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 (NIV)
The Apostle Paul is very specific here in defining a fatherly role and gives three special characteristics of a Christian father. We fathers tend to apply them in reverse order but Paul states them as:
Like children, we are often tempted to give up. When that happens, the real need is for someone to come along side who can identify with and encourage them to keep going. A Christian father is one who is always there to give an encouraging word when needed. And the need is often!
This reference is to the kind of comfort that helps a child or another person carry a burden of grief or pain. Just by coming alongside in this concerned way, the burden is made lighter and the pain is lessened. We were not created to be alone, especially in grief. The Christian father and disciple maker is also always there for times of comfort giving.
This is the direction and assertiveness characteristic that should be evident in the father/disciple maker relationship. There are times when the father moves from the side to stand squarely in front and confront them with something that they need to face. The dangers in not exercising this responsibility are very great and should compel us to be diligent toward both our children and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
J.J. Andrews is an elderly Lutheran pastor friend in Rangoon, Burma—now Myanmar—with a great father’s heart for ministry. Several years ago his daughter died of viral hepatitis. Two months later his wife passed away from a broken heart. Six months after that one of his sons suddenly died. He was crushed. He said, "I felt like Job, only no one visited me."
A young Filipino staff member of Open Doors heard about this situation. He made a special trip just to visit Brother J.J. and encourage him. J.J. said, “Thank you for coming in my darkest hour.”
Some months later, I was visiting Brother J.J. in Rangoon. He had his young grand-children laughing and playing around his home. He smiled as he shared unforgettable lessons with me. The words I remember verbatim were, “God rewarded me for my perseverance and healed my broken heart!” The ministry of encouragement is straight from the heart of Father God.
RESPONSE: Today I will commit to being an encourager, comforter and exhorter.
PRAYER: Thank You Lord for Christian fathers who have modelled Your heart with their children.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.