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The 5 Emotions of Ministry (Part 2)

The 5 Emotions of Ministry (Part 2)

As I was reading through 1 Thessalonians a while back it struck me when I got to the end of chapter 2 and into chapter 3 how Paul was speaking clearly about his emotions as he discussed his ministry to the Thessalonians. Some are “negative” emotions, some are “positive,” all are important. Understanding these emotions is vital to understanding God’s direction and to gaining God’s power in your ministry.

Read Part 1 to catch up on the first two emotions of ministry.


The concern that Paul had for the Thessalonians was answered when Timothy brought a report back to him: “But now Timothy has just returned, bringing us good news about your faith and love. He reports that you always remember our visit with joy and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you” (1 Thessalonians 3:6 NLT). He was thrilled that they were growing, and took great joy that they still remembered his visit fondly.

How often do you need encouragement to stay healthy and motivated in ministry? Hebrews 3:13 tells us to encourage each other each dayso you need it at least daily. Encouragement is like manna, you need a fresh supply each day. Some of that encouragement will come from others, but much of it will also come from what you choose to take the time to notice.

Don’t forget to watch people grow. Paul talks about the good news of their faith and love. Soak in the joy of changed lives and you cannot help but be encouraged. That’s why I love to watch baptisms, you can see the joy on people’s faces. Sometimes we’ll do videos at Saddleback where we show baptisms in slow motion and you can see the full expression of joy explode on a person’s face as they come out of the waters. It’s like an adrenaline shot of encouragement!

Also, don’t forget to enjoy the relationships. You don’t want to become so intent on getting the job done that you forget people ARE the job. Ministry is a relationship that includes tasks, don’t let it become a task that includes relationships.

Whose growth do you need to enjoy?


Paul was facing the trial of persecutionand from that he had two sources of stress. One was his own stress, which seems far less than the possible stress of those he loved. His greatest stress is that they might have been distressed. Every parent understand this, having felt far greater stress for their child than for themselves.

Paul used two phrases that show us how to reduce the stress. First, he says, “We were destined for them.”  “And to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know” (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4 NLT).  Ministry includes troubles, and those troubles are a part of God’s plan for your life and the lives of those you are serving. Even if Satan himself throws them at you, God will use them in his plan. God will take whatever suffering you go through in your life and use it for his glory. I’m reminding you of things you already know, knowing that we all need to be reminded. Paul isn’t being fatalistic . . . he’s being realistic. Fatalism says, “I cannot change my circumstances.” Realism says, “I can trust God to change some of my circumstances AND God will work through the circumstances that cannot change”

The second phrase Paul uses in regard to his troubles is “We are encouraged in them.” “So we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 3:7-8 NLT). It’s easy to think that you are either distressed or encouraged . . . one or the other. Paul talks about being encouraged in his distressI’d like to know how to do that! How do you deal with stress? Sit down and watch TV until it goes away? We often try to entertain our way out of stress, but when the entertainment is over the stress is still there. The greatest healer is a little encouragement, and recognizing that you don’t have to wait for the stressful circumstance to be over before God can encourage you.

How could God encourage you in the midst of a stress?


In the reality of dealing with negative emotions like fear and stress, never lose sight of the joy! Paul talks about joy being both now and then. Now, he says we have joy in the presence of God. “How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence” (1 Thessalonians 3:9 NLT). Then, when Jesus returns, those we have served will be our joy and crown. “After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 NLT). There are two words for crown in Greek: Diadema, the crown of a king; and Stephanos, the crown of victory. Paul uses the second here. He’s describing the victory of eternal joy. When we have an awards ceremony we give a plaque or statue or medal to people as an award. In eternity the people are the award!

I see the humor of God in thisbecause many of the people we struggle with on earth will be our joy and crown in heaven. That deacon you constantly showed love to even in their bitternessjoy and crown. That gossip you constantly steered towards the truth—joy and crown. That person who fell away or child who wandered who returns to faith after you’re gonejoy and crown. Your “cross to bear” will often become your crown to wear.

What does that day of joy motivate in your life today?

Let me take you back to all five of those questions we’ve asked about the emotions of ministry to ask yourself which one hits you the strongest and which one is calling you to act.

Where can you “stand it no longer?”

Where has your fear kept you from launching out?

Whose growth do you need to enjoy?

How could God encourage you in the midst of a stress?

What does that day of joy motivate in your life today?

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