For although you could have countless babysitters in Christ telling you what you’re doing wrong, you don’t have many fathers who correct you in love. But I’m a true father to you, for I became your father when I gave you the gospel and brought you into union with Jesus, the Anointed One. So I encourage you, my children, to follow the example that I live before you. 1 Cor. 4:15, 16 TPT
For even if you were to have ten thousand teachers [to guide you] in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers [who led you to Christ and assumed responsibility for you], for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the good news [of salvation]. So I urge you, be imitators of me [just as a child imitates his father]. 1 Cor. 4:15, 16 AMP
A couple of weeks ago I woke up with a sudden and uncharacteristic homesickness for New Zealand…uncharacteristic because I don’t often feel homesick for anyone or any place. When you travel as much as I do, meeting lovely people everywhere and having to say goodbyes more often than you care to, you learn to love where you are at, to make the most of time with people and to let go when you have to move on. But on this day I longed to just sit with a very precious and deeply appreciated spiritual mother who lives there and I recalled many profound conversations we had. I had hoped to see her this year, but Covid 19 clipped my wings, as it did many others’.
As I prayerfully meditated on these emotions, Holy Spirit reminded me of the verses I quoted at the start. He started to impress upon my heart that there are many spiritual children longing for mothers and fathers to arise and give them shelter under their wings. Many of these ones have a longing that they cannot even express in words, they hold their breath, but they cannot articulate what they are waiting for.
There is an old saying that when the student is ready, the master will come. I believe the same is true right now. The “children” are ready, they are waiting for the mothers and fathers to be revealed. If we are honest, we have to admit that so much of what is wrong in the world can be attributed to the fatherlessness of the generation we live in. I believe that much of what is wrong in the church today can also be attributed to the lack of true spiritual mothers and fathers.
In the first seven verses of chapter 2 of his letter to Titus, an early missionary and Church leader, Paul says: “Your duty is to teach them to embrace a lifestyle that is consistent with sound doctrine. Lead the male elders into disciplined lives full of dignity and self-control. Urge them to have a solid faith, generous love, and patient endurance.
Likewise with the female elders, lead them into lives free from gossip and drunkenness and to be teachers of beautiful things. This will enable them to teach the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, and to be self-controlled and pure, taking care of their household and being devoted to their husbands. By doing these things the word of God will not be discredited. Likewise, guide the younger men into living disciplined lives for Christ. Above all, set yourself apart as a model of a life nobly lived. With dignity, demonstrate integrity in all that you teach. (TPT)
Paul is urging Titus to teach the older men and women how to walk in integrity, consistent with sound doctrine, so that they are are able to become spiritual parents to the younger men and women, so that subsequent generations will grow up and walk in the fear of the Lord. Most importantly, he tells Titus to be sure that he models, not teach, noble living.
What can we take away from this? If you are in any position of leadership make sure you demonstrate integrity in all that you teach, and in all that you are. Be dignified in all you that do and remember that you are called to model Christlikeness. It’s not so much about what you do, or even that you are doing what you are doing…it’s about HOW you do what you do.
For the elders it is necessary to look around for those you can parent in the faith. I count myself into this category as much as into the first. We need to be intentionally looking for those younger in the faith to impart wisdom to.
For the younger ones it is imperative to pray for the right connections. Spiritual mothers and fathers will reproduce after their own kind, therefor it is crucial to look for the fruit that sets them apart as good models. If you see any fruit in their lives that you don’t want to see in yours, stay clear and of course, the opposite is also true. If you see something that you like, be bold and ask if you can hang around them a little.
What happens if we get this right? Remember what Paul wrote to the Ephesians? In chapter 4, verses 1 to 6 he says:
As a prisoner of the Lord, I plead with you to walk holy, in a way that is suitable to your high rank, given to you in your divine calling. With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially toward those who may try your patience. Be faithful to guard the sweet harmony of the Holy Spirit among you in the bonds of peace, being one body and one spirit, as you were all called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny. For the Lord God is one, and so are we, for we share in one faith, one baptism, and one Father. And He is the perfect Father who leads us all, works through us all, and lives in us all!
When we get this right, when we teach one another and hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard, we all come into our divine destiny…to be one as Abba Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit is one…the glorious, spotless Bride.