The Heart of our School Service

"For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed? God is witness.

Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory." (1 Thess. 2:1ff)

Paul's heart for and ministry to the church is instructive as we strive to serve our students, parents, and each other in a way that pleases Christ.  Here are some simple thoughts and applications on this passage.


We must be courageous and bold in declaring truth to students, parents, and to each other. The primary truth is the Gospel.  Never assume that a student or a parent is a believer.  He or she may not be.  As appropriate and with love and wisdom share the Gospel.

In the Midst of Much Conflict

We don't like conflict and we try to avoid it.  However, conflict is unavoidable and is even profitable IF the the conflict arises from being honest versus being a difficult person or responding inappropriately to others.  For example, we need to deal with the conflict that arises when we tell students or parents the truth.  If a student is failing to work hard (being lazy), is being irresponsible, has violated a school policy, is not yet good enough to start on the team, is a bully, etc., we need to say so.  We are to speak the "truth in love," never in a mean spirited or condescending manner, but we must tell the truth.  We don't avoid necessary conflict, we work through it profitability for all concerned.

Pleasing God not Man

We like to be liked.  It is tempting to do that which will make others like us or to avoid doing that which may make some dislike our decisions or us.  The praise of others must not be the motivation for our decisions and actions.  God's praise is to be our goal.  Popularity is as fleeting as your last decision or the latest fad or current values in our culture.  God's standards never change.  We are to desire his smile, not the smile of people.  However, we must also remember that Jesus grew in favor with both God and man.  We don't please God by being obnoxious, difficult, or self-righteous.

Not Self centered-It is Not about Us

Paul sacrificed what he had a right to, willingly gave it up to serve.  Although most of us are compensated well and fairly, most in Christian education could make more in a similar position in the public or corporate sectors.  Our work and ministry could also be easier if we never stretched ourselves, never tried new things, never adopted new methods, never reworked our material, etc.

But our motives are not related to compensation or avoiding extra work or frustration.  Our motive is to serve by being "living sacrifices," by "being "poured out as drink offerings" in service to students, parents, and each other.  This is not easy.  This is not what the world values and preaches.  Our sacrifices are not always known or appreciated by others.  It doesn't matter.  We seek "first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness;" we'll leave the rest to God's wise providence.

Not About our Reputation or Praise

Like Paul, we do not seek "glory" from men.  Whether we are liked and praised (although nice) is irrelevant. What matters is faithful, fruitful service to God as we render service to students, parents, and each other.  Like water on a duck, we must learn to let BOTH the smiles and frowns of others roll off of us.  It is the smile of God, not men, which we seek.


I like the title Gentleman, Gentle-man.  In today's culture it is assumed that gentleness is weakness and real men (or modern women) are strong and aggressive.  There is nothing wrong with being strong and aggressive.  In fact, we must be to serve Christ.  Christ was very strong and aggressive (just think of how he responded to the Pharisees!).   But Jesus was also described this way:

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.  I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.  He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;  a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory;  and in his name the Gentiles will hope. (Matthew 12:18-21)

We are to combine strength with gentleness in our dealing with others.

Sharing of Ourselves

It is easy to share a lesson, a lecture, truth, even the Gospel.  We just talk.

What is more difficult is sharing ourselves.  This requires time, sacrifice, even vulnerability.  We must share both WHAT (true, etc.) as well as WHO (ourselves).  For example, it is one thing to TELL our spouse that we love him or her, it is another thing to give OURSELVES IN OUR ACTIONS to DO loving things.  Likewise, it is one thing to tell students, parents, and each other truth and that we care.  It is another to demonstrate it.

Hard Labor

Those who have never taught or coached have no idea how hard it is!  It is hard work.  It is often under appreciated.  It takes time away from family.  It goes into the evening and weekends.  And, sometimes, no matter how hard we work, how much effort and time we put into coaching, teaching, or leading we get criticized.  Frankly, sometimes we just plain get abused by others.  So did virtually every saint I can think of in the Bible!  It goes with the territory!

Teaching, coaching, and leading in a Christian school is not a 9 to 5 job.  That is okay.  We are stewards of souls--eternal minds and hearts.  What we do counts forever.  It changes lives.  It changes communities.  It matters.  Therefore, it takes hard work and long hours.  No one makes us do this.  This is a calling.  This is a stewardship.  Whether other appreciate our hard work is irrelevant.  What matters is that we are faithful in cultivating our gifts and fulfilling our callings to the maximum of our God-given abilities.

We have not been called to a "nice life."  We have been called to labor.

Holy and Blameless Conduct

We are redeemed sinners.  We are not perfect.  We sin.  We fail.  We fall.

But, the tenor of our lives must be such that our conduct is holy and blameless, above reproach.  We are morally pure, we are honest and full of integrity, we don't gossip, we don't complain, we are full of the Fruit of the Spirit.  We are not self-serving.  We are, by God's grace, an example to others, especially to our students.

Exhorted, Encouraged, Charged

We urge and appeal to our students, parents and each other to do the right thing.  We encourage the discouraged, the tired, those who have stumbled and need a helping hand up.  We commission others--giving them instruction and a mission.

What a hard and glorious calling we have!  May God grant us the grace to fulfill it for his smile and for his kingdom!