The primary task of the pastoral leadership is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (Eph 4:12). The “ministry” to which all believers must be trained by their pastors comprises four areas: evangelism, discipleship, mentoring, and counseling.
At Thessalonica, three groups needed special counseling: the disorderly, the fainthearted, and the weak.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, the first present-tense command is to “continually be admonishing the undisciplined [or disorderly].” To admonish means “to warn, [or] exhort”—literally, “to put in mind.”
In this case, they are to warn the “undisciplined”—literally, the “not-orderly,” or the “lazy or neglectful of duty.” This was a military term applied to the soldier who does not remain in the ranks and hence is out of order.
This group had violated the pattern for the believers (2 Thes 3:10): “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner [same word], not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.”
Second, all believers are to “continually be comforting the discouraged,” which means to “come alongside with helpful instruction and insight.” The “discouraged” refers to someone of “small soul,” thus someone who is “fretful, fainthearted, worried, or timid.” These people easily become worried, imagining their failures as inevitable. They need their fellow believers to calm their fears and build up their confidence, self-esteem, and personal value to the body of believers.
Third, we are commanded to “be continually helping the weak,” which means to “wrap arms around, hold on to or cling to” the “fainthearted.” They need to be cheered up, stimulated to press on. Do we care enough?
Fourth, we are commanded to “continually be patient with everyone.” Never expect people to be perfect: “Love suffers [is patient] long and is kind” (1 Cor 13:4). Some require more energy, but God gives more grace to serve others. Can you learn these commands with others?
“Father, Your Son Jesus embodied all these aspects of living to please and honor You. Guide me as I try to practice admonishing, comforting, helping, and showing patience to those You lead across my path each day.”