1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
Paul was not a conventional pastor, staying in one place and building up a specific body of believers, but God enabled him to have that sort of relationship with group after group in place after place, and here he expresses a true pastor’s heart. As he himself realized, God kept him from having a biological family so that he could concentrate fully on his spiritual children. (1 Corinthians 7:29-35) Few people have that specific calling, but a father’s heart, as an expression of the Father’s heart, is vital for effective pastoral ministry. What complicates that is that we learn how to be fathers from our own physical fathers, and that example is flawed by definition. Every pastor should consciously seek the Father’s heart, knowing that he himself is a child, and he has much to learn. Pastoral ministry is not something to decide on as a career choice, but rather an assignment from our Creator. Pastors are given by God to the Church as shepherds, and their goal is never personal ambition. (Ephesians 4:11-13) It isn’t an easy job, but then, being a father to physical children isn’t either. Becoming a biological father is very easy, but being a good father is a lifetime of work. Pastoral ministry is much the same way. A Japanese pastor once told me that the unbelieving husband of one of his members told him accusingly, “Being a pastor is an easy way to become a Teacher.” (That’s a high honor in Japanese society.) Nothing could actually be further from the truth! It requires a level of submission and commitment that actually breaks some people, and it must never be taken lightly.
I frankly didn’t really want to be a pastor, but rather just a teacher, and the Lord has had to work on me a great deal over the years. Public speaking has never been a burden to me, but dealing with person after person as if they were my own children has been exhausting at times. Of course, at times it has also been a source of great joy, just as my biological children are, but frankly, that joy is earned! I was talking with someone recently whose heart is more in the specific area of evangelism, to the point that he gets restless when he always sees the same faces in his congregation, and I cautioned him in this area. He is a good biological father, but he also needs to be a good spiritual father to those who aren’t his biological children. God has been patient and faithful with me, and I know He will do the same for others. There is a real lack of good pastors, just as of good fathers, and we need to seek Father God for the solution.
Father, thank You for Your incredible grace toward me. Thank You for giving me the privilege of being a father to some of Your children. May I fulfill Your calling on my life as You desire and intend, so that Your children may be built up and strengthened, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!