Spiritual Fathers

“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers.” - 1 Corinthians 4:15

This is Paul writing to a young church who’s struggling to walk in the ways of Jesus. He is not hesitant to address their shortcomings throughout the letter, but he does it so clearly in love, calling them his children and building them up as a father would his son.

Guides are great. They are informative and usually very engaging. They can present information about where to go and tips and tricks along the way. I think of a tour guide in this respect.

The original word used refers more specifically to an instructor or someone that a family would hire to take care of the children and teach them good morals. While they were entrusted with a great responsibility, they still ranked below the parents.
But a father doesn’t simply fill you up with information or watch to keep you out of trouble. A father imparts wisdom, and teaches life lessons. He is full of love and compassion. He knows you by name and loves you despite your deepest flaws.

Of course our Heavenly Father fulfills this role completely and perfectly. And while we wait to be reunited with Him fully, He has appointed some of us to be spiritual fathers (and mothers) to His children.

That means we have to go beyond the small talk on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. If you are to be a spiritual father to someone, you've got to do life with them. It's not just about meeting up every once in a while to talk at them for an hour. It's about getting to know their heart and the gifts and callings the Lord has placed on their life, and prayerfully leading them back to Christ on a daily basis.

I think the culture of the Church would make a shift for the better if more of us operated as spiritual fathers and mothers, and submitted to our spiritual fathers and mothers.
Who is your spiritual father? To whom can you be a spiritual father?
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