1 Corinthians 4:14–16 (KJV 1900)
14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. 15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
Paul’s intention was never to shame his spiritual children, and that should never be the intention of any pastor. Instead, as his sons, he was eager to warn them.
Paul contrasts two groups of men, instructors, and fathers. A benefit of the Corinthian church is they had many instructors, Apollos and Cephas being two of them mentioned. The way the word instructor is used here is like a tutor or a supervisor of boys until they reach manhood. Among the Greeks and Romans, boys had instructors who would guide them in morals. This church was blessed to have many.
But what was even more of a blessing is they didn’t have many fathers, they only had one, Paul. And in Jesus Christ, Paul birthed this church through (only) the gospel. He was their pure father in the faith, and Paul’s faith rested solely on Christ and him alone. Paul, as their father, was determined not to know anything among them, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. It is in that sense that Paul tells them to be his followers–follow me in Christ!