This blog is dedicated to all the dads who need encouragement along the journey of fatherhood.
“With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.”
1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 MSG
I love how Paul uses the analogy of a “father with his child” to describe his ministry to the Thessalonians. As Father’s Day approaches, these verses serve as encouraging reminders that fatherhood is both a high calling as well as an opportunity to minister everlasting life into a child’s soul.
Paul points out three specific actions of a godly father. First, holding your hand, second, whispering encouragement, and lastly, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God. Perhaps the order of these actions is no coincidence.
In the early years of a child’s life, they need the physical touch, affection, and protection that a father’s hand provides. The warmth and security of a parent or guardian’s physical touch paves the way for God’s love to one day penetrate a child’s heart. Children need and crave the physical touch of a father.
Later on, as the child enters into adolescence, they need less of the physical and more of the affirmative in the form of “whispers of encouragement”. If you’ve ever raised a middle schooler, you know their worst fear is parental embarrassment! So fathers, learn the power of the whisper in the sacred spaces of your own home, car, or office. Trust that whispers of encouragement become magnified in a child’s heart in the moments they need it most. No embarrassment needed, just echos of “l believe in you”, “You are loved”, “You are valued”.
Lastly, from the absent-minded teenage years into young adulthood, children need step-by-step instruction on how to live well before God, especially from their fathers. They need to walk and work and play alongside their fathers absorbing wisdom, procuring truth, and memorizing the do’s and don’ts of adulthood. They need time and space to “practice” what they’ve felt, heard and seen you live out as a dad.
In the ESV, Paul uses the words “exhort, encourage, and charge“. We all have different parenting styles, so perhaps these words speak more toward your style. Nevertheless, the message is the same. Children needs fathers and father figures to speak life into their souls through physical touch, words of affirmation, and role modeling real life with Jesus at the center.
Just as our Heavenly Father “calls us into His own kingdom and glory”, fathers can minister to their own children with open arms, loving and affirming hearts while in the midst of the realities of life by heeding Paul’s example.
Fatherhood is ministry, a high and holy calling. God Bless you, fathers!