Author and Professor, Dr. Robert Kelleman, gives advice to young leaders

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May 13, 2013 by eimrick

Dr. Bob Kellemen, Th.M., Ph.D., Bob is the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition (, the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries (, and for the past 17 years has served as the Founding Chairman of the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship Department at Capital Bible Seminary. Bob has pastored three churches and equipped biblical counselors in each church. Bob and his wife, Shirley, who is a kindergarten teacher, have been married for 32 years. They have two adult children, Josh and Marie, one daughter-in-law, Andi, and one granddaughter, Naomi. Dr. Kellemen is the author of nine books, including Equipping Counselors for Your Church, Soul Physicians and Spiritual Friends. He blogs daily at RPM Ministries with the calling to: “Equip You to Change Lives with Christ’s Changeless Truth.”

Read what Dr. Robert Kelleman has to say to emerging leaders.


“Advice to Young Leaders: You’re Not Just the UPS Delivery Guy”

When Rick asked me to participate in this blog mini-series, I kept thinking and praying about what I would say that could capture the heartbeat of ministry. My mind kept returning to a theme verse for my ministry:

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

Paul’s words in this verse and the rest of the chapter encapsulate the biblical counsel I want to share with young ministry leaders.

Just the UPS Delivery Guy?

Recently I heard an excellent message on the power of God’s Word. The fine speaker, committed to biblical ministry, concluded his message by saying, “We’re just the UPS delivery guy!”

Hundreds of pastors, biblical counselors, educators, students, and church leaders said, “Amen!”

I said, “Amen” at first. I understood the speaker’s point: The power is in the message (God’s Word), not the messenger (God’s servant).

But upon further biblical reflection, I have my doubts that this is the most comprehensive biblical way of picturing how God uses people and how God uses His Word.

• Ephesians 4:15 teaches that the message of God’s Word is powerfully effective to lead God’s people to grow in Christ when the messenger speaks and lives God’s truth in love.

• Philippians 1:9-11 teaches that the message of God’s Word is powerfully effective to lead God’s people to live Christ glorifying lives when the messenger unites love with depth of wisdom and insight.

• 1 Thessalonians 2:8-10 teaches that the message of God’s Word is powerfully effective to lead us to live lives worthy of Christ when the messenger shares both Scripture and his very own soul.

• Romans 15:14 teaches that the message of God’s Word is powerfully effective to lead us to disciple one another when the messenger is full of goodness and complete in knowledge.

What’s the common denominator in each of these four passages?

According to God’s Word, God’s plan is to use His message shared by the messenger whose character and love are like Christ.

Now, if the UPS delivery guy is like Christ, then that illustration works!

5 Pictures of the Messenger of the Message

In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul addresses the question”

“Does the Bible teach that only the message matters, or that the messenger’s character/motivation and the messenger’s relationship to the hearer also matter greatly?”

He answers his question by explaining that the Word of God will be received as the word of man (1 Thessalonians 2:13) unless the Word of God is shared with the love of a father, mother, brother, child and shared with the respect/honor of a king/mentor!

The historical context and the purpose of this epistle suggest that Paul was making a much larger than point in 2:13 than simply affirming the Thessalonians for how they received God’s Word. Paul had been accused of being one of the charlatans who was motivated by greed and fame. To authenticate his message, Paul authenticated the messenger. He did so not to pat himself on the back, but to communicate to everyone for all time that God’s plan is to spread His message through Christlike messengers.

In God’s sovereignty, His plan is to use His Word powerfully when it is presented by His people relationally. Now, can God use the Word when we are non-relational? Yes. However, He can also use His Word when our content/knowledge/truth presentation is less than perfect/optimal. Yet, would we say, “Well, God’s Word has the same likely outcome whether we share it accurately or not”? No. Nor, can we say, “God’s Word has the same likely outcome whether we share it lovingly or not.”

With this background in mind, now let’s ponder five images that Paul uses to picture the messenger of the message.

• Portrait Number One: The Love of a Defending Brother—“I’ve Got Your Back, Bro!” (1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2:1-17)

• Portrait Number Two: The Love of a Cherishing Mother—“I Long for You with Nourishing and Cherishing Affection” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

• Portrait Number Three: The Love of a Shepherding Father—“I Love You Individually and Uniquely with Guiding Love” (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12)

• Portrait Number Four: The Love of a Longing Orphan—“I Love You as an Orphaned Child Bereaved of His Parents” (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18)

• Portrait Number Five: The Respect of a Proud King/Mentor—“I Respect You and Am Proud of You” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)

What’s Paul’s biblical point? The messenger of the message is important! We’re not just the UPS delivery guy! We are a brother, mother, father, child, and mentor!

Ministry Evaluation: Scripture and Soul

Could those we minister to say this of us?

“I experience you as a defending brother, cherishing mother, shepherding father, longing child, and proud mentor.”

When we minister the Word to people, whether from the pulpit or the lectern, whether in our office or at Starbucks, would people say of us?

“He loves me so much that he is delighted to share with me not only the gospel of God (Scripture) but his life as well (soul), because I have become so dear to him.”

Join the Conversation

What is likely to happen in our ministries if we relate to people like the UPS delivery guy?

How could our ministries more fully reflect the five relational images that Paul portrays in 1 Thessalonians 2?


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