“For we 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.”
We live in a world where the role of fathers is largely misunderstood. Men are often mischaracterized, diminished, or told they are only power hungry rulers with no care for how they influence the lives of other people. Even just recently I heard a woman say that no man should have the ability to name their children, because they didn’t hold the baby for nine months. But the role of a father is crucial. In fact, while I would say that mothers may be the most influential people in a child’s life, a father may be the most important for leadership, being a role model, and teaching. Without a father, young men seem to drift around the world searching for a leader to follow, wondering where theirs went or silently wishing their father would be a stronger man that they could look up to. Fathers provide the stable rock that children look to as security, strength, and guidance, and while mothers bring this as well, it fills different needs for kids. In my opinion, this is why so many people look back on their lives and say things like, “I want to be like my dad” instead of saying that about their mother, who they may even be closer to as friends. Dads have that effect of being the man, which means the lack of their masculinity leads to lost children, and the strength of their masculinity leads to well taught, encouraged children.
Fathers fulfill many roles, but Paul says here that his ministry was shaped by the way that fathers should lead their household: encouraging, comforting, and urging. As Christians that means we are to lead our children in the way that God intended, following his commands and lifestyle. But even for the common man, these are desirable attributes that men often try to display when guiding their children. In these days, we achieve being encouraging and comforting well, perhaps because of previous generations were many fathers lacked these traits completely. We always try to lift kids up, affirm them in their identity, and tell them what they are doing well. These are good actions — but they are not enough. It is far too focused on encouraging without another necessary piece of fatherhood, which is described in this passage as urging. It means leading, guiding, and pushing our children towards being better people. We are to urge our children to improve and learn the characteristics that we believe are most essential to becoming a man — traits like respect, honor, patience, kindness, wisdom, and much more. Men are to urge other men, in a direct and powerful manner, to grow up as men. Along with this, we should also encourage, comfort, and help our children to be who they are designed to be, not refraining from being a kind hand and a loving presence. Fathers are crucial, and while none of them are perfect, their role on the earth should not be undervalued, but understood.
*Verse from 1 Thessalonians 2:11–12