“I’m not writing all this as a neighbourhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I’m writing as a father to you, my children”.
1 Cor 4:14 EHP
It is never easy to discipline adult people, even when you are an appointed leader. Whilst some strong and overbearing personalities might take it in their stride, others will try to be careful not to offend.
However Paul had been somewhat heavy-handed in chiding the believers in the Corinthian church over their pride and their problems. He had also verged on sarcasm, and in some of his comments sounded like a schoolmaster “ticking off” his students. But he knew he had to show love, and having spoken strongly he now assures them that he sees himself as a father in God to them. His intention was never to scold them, but to make them aware of their need to grow in grace and to mature in their Christian faith. So he now strikes a warmer and friendlier chord. The human father has sometimes to correct the child, but always it is done for the child’s benefit. Paul swiftly changes into a relationship approach. He wants the people to respond positively and not to be repulsed by his strong words.
Sometimes pastors do need to correct the wrong direction or immature behaviour of their communities. They have to throw aside the popular, pleasant, “all things to all people” approach and bring their people – or groups within their community – to see that they need to change and move forward. A good Christian leader will see himself as his people’s father in God and not a spiritual policeman. A true father in God will have the strength and courage to speak the truth in love.
Lord, help our pastor to be a true father in God to us.