Today I’ve been talking about leaders… specifically the emphasis that is placed on leaders in today’s church. We don’t typically see that emphasis in Scripture.
Yes, there were leaders in the NT church and there are a few passages that speak directly to or about leaders. But, primarily, the NT authors addressed all believers… whether leaders or not.
I think this passage from 1 Thessalonians is becoming one of my favorite passages about leaders in the church. Why? Because the passage about leaders is directly followed by a passage about everyone:
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 ESV)
Of course, I would translate it a little differently. The phrase that the ESV translates “are over you” is actually the phrase “lead you.” Also, the word translated “brothers” would probably better be translated “brothers and sisters.”
It’s also interesting that Paul writes exhortation in the plural: “We urge you…” instead of “I urge you…”
One more thing… in discipleship terms, the strongest command in this passage is probably “admonish” which is a command given to both all “brothers and sisters” and to “those who lead you.”