Paul and parenting

I stumbled across a scriptural tidbit on parenting the other day, and I have returned to it a couple of times to be re-oriented. (I have found that life is a daily cycle of being oriented by God's Word, following him but slowly drifting from his ways, and then returning to God and his Word for re-orientation. Without daily re-orientation, I am not good for much.)

This passage on parenting is tucked away in 1 Thessalonians 2. Paul explains to the Thessalonians that he was like a mother and a father to them. It's how he characterizes the motherly and fatherly roles that catches my attention.

Paul on mothering: "As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. 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" (vv. 6-8).
  • Motherly key words: gentle... caring... sharing life.
  • This picture of the mother is beautiful for its simplicity and its nurturing quality.
Paul on fathering: "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 called you into his kingdom and glory" (vv. 10-12).
  • Fatherly key words: encouraging... comforting... urging.
  • I think a lot of dads leave out the encouraging and comforting parts and skip straight to the urging. May we be faithful in all three. That said, I love the picture of a father who calls his children up to a high purpose in life!
These are captivating descriptions of the motherly and fatherly roles. But let's not lose sight of the fact that Paul acted as both mother and father toward the Thessalonians. May we do the same, both with our kids and anyone else in our care.

We can also receive these verses as an occasion for worship. Does God do all these things for us: show gentleness, care, share his life, encourage, comfort, and urge? Absolutely. Let us thank him for parenting us so completely!

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