Paul, in his greeting to the Thessalonians, highlights their “labor of love” (1Thes. 1:2) toward others and identifies that it flows from being imitators of us and of the Lord (1:6). How did Paul characterize his labor of love that he both modeled and set the standard for the Thessalonians? Parenting.
- (2:7) We proved to be gentle among you. As a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children
- (2:11) We were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one as a father would his own children
Labor is the Price
Anyone who has kids knows, parenting is hard work! Giving birth is called “labor” for a reason, and Paul uses that imagery to describe launching the process (I am…in labor until Christ is formed in you Gal. 4:19). But that is just the beginning. Producing good kids is a tough, long-term commitment that involves ongoing labor and hardship (2:9). The end game is that your spiritual children, “would walk in a manner worthy of…God” (2:12). “Walk” means a permanent lifestyle of obedience including reproducing a new generation who also “walk in a manner worthy of…God” (2:12).
Love is the Motivation
Why go through all this? Parental love can do no less. As Paul said to the Thessalonians, “We had a fond affection for you and were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but also our own lives because you had become very dear to us (2:8). Who is our hope, or joy or crown of pride…you are our glory and joy (2:19-20). Sounds like a proud papa to me.
There are 3 subpar motivations in ministry:
- Duty – Acting out of obligation
- Reward – Acting to get a benefit
- Fear – Acting to avoid punishment
Parental “labor of love” is a concept within DMM specifically because the centerpiece of DMM is all about a chain reaction where good Fathers/Mothers make good Sons/Daughters who become good Fathers/Mothers.
None of the subpar motivations are sufficient to pay the price or go the distance to get this job done. Only love will do.