As you read chapter two, note the recurring phrase “you know” (and variations on it, “as you know,” and “you remember”). These are important because they remind us that nothing in this letter is new. Paul is simply reviewing matters he taught them when he was there – only a few months previously. Paul was not there very long, however, and that is important as well.
What we have in Thessalonians is possibly the only sample (outside possibly the gospel of Luke) of what early Christians taught new converts. As you read it, look for the sort of things Paul reminds them of, and consider that these things were basic to Christian teaching.
But in chapter two particularly, Paul talks about how he conducted his ministry. First of all, he was a hard worker. The people of Paul’s day were accustomed to being asked for donations to support wandering philosophers, but Paul did not do that. He did not want people to feel like he was “living off” them. Second, he demonstrated how much he cared for them, treating them like their mother and father. Third, he was not a “do as I say” kind of preacher. He was a “do as I do” kind of fellow. He realized he was an example – the only example of Jesus they had ever seen.
All Christians are engaged in ministry. To be as successful at it as Paul, we will have to conduct our ministry as Paul conducted his.