Ministry 7 Left and Right-brained

(See all posts in this series at

As I mentioned in my last post “Ministry 6 Who and What” I’d like to continue to look at other biblical indications about the character of a pastor. They are clear and vivid and give us direction when we look for those whom God is working with to put into the ministry.

The Apostle Paul was a remarkable man in that he was an academic, learned and knowledgeable in the scriptures.  His writings are worded in an academic style as an analytical, logistical and factual person signifying a “left-brained” dominance.  His letters and biography in the book of Acts constitutes the bedrock and core of Christian theology. Paul clearly appeared to be the most learned of all of Jesus Christ’s leaders, yet one who was not taught directly in the three-and-a-half-year ministry of Jesus when He was on the earth.    

On the other hand, Paul was also thoughtful, intuitive and subjective. These are characteristics of a “right-brained” person. We see characteristics of both in the Apostle Paul as my next two biblical narratives show in his relationships with the churches in Thessalonica and Ephesus.

As Paul was boldly preaching the Gospel to eager listeners, he was also bonding with them in a most personal way. He gave them a lot more than knowledge.  Let’s take a look as he speaks to the Thessalonians.  I highlight Paul’s words relevant to my point.

“But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness — God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.

“But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.  You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” (I Thessalonians 2:4-12)

Wow! These are words of a former Pharisee (Acts 23:6). Pharisees were not usually associated with such words of personal benevolence. He loved the people that he preached the gospel to and literally gave his entire life to them. He loved them and they loved him.

Here’s another instance of Paul displaying his humanity as he is bidding farewell to the elders in Ephesus where he spent three years.  He knew he would never see them again.  Note how he expressed his thoughts about them and how they responded in kind.  Again, I emphasize the words that I want to make my point:

“From Miletus he [Paul] sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.  And when they had come to him, he said to them:

“‘You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.  So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

The Farewell

“And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.  (Acts 20:17-38)

So, what do we glean from this?  The New Testament pastoral ministry calls for a total man devoted to the people in his charge. He must be knowledgeable as well as relational. These two examples confirm this.

More to come….

One comment

  1. Well, that was refreshing to read.
    The old teaching about how a minister should be “at arm’s length” and never a friend, was long overdue for review …in line with what the scriptures say, as you have quoted …and also by our Saviour in John 15. 🙂

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