As you study this blessed book you find a genuine passion and zeal from the heart of Paul toward the church in Thessalonica. He established the church there, but was soon ran out of town by the religious crowd who were offended by His preaching of Jesus. (The preaching of Jesus is still offensive to many today, but we need men of God who will proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of adversity.) Even though Paul was absent from them in body, he still longed to be with them and was concerned with their spiritual well being. Even though he wasn't with them physically, he still had a burden for them and wanted to ensure their prosperity in the Lord.
1 Thes. 3:1-2
Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;  And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
1 Thes. 3:5
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
Now, one might read these verses and assume that Paul had just taken the easy way out. He knew the opposition he faced in Thessalonica, and on the surface it might appear that Paul was simply afraid to return to the city. When we study the life and ministry of Paul, we know that is certainly not the case. Paul was a man of great boldness and commitment. He did not choose to stay because he was afraid; he stayed in Athens alone for the good of the church. The man of God made a personal sacrifice for the benefit of the church. We can't begin to comprehend the lonliness that Paul felt as he watched Timothy disappear from sight as he made his way to Thessalonica. Paul longed to be there; he wanted to preach the Word to them; he wanted to encourage them in the faith, but he knew that he would benfit them more by staying away than by coming to them.
That certainly challenged my heart as a pastor. Would men of God today be willing to make such a sacrifice for the good of the church? I am grateful for some preachers that I love and admire. They have made a tremendous impact on my life and ministry. These men have given sacrificially of themselves for the good of the church. However, I fear that many preachers today are looking at ministry from the wrong perspective. Often their current church is viewed as only a stepping stone to the larger church they so long to have. Their work is nothing more than a vocation where they do their "duty" and recieve their pay.
Men, we cannot look at our calling from the eyes of the world. We are where we are, I hope, by the providence of God. He has not called us to a particular place of ministry to wish for something else. Our main objective is not to seek the next big thing that is available. God wants us to bloom where He has planted us, and if He chooses to move us that is His business, but we need to be acitve and busy where we are right now!
I thought of my pastor this morning, Rev. Bill Smith, as I looked at this passage. In October of this year, he celebrated 30 years as pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Taylorsville, NC. Bethel is a country church located about 10 miles from the nearest convenience. He has labored there all of those years as a bi-vocational pastor. I am sure that there have been times when he wanted to quit. Surely there may have been times when he wished for something else, but he stayed there because he knew that is where God had placed him and the Lord has blessed his ministry.
For me, that is the heart of God's man. It provides contentment when those around would find none. It creates a love and commitment to the congregation we are called to serve reagrdless of the number, talent, or financial status. God's man loves God's people because the Lord has placed that love within the pastor's heart.
Do you have a pastor that loves you and the church you attend? If so thank God for that man, becuase the Lord has enabled him to love you as he does. It wouldn't hurt to let your pastor know that you love him either. He may need a little encouragement today and you might just have the word that he needs to hear. I am grateful for my pastor. I would not be where I am today had he not loved me and preached truth when I needed it!