Establish and Exhort

…we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s co-worker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith….
1 Thessalonians 3:2

Twenty-two years ago – in April of 1995 – I was sitting with a bunch of guys waiting for my name to be called.

I was in the pews of the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis with my brothers in Christ and fellow seminarians as we awaited the announcement of our first calls in the pastoral ministry.

I didn’t have to wait long – at least not as long as most of the guys. That’s the blessing of have a last name that begins with a “B”!

I was excited. But I was also nervous and not a little scared.

My wife – who was sitting a dozen or so pews away with the rest of the wives – was feeling the same way.

We were about to find out where we were going to move to. After being married for four years and living in the St. Louis area that entire time, we were about to find out what congregation extended a call of the Holy Spirit for me to “establish and exhort” them in their faith.

That first call was to Christ Lutheran Church in White Cloud, Michigan and our time there was wonderful!

The calling that a pastor has is at the same time exciting and frightening. The Holy Spirit places us exactly where he knows we are needed.

It isn’t always where we would choose to be, however.

I wonder if that was how Timothy felt.

He was a companion of St. Paul and had traveled with Paul and Silas and Luke to Macedonia and Greece.

It was clear to them that Paul wanted to eventually end up in Athens where they would have the greatest opportunity yet to reach more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But after Paul was the Holy Spirit’s instrument in starting a church in the city of Thessaloniki, it soon became clear that someone would have to stay behind while Paul traveled on to Athens.

Timothy was chosen to “establish and exhort” the Thessalonians in their faith. He would serve there for time and the church there would thrive by the power of the Holy Spirit working through Timothy’s service.

Timothy would eventually move on to another place – ending up in Ephesus as pastor.

Just as I would not remain in White Cloud, but would be called to Mayville, Wisconsin and then Ontario, California, and then to Hawthorn Woods, Illinois.

Some men spend their entire pastoral ministry in one place. Others move around like I have.

But in each place there are people who become especially important to them.

If you are not a pastor, I encourage you to be one of those people. If you are a pastor, I encourage you to find these people!

Paul was writing to the Thessalonians, in part, to thank them for encouraging and supporting Timothy as much as he was encouraging and supporting them.

As a member of your congregation, I strongly encourage you to pray for your pastor or pastors. To support them, encourage them, lift them up when they seem down. And do the same for their wives, if applicable!

I’m not writing this to get someone to do this for myself, by the way. There are already people in my own congregation that do this for my wife and I – just as there has been in our previous stops – and we thank God for them!

In the last couple of days about 100 men received their first calls to the pastoral ministry in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

They are excited, I’m sure. And not a little fearful.

But please pray for them. If you know one of them, or one of them is coming to your church, I pray you will encourage and support them as they come to serve you and alongside of you in the Kingdom of God where you are!

©2017 True Men Ministries


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