Do you have a father? 1st Corinthians 4:15
Over the last 20 years, I have seen an incredible increase in church planting and the birth of personal ministries. I endorse this move because with 8 Billion people on the face of the earth, we need more labourers in God’s vineyard( Matthew 9:38). However, one of my greatest concerns about this surge in the birthing of ministries and church planting, is in relation to accountability; spiritual parenting.
For many, the experience of having spiritual leaders over their ministry has been a tremendous experience and for some, the experience has been extremely painful. However, despite the negative experiences, we should not dismiss the biblical premise of accountability and ‘fatherhood’. But what is true fatherhood?
Fatherhood is not about lording over individuals,neither is it an opportunity to exploit a person’s subservient attitude. Some of the signs of fatherhood are:
1. True paternal care. 1st Cor 4:14. We all need leaders who can provide genuine care and concern for our well-being. This ‘care’ creates an environment of growth and trust. A father should not be threatened by the growth of their children and a child should not seek to compete with their father.
2. Paternal wisdom. 1st Cor 4:17. We all need guidance regarding the scriptures and a reminder of the principles of mnistry. The experience of a father is invaluable and can prevent you from walking into uneccessary events.
3. Paternal mentoring. 1st Cor 4:16. We all need good role models in our lives; leaders that we can follow and imitate in terms of godly character and conduct. Being in ministry can be challenging and when you have a developing vision, it is important to have the support of a mentor.
4. Paternal discipline. 1st Cor 4:21. We all need to be corrected at some point in our lives. It is impossible to mature in ministry without correction. Discipline from a father is redemptive in nature, in that the purpose is to bring you into something greater that what you are currently in.
5. Paternal love. We all need to be loved unconditionally even when our behaviour may not be lovable. A true father makes distinction between the person and the behaviour of the person. 1st Cor 4:18
During the Lord’s physical ministry on earth, He regularly referred to His heavenly Father. Some scholars have suggested that Jesus refered to His father over one hundred and fifty times in the scriptures. Was this purely a co-incidence or was this a pattern of true ministry? The Bible exhorts every Christian to be ‘Christ-like’ and put on the ‘mind of Christ’. Therefore, there is a distinct way of thinking regarding fatherhood that everyone Christain should adopt. The Apostle Paul reminded the believers at Corinth that they had many instructors; people who had earthly wisdom and who could provide guidance but not many fathers. Paul was ascerting, that his role was more than one of guidance but one of continual nurturing.
As you are reading this article, perhaps who have been hurt by a leader or perhaps as a leader you have been hurt by your spiritual children. I encourage you to pray for healing, strength and wisdom. I believe that the Lord desires to connect children to their true fathers and fathers to their true children.
YCF Senior Pastor