Without question, Paul was a spiritual father to many believers around this area. In his letter, we see why he was so effective. It should be an example for us as well.
Too often we don’t want to be in the position of leading by example. We want to do our own thing and simply tell others how they’re supposed to live. That’s the difference between merely being a teacher and actually being a spiritual father or mother.
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. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-11
Last week I talked about the attitude of giving yourself away with the Gospel. Make no mistake, that kind of commitment is hard work. But it’s part of the mindset of a spiritual parent.
The next thing I see is that Paul lived under the realization that everything he did was being watched and examined. So his goal was to live a holy, righteous and blameless life.
No, he wasn’t a perfect model of the Christian walk. The literal translation of that phrase is; you are witnesses…of how holy, righteous, and blameless we became among you. The key is that he was still becoming these things.
Are you transparent enough for people to see your growth? Or do you pretend to have already made it to perfection? A good parent lets their children see the steps they’re taking toward maturity.
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 2:11-12
I think that one the problems of our modern society is that so many people have never seen an example of a godly parent. We usually have to get there by trial and error. Paul explains it to us here.
The first word he uses – encouraging – means to call near. It’s like what a coach does with his athletes. As a leader, we need to draw out the best from those that we lead. In my experience, they usually have more potential than they think.
The next way a leader functions as a spiritual parent is to comfort. No, it doesn’t mean to help you to feel good after you get hurt. It literally means to relate near. It deals with telling the stories of how we got to where we are.
Too often we look at leaders and assume that they were born into their positions. That’s very frustrating to those under us. They need to hear the stories of the battles, frustrations, challenges and victories that brought us to where we are.
They need to see that we faced the same things they’re going through. If God could bring us out, then He can work in them as well.
The final word is urging. It simply means to testify, like in a trial. We always need to be ready to speak up for how we have seen God’s truth displayed in our walk with Him.
Those young in the Lord face difficulties that cause them to wonder if God’s way truly is the best. They need to hear someone testify that, “Yes, I’ve seen the Lord confirm His Word in my life!”
Those of us that are called to a leadership position in the body of Christ need to learn how to be spiritual parents to those who follow. Only then will we see effective growth in their lives.
Questions: Who are the spiritual parents you look up to? How have they affected your life?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017