(2:7-12) 3 ROLE MODELS OF UNSELFISH SERVANT LOVE THAT PICTURE PROPER CONDUCT IN THE MINISTRY
Father’s Day comes early for us. We already had our Mother’s Day message … now Paul is going to point to the analogy of a father’s role to teach us more about the Integrity of Spiritual Leadership. How can you distinguish faithful leaders from the charlatans or even from the ineffective? How did the unselfish servant love of a father play itself out in the conduct of the missionary team at Thessalonica?
TODAY: Final Role Model: Change the order up today: Model – including a look at some wrong models / Main Mission / Motivation
III. (:10-12) FATHER – GODLY EXAMPLE AND DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING OF A FATHER WITH VISION
A. Model: Godly Conduct – Godly Example
“You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers.”
1. Transparent Testimony – the Accountability and Integrity of the Model
“You are witnesses, and so is God”
2. Irreproachable Integrity
a. Devoutly – Passionately pursuing God
b. Uprightly – Doing the right thing in relationship to the new converts
c. Blamelessly – None of the charges of Paul’s accusers could stick
MacArthur: A father’s responsibility is to set the standard of integrity in the family. That’s a spiritual leader’s responsibility. . .
before God devout, before God and man upright, before man blameless. That’s a spiritual father. That’s how we behave toward you believers.
3. Directed Discipleship – Faith Focused – Effective Example
“we behaved toward you believers”
Missionary team were all excellent role models for these new believers; not just in their preaching but in their practice of the truth
Wrong Models of Shepherding like a Father
1. Abusive Father – some pastors can be abusive – Exploited sheep
a. Physically abusive – look at Roman Catholic priests and problems of child abuse — shocking
b. Emotionally abusive – more common – how you treat people
c. Financially abusive – Remember Paul’s example – Acts 20:33-35
Luke 11:11 [context of father desiring to answer prayer and give good gifts]
“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
Instead: sacrifice yourself for the good of the flock; more interested in giving than Receiving
2. Authoritarian Father – too domineering, too controlling – Exasperated Sheep – Very common
Not recognizing that his mission is to guide his child towards independence and maturity
Talked a lot about this danger already
Ephes 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Instead: exercise leadership from a loving, servant heart
3. Administrative Father – tries to delegate all of his nurturing responsibilities –
Exhausted Sheep — Herded Sheep – Manipulated Sheep
Doesn’t want to be bothered with the details of shepherding; leaves that to others;
Like a business CEO – we admire many churches that model this
Everything built around time management principles and a schedule – depending on how important you are, determines how much face time you get with the pastor
Lots of programs; pushing sheep into ministry slots; but no intimate relationship;
Unrealistic expectations – pushing the sheep, whipping them
Psalms 103:13-14 “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
Instead: roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with hands-on shepherding; sharing your life with your disciples
4. Absentee Father – neglectful, no quality time or personal investment in the child –
Or an Indulgent Father – just let the children alone; let them do whatever they want;
Excluded Sheep – Exiled Sheep — Abandoned Sheep – Ignored Sheep
Consumed by other priorities – work, pleasure, traveling, etc.
Maybe actually ran off and disappeared
1 Kings 1:6 (Living Bible) “Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him [Adonijah] at any time – not so much as by a single scolding!”
Instead: spend both quantity and quality time with your growing believers – both public and private ministry; both group settings and one-on-one training
B. Main Mission: Discipleship Training – Positive, Encouraging, Directive —
1. Three Descriptions with a Common Focus = Exhorting, Encouraging, Imploring
(Types of Appeals)
“just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring”
All Present tense – ongoing, continuous effort needed and applied
Not something done remotely or impersonally; para – with, alongside
Not trying to parse these out as 3 different activities – synonyms to convey the force of the discipling activity – involves personal concern and emotion – not just an academic lecture
a. Exhorting – directed towards following the proper course of action
urge one to pursue some course of action; forward looking
parakaleo cf. 2:3 “our exhortation” – bringing Word of God to bear on the situation
b. Encouraging – directed towards perseverance
compound: with + counsel, advice
c. Imploring / Demanding / Charging
Keathley: It means “summon to witness,” “to bear witness,” and then “to solemnly charge, adjure, beseech.” In view of the aim stated in verse 12, the emphasis here is on a solemn charge though it could also contain an element of personal witness as a motive for following the charge. This word has more of an authoritative emphasis than the two preceding words.
Drew Worthen: All three words denote a more forceful approach in directing them God-ward. F.F. Bruce say’s, “this verb has lost its original force of invoking witnesses. It has a more authoritative nuance than the two preceding verbs.” This is why Vincent say’s, “The verb means to conjure or appeal to by something sacred.”
