Jesus. No reward comes close to bringing glory to our Savior.

But people are a reward also. Paul loved the Thessalonians. He was so grateful for them. He had seen the fruit of his labors among them. He wanted to hold them up before the Lord and acknowledge the spiritual fruit he had seen in them. He said, “You are our glory and joy.” He was not boasting in his efforts; he was boasting about Christ’s work in them.

But let me also be honest. I have also experienced great disappointments and hurt by some I have ministered to. Paul had those same experiences. However, he didn’t focus on the failures, he rejoiced in the successes he and seen — lives being transformed by the power of the gospel!

I am so grateful that God has given me the opportunity to be a pastor. I am grateful for the people God has brought into my life and for the encouragement of seeing many grow in their faith. As I write this my mind goes back over the years from Centreville, Mississippi to Brookhaven, Mississippi, to Rock Hill, South Carolina, and now in Greenville, South Carolina. I fondly remember the lives of many who remain my joy.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the privilege of serving as a pastor for these many years. Thank You for the people you have brought into my life and for the fruit of my labors as a pastor. I have been blessed and encouraged by them as I have seen You work in their lives.



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