While Luther was referring to the heart of a pastor, I think we can more broadly apply this principle of gentleness to all Christians who minister the gospel.
“Luther compared the shepherding relationship to the radical caring of a loving mother for her child, a care that is willing to take risks:
Unless your heart toward the sheep is like that of a mother toward her children—a mother, who walks through fire to save her children— you will not be fit to be a preacher.
Relational trust grows slowly through manifold seasons of caring, not immediately or absolutely. Once again, Luther turned to a feminine metaphor of care-giving:
How does a mother nourish her child? First, she feeds it with milk, then gruel, then eggs and soft food. If she weaned it and at once gave it the ordinary, coarse food, the child would never thrive. So we should also deal with our brother, have patience with him for a time, suffer his weakness and help him bear it; we should give him milk-food, too, as was done with us, until he like-wise grows strong.(Luther, “Eight Wittenberg Sermons,” First Sermon, WML II, p. 393)”
Thomas C. Oden, Pastoral Counsel, Classic Pastoral Care, 77 (New York: Crossroad, 1989).