2. Two Fundamental Approaches = Impartiality and Loving, Personal Attention
“each one of you as a father would his own children”
a. Impartiality – No Favoritism
b. Loving, Personal Attention
C. Motivation: Goal Oriented — Mature Converts who would please God = His overriding Ambition and Vision
“so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
Father should have a vision for what type of conduct and future he has in mind for his children. As they mature, what is the standard they need to measure up to?
Cf. royalty – They king expects his young prince to act in a manner worthy of the royal family – not to disappoint or embarrass
We certainly do not want to be a poor testimony or an embarrassment as a Christian
Important that the Father can visualize the end product he is shooting for in his children – what should maturity look like? Talking about Christlikeness;
We have received an extremely high calling – one of privilege and great expectation …. We in no way measure up on our own; but by the grace of God we can walk by faith; we can be filled with the Holy Spirit and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit which is Christlikeness …
We are destined to be co-heirs with Christ, members of the royal family, reigning with Him in glory … this is our calling …. How are we measuring up?
“walk worthy” –
Col. 1:10 “of the Lord”
Eph. 4:1 “of the calling with which you were called”
Eph. 1:27 “of the gospel”
Keathley: We have been qualified to be a part of His kingdom by grace through the finished work of the Savior. However, we can walk and conduct ourselves in a way that will honor Him and that is in keeping with His character and purposes.
“Who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” expresses the reason and motive.
“Who calls you” is a present tense. Not Who has called you, but Who calls you. It points to a continuous work of God through the ministry of the church using the Word and walking by the Spirit. God, who had called them to salvation, a finished transaction (cf. 2 Thess. 2:13-14), is still calling believers to His kingdom and glory, i.e., to a continued pursuit of a life of obedience and holiness under the rule of God, one that will result in rewards in the kingdom and glory. Entrance into heaven is assured, but rewards and position there are the result of faithful living (2 Tim. 2:11-13; 2 Pet. 1:9-11).
Finally, note the phrase, “His own kingdom and glory.” This strongly reminds us that there are other kingdoms and other kinds of glory that are competing for our allegiance and that of our spiritual children. So we must not only be alert to these false influences but take precautions to guard against their influences on our spiritual children in Christ. . .
If we are not faithful we will find ourselves pampering mothers or absentee fathers who wonder why our babes in Christ never grew up but instead became prodigal children in pursuit of the world rather than God’s kingdom and glory.
Review: Having worked our way through the text, let’s try to summarize what we have learned about the leadership role of a father as it pertains to the overall Discipling Process –
4 Key Responsibilities of the Father in the Disciplining Process:
1. Provides Direction / leadership / headship / vision – Where are we headed?
Just talked about the Vision of a Father; Son will pattern his conduct after the example of his father – John 5:19 – true of Christ – “the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner”
2. Provides Doctrine / Instruction / Teaching – What is the plan to get there?
Cannot delegate all of this to the Mother or to outside teachers – like Sunday School and youth groups; must take the responsibility himself; exhorting, encouraging, imploring –
Teaching, reinforcing, reminding and teaching again – but all the time modeling the same truths … more is caught than taught
3. Provides Discipline / Correction / Nurturing – How do we stay on track or recover?
Tough Love; requires making tough decisions and sticking to them; setting the boundaries and the penalties and consequences for crossing those boundaries; mother will tenderly tend to cut the child some slack; the father needs to provide the sternness that makes the child take sin seriously; that develops the sense of the fear of the Lord in the child
Cf. example of the Prodigal Son – the Discipling Father – how could he let his son go off like that? Longing to welcome him back on to the path of righteousness
4. Provides Distinction – What is special about this child; what commends this child? What does the Father think of our progress?
Father commends Christ at baptism: Matt. 3:17 “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased”
At Transfiguration Matt. 17:5
Speaks audibly one more time as Christ prepares to go to the Cross – John 12:28 “I have both glorified it [the Father’s name] and will glorify it again”
The Apostle Paul wanted the disciples at Thessalonica to look back at the church planting team and notice that Paul and his missionary team faithfully modeled this type of leadership profile in their labor of fatherly love throughout the discipleship process
Role of a father never ends – even when your children move out – you still continue in that relationship of caring for them
George Strait: Love Without End –
And he said, “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us.”
He said, “Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then.
It’s a love without end, amen, it’s a love without end, amen.”
A father might be called on to make some tough decisions regarding discipline … but he always has in view the end result of the discipling process.
Integrity in the ministry is essential to protect the integrity of our message. These 3 role models should characterize our conduct – nursing mothers, hard workers and godly fathers – Paul was able to motivate Christian conduct not by means of his authority but by means of his relationship to his young disciples – he genuinely and personally cared for each one of them and they knew that and responded to his exhortations