1 Thessalonians 2:11
Paul compares his relationship to those he preaches to as that of a father-figure. He lists three ways he watched over his brethren. These are things that I take to heart as a preacher of the Gospel.
I hope I can fulfill Paul’s words. What exactly did he do for the brethren? Three things…
He exhorted them. Like all good parents, Paul lifted his brethren up. The word for “exhort” means literally “to call to one’s side.” It is an inviting word, as—in this illustration—the dad calls his son over to stand beside him. He’s not angry, he’s inviting. He speaks with tenderness and affection. He wants to build his son up and give him positive reinforcement. This is what Paul says he did with his brethren.
He comforted them. Occasionally, like all children do, brethren stumble and fall. When children falter they sometimes need a stern rebuke and sometimes they need a loving hand. A parent must be wise to know what the child needs and when. Paul understood when his brethren needed words of comfort and he provided them.
He charged them. Also like all good parents, Paul challenged his brethren. He pushed them to be greater. He directed them do more, go farther and reach for the stars. He helped them set high goals and then helped them meet them. He never let them settle for spiritual complacency, but instead taught his brethren how to give God the most they have to give.
As a preacher I am constantly thinking about how I present my sermons. I hope I use my time in the pulpit to exhort, comfort and charge those listening to me, so that we can all be stronger Christians in the future than we have been in the past.