Fathers; February 12, 2023

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 describes pastoral ministry in various of his letters, and all of them are worthy of meditation. The framework here is that of a father with his children. For some that clicks beautifully, but for many not so well, because we have experienced a wide variety of fathers. I subscribe to a newsletter called Fatherly, and just yesterday it had a very good article (actually a reprint from a couple of years ago) about the massive impact for good a present, involved father has on their children, and how damaging it is when that is missing. Suffice to say, Paul is talking about a good father! However, when our own father left a lot to be desired, the lack of a model can make it challenging to say the least to be a good father to our own children, physical or spiritual. In such cases in particular, meditation on what Paul wrote can be very instructive and helpful. I get the impression he had a good father! Here we have three elements mentioned: encouragement, comfort, and discipline. (The discipline might not seem so obvious here, because he isn’t talking about genetic children.) Fathers, and pastors, should certainly encourage their children. Sadly, that is often not the case. Fathers need to tell their children that they have ability, which they do, and praise them for jobs well done. That doesn’t mean praising something done carelessly, without real thought or effort, and it does mean encouraging them to do even better, but it very much means not putting them down for their efforts. Then there’s comfort. Life is rough, and everyone runs into problems that can seem devastating at times. Fathers, and pastors, need to be available as a shoulder to cry on if needed. Many fail in that area. We aren’t to run from emotion, either our own of that of our children, but be fully present and open and honest. That will produce secure children! And then there’s the matter of discipline. Writing here about pastoral ministry, Paul says “living lives worthy of God.” In other words, straighten up and fly right! In our human foolishness we all need that. Physical children certainly do, and so do spiritual children. However, we aren’t to be legalists, punishing for the sake of punishment. Acting that way would mean that we ourselves wouldn’t be living worthy of God!

As both a physical father and a pastor, I’ve got a lot to think about here. I was greatly blessed to have a wonderful, though not perfect, father. Actually, there are no perfect fathers apart from God! As someone with Teacher gifting, I have tended toward giving instruction as opposed to encouragement, and that’s not always been good. I’ve got to appreciate, and give thanks for, less than perfection! And actually, that applies to myself as well. I’ve got to give everything my honest best, as unto the Lord, (Ephesians 6:7) but doing that, leave the results in His hands. I’m neither a perfect father nor a perfect pastor, but God uses me in spite of that, and I’ve got to be at peace with it. I think I do moderately well at giving comfort, but there’s always room for improvement. Discipline is always tricky, and as my physical children have grown that is now entirely in the form of advice and encouragement. That could be said of my spiritual children as well, because I can’t exactly spank my church members! However, as I will be doing this morning, I need to urge them on into ever-growing maturity in Christ, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your patience with me, and for giving me patience with my physical and spiritual children. May I be the father and pastor You want me to be, for the blessing of my children and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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