1 Thessalonians 5:11-13, Amplified Bible (AMP)
11 Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.
12 Now also we beseech you, brethren, get to know those who labor among you [recognize them for what they are, acknowledge and appreciate and respect them all]—your leaders who are over you in the Lord and those who warn and kindly reprove and exhort you.
13 And hold them in very high and most affectionate esteem in [intelligent and sympathetic] appreciation of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Huh?! There’s not one mention of “praise” or “worship” in this scripture. However, I believe that it touches on a very important yet often under-emphasized concept of Christian living and, specifically, a having a successful praise team.
Context: We Have More Important Things to Worry About…
As Paul closes this letter to the church at Thessalonica, he gives hope to them regarding the death of loved ones in the light of what Jesus’ resurrection means for them as Christians. Then, he encourages (and warns them) regarding the seriousness associated with the Lord’s return. However, unlike the warnings by Harold Camping and others fixated on when the Lord will judge the world, Paul’s letter does NOT seem so “gloom and doom” and (specifically in verse 12) is more about encouraging the believers.
Often, when it comes to other people in our life, even our Christian brothers and sisters, we let our other concerns, however serious they are, trump Christ’s command to love one another. Paul is basically saying, the end of the world as we know it is NOT more important than how we live our lives and treat our neighbor.
Know Those You Work For AND Those You Work With
“Know” is a word that is used much more strongly in the Bible than we use it today, even at times meaning to be intimate (sexually). Although in verse 12 it means “to see” (both physically and mentally; i.e. “I see what you mean”), I believe that for our long term work relationships (such as praise teams) we ought to take a couple notes from our romantic relationships. In short, we should know and appreciate those that we work for and work with beyond the ways that directly benefit us or our shared cause. For a praise team or choir, this includes the music minister, pastor, and other leadership (who we work for) as well as the group’s singers and musicians (who we work with).
Honor Your Colleagues For Their Work
Verse 13 goes further, suggesting that we highly esteem others for their work. Remembering the context, this is not simply how well Sis. So-And-So can hit those high notes or Brother Man can make that organ talk (although that may be a good start), but also the other aspects of their lives that are worthy of honor. This is even an opportunity to uplift the less-impressive members of your group by recognizing the unique challenges they face daily and yet faithfully come to serve God in the area of music. Paul ends the thought by telling us to be at peace with ourselves; how much easier is it to be at peace with those you share a mutual respect and honor with?
It Is Important To Get To Know Each Other
There have been times where I will pause in rehearsal for some “get to know each other” exercise or focus on some non-music related issues in our lives. I have even suggested that groups have a get-together outside of rehearsal time. As a director, like many people, I am tempted to think this is a waste of time. However, Paul’s reminder and the eventual effects of a mutually loving, caring, honoring group of individuals toward the goal of becoming a better music ministry, encourage me that it IS worth the time. After all, aren’t we brothers and sisters in Christ first?