For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
Paul loved the church at Thessalonica and they were, it seems, drifting from recognising his authority among them. This grieved Paul deeply and he sort to win them back by reminding them of the nature of he and his team's ministry among them. It is here that he reaches for the rich image of fatherhood. He says- his ministry to them was reflective of the way in which a father deals with his children. Of course- in reaching for this imagery he is reaching for the best versions of such a relationship and thankfully he gives us a picture of what "the best versions" might look like. So what did it look like? Well- his ministry and by implication, his ideal picture of fatherhood, was a relationship that consisted of encouragement, comforting and urging ones children to live lives worthy of God. This for Paul is the "mission of fatherhood".
Jacques talked about remodelling our marriages by embracing the mindset of Christ from Philippians last week. Paul likewise here is, by implication wanting to remodel fatherhood/ministry and in doing so he articulates the goal- "a life worthy of God", and something of the pathway to that goal; encouragement, comfort, and urging. Many Christian parents prepare their children for many worthy things in life; things like the workforce, a place at university, for friendships- but our "chief task" as fathers is surely discipleship. We are called to pastor our children and help to live lives worthy of God.
May God grant you grace to encourage, comfort and urge your children to live lives worthy of the Lord- this after all is God's will for you.
Grace and peace from Marcus