I just spent a week with a new mother who is breastfeeding. The mother-child bond is a beautiful thing to see. In a similar way that moms are entrusted with a child, ministry women have a responsibility toward the children of God. Both roles require self-sacrifice, endurance, focus and patience. The goal is ultimately the same...to please God.
Ministry is not an easy task. In I Thessalonians 2, Paul talks about hardships he endured for the sake of the Gospel. Plus, verses 4 to 6 mention some of the temptations that could get in the way of ministry. Pleasing others. Resorting to flattery. Being greedy. Making demands.
Then in verse 7, Paul points out a good example of active love. "But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her children." I know what he is talking about in a biological sense, and I want to have that gentle spirit with the spiritual children in my church's care, especially when they are newborn in the Lord.
Verse 8 gives me more ideas of what my relationship with people in the church should look like. I long to have an affectionate desire for them. This tells me that I should have a special place in my heart for those in the congregation.
For people without Christ, I pray that I might overcome my reticence to share the Gospel. It is a very loving thing to warn others of what happens to those who do not repent. And, as one who "keeps herself to herself," I see that I need to make progress in being willing to share myself with others.
Most new moms love their children. Most pastors' wives in a new church have the beginnings of affection for the people. However, it takes an experienced mom or ministry woman to know that, with God's help, the love will grow much deeper over time. In my experience, I see my love for God's people maturing as I mature in my faith. I can say about many, as Paul says in this passage about those he brought the Gospel to, "you had become very dear to us."
I encourage you to pursue this gentle, active love. It requires hard work and resisting temptation. But, in the end, this deep bond with spiritual children pleases God. That is worth the sacrifice.