Leading Like Paul - Part 3

Following the introduction, Paul reminds the church of his habit of prayer. This is an oft-repeated theme in Thessalonians, examples include:

"We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers" (1:2), "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers" (2:13), "as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?" (3:10).

It is important to note the frequency, intensity, and tone of Paul's prayers. These are not isolated, one time prayers. Paul intercedes on their behalf "always," "consistently," and "night and day." These modifiers suggest that if Paul were probed as to when he prays for his followers, he would be unable to pick out an exact moment or hour. Instead, he would point his entire being. His life and leadership were built upon the bedrock of prayer.

Furthermore, Paul's prayers were earnest. They weren't emotionless, mote repetitions. They were from the heart, brimming with passion and intensity. It is important to keep in mind that Paul did not have years of interactions with this church. Three months of interactions drove his gut-wrenching prayers.

Finally, Paul was thankful for them. The bulk of his prayers were focused on thanking God for their faith; he was overcome with joy and gladness at the mere thought of the church.

A great leader spends time in prayer. He knows that right methods, strategies, and training are completely ineffective apart from God's power. Too often able leaders are quick to leverage their gifts, abilities, and strengths at the expense of leveraging God's strength. This is an especially dangerous trap for the gifted leader. A gifted leader can often in a secular sense lead successfully apart from the power of God. Paul did not settle to lead out of his own strength. Despite his obvious gifting, he spent a bulk of his time in prayer. In fact, the letter closes with a call for the church to imitate his dependent lifestyle and "pray without ceasing" (5:17).

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