THE IMORTANT MINISTRY OF FATHERING.
In Australia we celebrate (for some reason) “Father’s Day” on the first Sunday in September, unlike most of the rest of the world, so for me, this past Sunday was extra special. The subject of “fathering” is an interesting topic, as there is no prior training for fatherhood, it is all “on the job training”, or there may be some observation as we are growing up as we remember how our father raised us. I heard a father say recently, his personal experience growing up and observing his father, it was all about how NOT to raise a child. I wrote a brief post on FB saying how proud I was being a father to 2 wonderful sons.
I am the product of alcoholic parents so I sure didn’t have a role model to learn from. I am of the generation where spankings and discipline were very important, I sure disciplined my sons, after I spanked them I prayed for them, and got them to pray too, and they sure knew I loved them. They also attended Christian schools where they learnt the importance of discipline and the role of parents. They both came to Christ at an early age and have continually followed the Lord and grown in grace through the years, for which we are ever thankful to the Lord, There are no 3 fool proof keys to raising children, and I do not criticise any of our friends who have had difficulties with their children.
Inn my FB post I mentioned I had many spiritual sons around the world, what a privilege has been mine, to not only have ministered and taught in over 25 countries but have also had hundreds of students attend the Colleges where I taught full time in Australia and Singapore for 19 years.
Asians (for example) have a built in beautiful aspect in their culture (that I love) THEY RESPECT THE OLDER PERSON (particularly if there is grey hair on the persons head). So I have literally without exaggeration hundreds of students who call me “daddy” or “grandpa” or “uncle” and although they never specifically asked me consider me their “spiritual father”they consider I am. There are also many who have asked me, and we have a beautiful relationship. I prefer the relationship which is close and not “arms length” but one cannot force or create such a relationship unless both parties understand that and want it. FATHERING IS ALL BASED ON RELATIONSHIP.
Paul makes a very sad statement in 1 Cor. 4:15 NKJV For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many FATHERS; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. The MESSAGE Bible expresses it this way “There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many FATHERS willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father”.
Why are there so few “Fathers” ?
Is it because so few men come to spiritual maturity ?
Is it because most men have never had a “spiritual father”?
Is it because most men do not want to take responsibility for this?
So do not know how to do it or are scared to do it?
I sure didn’t have a good natural father, and I have had to go out and seek a “spiritual father” and there have been a number of men over the years who have fulfilled that role (most have now been promoted to glory sadly).
In my recent blogs about “building the local church according to the pattern” I listed some 13 keys that I believe are essential to build a local church. Not only do we need the ministry impact of the fold ministry gifts (Eph. 4:11) Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors & Teachers) every local church needs SPIRITUAL FATHERS. This ministry is not in the same category of the fivefold ministries, but I believe is a God given gift to many men in every local church that needs to be developed and encouraged.
When someone is born again,firstly, the new Believer needs to be Biblically Discipled (Matt. 28:18-20) then there is “transition” to Mentoring, where the Mentor assists the person to discover his ministry, I think “fathering” seems to be overlooked so often (when there has been Discipling and Mentoring), Mentors more encouraging more public ministries.
As a young Pastor I knew that God had placed in me “something” to want to see young men come to maturity and not only find their more public ministry but to learn how to be a spiritual father. It took quite a few years for this understanding to increase and as far as I am concerned for me now it is the most important ministry I could contemplate.
Like every aspect of truth “FATHERING” must be kept in balance, we must recognise the dangers of control and manipulation, and not only give guidance, but seek to encourage and release the son to step out in faith more and more, but always be accountable as well.
Again in the Asian context there is something built in to Asian culture that comes from the pit of hell, it is called “losing face” so a person, will sidestep many situations even tell lies to not face up to a situation, so a spiritual father who has a genuine relationship with his spiritual son will have to learn to ask the hard questions, Paul sure did this with the churches he related too and the young men like Timothy and Titus. We are a doing a dis-service if we do not have the courage to ask the hard questions.
I pray that God will raise up MANY FATHERS (and spiritual mothers) in every local church to see our young people move forward in holiness and victory and purity and fulfil their God given ministry Amen.