. . . but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.
(1 Thessalonians 2:7 NIV)
There is a code of conduct attached to the ministry used to gauge the significance and authenticity of ministry. Paul describes this gauge through a feminine metaphor, the image of a child at the breast of her mother. The same care and tenderness that she gives her little ones is the same gentleness that we should give to one another in the family of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is saying that this is the manner in which they came—to give life, strength, hope, and encouragement.