The Gentle Father

“But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7).

In one sense, Christians and the world share a common approach to various activities. For example, both Christians and unbelievers must follow the rules of a sport, such as basketball. They cannot foul another player without a penalty, nor can they dribble the ball out of bounds. But in another sense, they approach the game much differently. The Christian answers to a much higher power than the referee. He or she knows that God watches our actions, such as how we react when we lose, or shoving another player who gets in our way. The world may do these things; we know we cannot.

Similarly Christian fathers must approach the family with different eyes than the world. For example, the typical father may expect things all to go his way in the home, not investing time in developing his children and not nurturing his wife. He sees himself as the head and demands that all bow to him.

The Christian, on the other hand, looks to Christ as his model of leadership. He treats all members with dignity and respect. He does not bark out orders like a drill sergeant or keep everyone in line through intimidation. Instead he gently leads, protects and insures the spiritual well-being of the family. He also sacrifices his own rights and comforts for the sake of the family. He, through God’s grace, seeks to shape his family into a godly home. He exercises patience when members fail, knowing that he himself needs patience due to his own failings.

The term “gentle” does not refer to an effeminate approach to life; it takes us back to Christ’s own dealings with His disciples. He taught them, and modeled His own teachings. He bore up with their failings by both encouraging and teaching them. He applied needed discipline and kept them from straying too far. Moreover, He left the glories of heaven in order to rescue people from the tyranny of sin. Paul commanded us to arm ourselves with that sort of mind (Philippians 2:5-8). Fathers need to follow Christ’s lead of sacrifice and care.

If we do not make efforts to change, we will default to the worldly model of fatherhood. We will seek our own comfort, and expect others to serve us. But they will lack the incentive to serve because they do not see it modeled before their eyes. We need to follow our Lord’s lead. Though He was not married and fathered no children, Jesus Christ serves as the greatest role model that ever walked the earth. He gently led His disciples in the right way. God used those very disciples to shake the world for Jesus. Stay close to God and study closely the life of Christ. You, too, will make a mighty impact in the lives of those in your care.

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