It's snowing today and so I will be indoors all day, examining some of the most important textual variants in the New Testament, including this one in 1 Thess. 2:7.
The question is, did Paul write "gentle" or "babies"? However, what started out as a study in textual criticism quickly morphed into something perhaps much more important. For as I pondered Paul's words, I was struck by his use of the metaphors "mother" and "father" to describe his work among the Thessalonians. Since I too am a teacher, I think his point is very well taken. As a mother and father to our students, we are to be gentle, affectionate, encouraging, and nurturing. As Paul writes (verse 8), "We loved you so much that we were delighted to impart to you not only the gospel of God but ourselves as well, because you had become so dear to us." The Bible tells us that, as teachers, this is how we are to be regarded by our pupils. Do we truly love them? They know whether we do or not. You cannot fake love.
Without love, trust erodes.
Without love, respect withers away.
Without love, I am ultimately a failure as a teacher.
Teacher friend, do your students know you love them? Pastor friend, do your people know you love them?
In the 19th century, a Scottish pastor wrote these words:
When I was first settled in a church, I discovered a thing which nobody had told me and which I had not anticipated. I fell in love with my congregation. I do not know how otherwise to express it. It was as genuine a blossoming of the heart as any which I've ever experienced. And it made it easy for me to do anything for my people.
As with the church, so with the seminary. Our classrooms should never be places where love is absent. Let's remember that, fellow teachers, when we return to campus tomorrow.