Like a Nursing Mother

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

CEO, reverend, visionary leader, doctor, and, of course, bishop or archbishop—even in the church, we frequently use titles to stress authority and distinction from others. Jesus, on the other hand, warned us against all the fancy titles, challenging us that if we want to be great in his Kingdom a good title to take is “servant of all.”

Now in the first century the title, “apostle,” did mean power. In fact, when the Apostle Peter exposed Ananias and Sapphira’s lie in the beginning period of the church, they dropped over dead (Acts 5:10). The Apostle Paul possessed this same kind of divine authority. Though he preferred to exhort the rebellious Corinthians as their spiritual father, he warned them that he could come with a deadly discipline from the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:18-21, 2 Corinthians 10: 6-11, Galatians 1:1, 15-17). But Paul usually chose to lay aside his personal authority and serve his spiritual children with tenderness and warm personal connection.

“Of course, as Christ’s apostles, we could have claimed a position of importance when we were with you,  but instead, we became like babies in your midst, like nursing mothers caring for their own children. We did this because we longed for relationship with you; for we determined not only to share God’s Good News, but also our very souls because we came to love you so much.”   1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Periodically, our culture frantically debates again about where and when a nursing mother should feed her baby. Instead of a debate, the Apostle Paul remembered the gentle, nourishing, pure picture as a mom nursed her baby. He not only remembered what Jesus said about us all becoming like little children if we are going to be part of his kingdom, he also mixed his metaphors and also pictured each of the members of his missionary team as “nursing mothers” when it came to spiritually feeding the new Thessalonian believers.

LORD, help me not to believe the lie that influential leaders need to keep themselves distant and impersonal in order to maintain influence over people. Thanks that you model a leadership that changes lives by authentic, gracious, nurturing sharing of life and word. 

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