A viral video of a mama bear trying to get her four energetic little cubs across a busy street brought a knowing smile to my face. It was delightfully relatable to watch her pick up her cubs one-by-one and carry them across the road—only to have the cubs wander back to the other side. After many seemingly frustrating attempts, the mama bear finally corralled all four of her cubs, and they made it safely across the road.
The tireless work of parenting symbolized in the video matches imagery used by Paul to describe his care for the people in the church of Thessalonica. Instead of emphasizing his authority, the apostle compared his work among them to a mother and father caring for young children (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 11). It was deep love for the Thessalonians (v. 8) that motivated Paul’s ongoing efforts to encourage, comfort, and urge them “to live lives worthy of God” (v. 12). This impassioned call to godly living was borne out of his loving desire to see them honor God in all areas of their lives.
Paul’s example can serve as a guide for us in all our leadership opportunities—especially when the responsibilities make us weary. Empowered by God’s Spirit, we can gently and persistently love those under our care as we encourage and guide them toward Jesus.