You experienced it all firsthand. With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step–by–step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life. 1Th 2:11-12
Paul both cared for the church in Thessaloniki like a mother and like a father. As a mother he was gentle. A mother is first in caring for a child. She is recognized by the child before the father. The first care we give somebody in the church is motherly. Just as Paul did. Wait – Paul? Yes. If women can be sons, we men can be mothers and the bride.
But there are three things that a father imparts into his children.
The King James calls these three things exhortation, comfort, and charge.
- Exhortation, teaching, holding ones hand brings motivation to a child.
- Comfort brings self-esteem. Value. Boldness even in and after failure. Stamina. A sense of belonging.
- To charge somebody brings the necessary energy, power, endurance.
It is interesting to see that our generations lack all three – motivation, self-esteem, endurance.
We live in a fatherless time. Not only do we have as many divorces as never in history – even when a marriage holds, the father is absent most of the time. Most of us work outside the home, work overtime, and have extra-work activities going on. That may be the gym, since we need some balance to our white collar work immobility or inertia. Maybe a hobby – model airplanes, riding our bike, collecting stamps, you name it – to take a break and relax.
Children are brought up either by their moms or by child care personell – usually women too.
Not only boys lack the father’s impartation of motivation, self-esteem, and endurance.
Don’t get me wrong. Women are motivated, have self-esteem, and at times even more endurance than men – no doubt. But it is not their duty, their calling, their assignment, and not even in their authority to impart those to children. They can do that only in part, as God is faithful. Just as Paul had enough of a mother to give the young church enough care to start to grow. But Paul also invested himself into mothers, as well as into the other fivefold ministry gifts. A pastor is a better pastor than an apostle – just by definition, calling, and grace – yet the apostle can function pastoral until there are pastors emerging. Same with mothering. Or moms fathering, if necessary. Still, if there is no pastor down the road, the church lacks severely.
If there is no father in a home, the children lack severely. If there are no fathers in a generation, society lacks severely. And if there are no fathers in the church, it lacks severely and will not develop into what God has planned for it. It will lack motivation, self-esteem, and endurance. There is a fair chance that it will become a feel-good club with emphasis on hurts and pains. And now, take a look around you.
There is evangelism and child care without fathers, maybe even pastoral care, but there is no discipleship.
But then, Malachi pointed to an age where the hearts of the sons will be turned to the fathers and vice versa.
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Mal 4:5-6
In that time, there will be fathers! Where there are hearts of the fathers that can be turned, there must be fathers! There is hope!
So, there will be fathers – and we have seen them arise in many places for a while now. There will be healthy relationships, starting with mutual heart-to-heart connections between fathers and their children. And there will be healing of the church and the earth in all of that as people will again learn motivation, self-esteem, endurance among other things – such as obedience.
If not? This earth will be cursed. That means, it will suffer the consequences: unmotivated people with self-doubt, hurts and pains, running from counseling to pastoral care to spiritual guidance, giving up easily in the light of circumstances.
Easy to see that we live in these times of curse – and there is but one cure: fathers.
Are you ready to grow up and eventually become a father?