1 Thessalonians 2:6-12 (NIV)
6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, 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.10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
Paul was a great missionary, spreading the gospel of Jesus wherever he went. I never thought of him as a parent, but it’s interesting that in this passage, he describes himself as a mother and a father to the followers in the Church. Paul also faced strong opposition as he shares how he suffered and was mis-treated in Philippi. As he writes this letter, he reflects on how he treated the people and the Church in Thessalonica. This is in stark contrast when he did not have the Holy Spirit and he was a prosecutor of the Church. He could have used his authority as a leader in the Church, but instead he was like young children among the people. Young children are more humble then adults.
He goes on to describe the care he has just as a nursing mother cares for her children. He loved them so much that he not only shared the gospel of God, but he also shared his life as well. He was vulnerable; he worked hard night and day so that he would not need to be supported by the people there. Not only was he like a caring mother, the last part describes a father’s role; encouraging, comforting and urging them to live lives worth of God. Paul’s love for people reflects the positive characteristics of a caring mother and an encouraging and comforting father. This is a great lesson from Paul as he imitates the life of Jesus.