Every pastor should be a father. Every pastor should have sons.
I’m not talking about biological children, but spiritual ones. A pastor is a father in God’s household, the church. Of course, the norm for pastors is that they do have biological (or adopted) children; that’s the basis for judging their suitability for leading the church:
He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?) (1 Timothy 3:4, 5).
But there are examples from Scripture and history of good and godly pastors who were single or childless. But like the apostle Paul, they still had children. They were still fathers.
For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15).
If you are not a father “through the gospel,” then you do not belong in pastoral ministry. It is of the essence of your calling to have spiritual children. You are not a businessman or a counselor or a public speaker. You are a father.
Titus was Paul’s “true child in a common faith.” It’s likely that Titus was converted under Paul’s preaching and witness. Do you have children in a common faith? Children who have God as their Father because of your faithfulness?
But there was another man that Paul called a son. This man was not converted under Paul’s ministry, but Paul was certainly his father. That man was Timothy.
To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (2 Timothy 1:2).
Timothy was not a fruit of Paul’s evangelistic work. He was already a disciple when Paul first met him (Acts 16:1). Timothy learned the wisdom that leads to salvation on his mother’s and grandmother’s knees (2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15). And yet, Paul was his father, Timothy his beloved son.
Paul took Timothy under his wing. He taught him how to be a shepherd, how to preach, how to lead God’s people. Paul was his teacher, his mentor, his father. This is especially sweet when we remember that Timothy’s earthly father was not a believer (Acts 16:1). Timothy needed a spiritual father—not to beget him, but to raise him up to be a man of God.
Pastor, do you have this sort of spiritual sons? Younger men who look to you for counsel, rebuke, advice? Men whom you have trained up for the work of the ministry?
Our world is filled with fatherless men. Their fathers were either absent or unbelieving, yet God is calling them to be fathers themselves—at home, in the church, and in the city. They need you.
There is nothing sweeter than to look back on your life and to see the fruit borne by your sons. Be sure that when you grow old, you have many of them.