In our previous blog, we began to investigate the principles by which Paul was so successful in his ministry. In so doing, we were hoping to see what we should emulate. We need to treat the new believer as a child in the faith.But we are not to leave them as a child. We are to help them mature.
“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:12–14)
MINISTRY IS LIKE BEING A MOTHER
“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. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” (1 Thessalonians 2:6-9)
Most mothers are very tender with their newborns, whether changing them, bathing them, or feeding them. And have you noticed, she is always talking to the baby as she performs these daily tasks. She does it because she loves her child and wants to share her life with the little one. Moms don’t simply give the child helpful facts to live by; she shares her life with them as they grow.
In the Jewish communities of Jesus’ day, the early years of a child were more the responsibility of the mother. But as the child grew, the father became more involved.
MINISTRY IS LIKE BEING A FATHER
“You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 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.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10–12)
Fathers are to be role models, who lead their children by example. Notice what kind of character Paul said he was to lead by: holy, righteous, and blameless. Also notice that he was to lead them into a life of honoring God by encouraging, comforting, and urging his son or daughter. The father is to motivate his kids by encouraging them, not by browbeating them. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
Many dads hold up unachievable standards before their kids. Instead of motivating them to do their best, it discourages them. They often spend the rest of their lives hoping to hear their father say, “I’m proud of you.” Sadly, their father often dies before they ever hear those words.
How does parenting in the natural world relate to ministry in the spiritual world? Both call for mentors who are gentle and loving, who are good role models, and who dish out plenty of encouragement. We never outgrow the need for people like that.