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Balanced Parenting

Paul had some insights about parenting that he wrote in his first letter to the Thessalonians.

He wrote to the Thessalonians of his love for them, of his special care and concern for their spiritual welfare, and of his desire that they lead a life worthy of God. But he couched his concern with both affectionate and uncompromising words; affectionate: motherly; uncompromising: fatherly. Let’s see why:

The “Mothering” Aspect of Parenting

When you look at chapter 2 verse 7, we see Paul state that he and his team of ministers gave the Thessalonians tender care and gentleness. In verse 8 he said, “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.” In verse 9 he says, “For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (NASB).

That’s part of spiritual leadership―providing a haven or place of safety and protection for people’s souls and providing security, peace, affection, kindness, gentleness, mercy and love. Paul says his team was like a tender, gentle, nursing mother, giving round-the-clock, personal, intimate care to them. That’s the mothering aspect of parenting.

The “Fathering” Aspect of Parenting

While the mother side wants to cherish, nurture, love, hold, and affirm, the father comes along and says that’s all wonderful, but we also want to be sure at the end that our children are living according to God’s standards, to walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls them (1 Thessalonians 2:12).

Paul had a tender side but also a strong, courageous side in which he demanded the highest uncompromising life. That’s the balance. The mother comes along with her kindhearted love, and the father comes along exhorting to the conduct God requires, motivating the heart to respond, and solemnly showing the consequence of failure. And then he lives the life that he demands of his children.

On the one hand a concern for the person; on the other hand a concern for the process. On the one hand a concern for kindness; on the other hand a concern for control. On the one hand a concern for affection; on the other hand a concern for authority. On the one hand embracing; on the other hand exhorting. On the one hand cherishing; on the other hand challenging.

Sometimes we need a mom; sometimes we need a dad. Spiritual leadership is balanced. Both are needed in every friendship and relationship. Paul was both for his spiritual children. We need to be that as well―in the church in our friendships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and with our children

Bruce Campbell
Bruce Campbell is the executive pastor at Reston Bible Church in Dulles, VA. He has spoken at several MOV Conferences and serves as senior advisor to the ministry.
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