How to Be Imitated
Today I read the end of 2 Thessalonians and Paul makes an incredibly interesting statement there about his time in Thessalonica:
...nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we did not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. (2 Thess. 3:8-9)
We had a right, as apostles, to have you support us. We gave them up and worked alongside of you. So, go and do the same thing. The Thessalonians were struggling with idleness because they expected the return of Christ soon and in turn decided that it didn't make sense to work and provide for themselves and their families. They were just waiting for Jesus to come back and make everything right. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy set a different agenda: follow us and wait for Him but don't become idle.
Those of us who lead and influence the spiritual lives of others have to be impacted at the deepest places by this concept.
How would our leadership change if we gave up our rights to power and advantage from time to time so that we could give others an example to imitate?
It sounds like we'd become more like Jesus, and so would they. Formation through imitation, on both sides of the coin.