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.
Here we have the heart of a pastor expressed. Paul didn’t have any physical children but he certainly had multitudes of spiritual children. Of course Timothy was most like a son to him, but to a degree everyone he had ministered to was his child. We often overlook this part of Paul because of his strong words in various areas, but this shows that he didn’t just write 1 Corinthians 13, he practiced it. However strong his words, they were undergirded, and usually overlaid, with the love of God. His desire was that he “present everyone perfect in Christ,” (Colossians 1:28) and he gave all he had and was to that end. We are so prone to be distracted by all sorts of things, from status to salary to almost anything, but if we forget to be good fathers to our spiritual children, we’ve thrown everything out the window.
I have long bemoaned my “lack of pastoral gifting,” but I can identify with this passage very much. As a physical father I know how I feel about and relate to my physical children, and it’s really not much different from how I relate to my spiritual children. I tend to express the same parenting style in both situations. I think I have been affectionate but not terribly controlling. I have delighted to teach when asked, but have been burned by the response when I have tried to instruct when there was no receptivity. I do know that my desire is always that my children express fully all that God has placed in them, doing His will on His schedule for His glory. And when they do it, I could burst with pride! The service here on the 20th was a good case in point, as they had a good service, proclaiming the love and faithfulness of God through His Word, even though Cathy and I weren’t here. I was absolutely delighted to hear the recording of the service, and felt like my efforts are being rewarded. I am not the perfect physical father and I am not the perfect pastor, but God can and does use me in spite of myself, and for that I am deeply grateful.
Father, thank You indeed for Your faithfulness. Thank You that there will be more opportunities for my spiritual children to blossom as I am preoccupied with Cathy’s hospitalizations. I pray that You would use everything that happens to build us all up individually and as a part of the Body of Christ, so that all of Your plans may be fulfilled indeed, on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!