One of Paul’s missionaries, Epaphroditus, became so ill he nearly died. When the faith community heard about it, they rallied in prayer and concern until they were able to see him alive and well. Ministry is not a one-way street; ministry is faith and action in community.
There has been a habit, I think, among faith communities to expect the pastors and ministry teams in the church to be the only ones doing ministry. We believe our ministers will always be healthy, level-headed, wise, compassionate, and forgiving – almost as if they were Jesus themselves. Their mistakes are heightened, sparking parking lot meetings, angry anonymous letters, and uncensored verbal criticism. As Christians we strive to do better. As humans we regularly fall short. Your ministers need care and compassion, too. They need to spend time with their families. They need to take their vacations and continuing ed. They need to be allowed to make mistakes without fear of swift, harsh retribution. Yes, hold them accountable for their actions, but do so with compassion and understanding. There may be a time you will step into the role of minister for them. How will you show up then?
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But Timothy’s worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon. Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need; for he has been longing for all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.