Friday, February 1, 2013

The Return of Apostolic Fathers (Part 2)

1 Corinthians 4:15 "For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ you do not have many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."

It takes a father to give birth to a son.  Son from the Latin root "su" means "to give birth."  Obviously, not everyone that follows you is a spiritual son or daughter that you have 'begotten through the gospel."  Franky, some may be autonomous sheep, disgruntled goats or barbarous wolves.  While others are just good people passing through.  So, how do you constitute who your spiritual sons and daughters are?

One clear indicator is PURSUIT.  Those who pursue you relentlessly.  You don't even have to be the one who led them to the Lord.  I've had many people ask me to be their spiritual father...but one of the defining factors is PURSUIT.

My calendar stays full and if I don't set it...other people will.  I normally do not have enough hours in a day to accomplish all that needs done.  Just like you, my time is very valuable to me to the degree that I have to be selective and make sure I'm spending my time in the right way with the right people.  I want every minute to count! 

When traveling to serve in various ministry conferences and meetings, I try to be aware of who is present.  If I take the time and expense to travel to the meeting and the people who've asked me to mentor them or enter into a spiritual father/son relationship with them won't attend (when they live there)...then I know they are just talkers.
I would rather spend my time with

PURSUIT is how you identify spiritual sons and daughters.  Talk is cheap...but PURSUIT tells you who they are.  If they are not pursuing you then you need to focus your premium time with those who ARE pursuing.  It's those who pursue that you can actually do great things with and help them become CHAMPIONS!  These are the people who you'll end up making the greatest impact with!

It's just like I said previously, I've had people ask me to be their spiritual father...but when I tell them that they need to meet with me on a weekly basis...and I even provide a one hour session (it varies from group to group) on Tuesday mornings at 5:30 AM...that's when you find out who is just a TALKER.  

If we can't do the easy thing (motivate ourselves to get out of bed early once a week...and tell our flesh that our spirit man is in control) then we'll never survive the tough places of ministry.  

I recall one time having a leader tell me "all I ever do is teach leadership lessons when I bring our leaders together."  She continued to say, "I hear you preach and teach all the time already."  I wasn't shocked by her statement (although it was very rude)...I simply looked at the fruit of her life and it was screaming "lazy, burned out, cold & indifferent."  It didn't take long until she resigned her ministry, backslid and left the church all together.  Obviously, I did everything I could to keep her encouraged, communicate and lead her in the right direction.  However, you can't make people come UP...they simply have to have it in them!  AGAIN it boils down to...PURSUIT!

I've learned over time to make myself available to everyone...but only give my premium time to those whose TALK matches their WALK.  

My spiritual fathers taught me that when they "SET THE TABLE"...then it's up to me to get to the table with my plate & fork while they're serving the meal. (AKA...Bible, journal and ink pen!)  They serve the food...I have to be there to receive it...and NO EXCUSE is good enough to be a "NO SHOW" when they're serving up a gourmet feast or even just a snack!

If I can make it to sports games, practices, dinners, movie nights, etc...then surely I can push my lazy carcass to do what's NEEDFUL for my spiritual development...thus strengthening my PURSUIT to become a spiritual son.  Come on somebody...say amen! (SMILE)

More to come...

The Return of Apostolic Fathers

Having been raised in the church, having been exposed to ministry as a pastor's kid (PK), having seen the inner workings of ministry from a youth is my conviction that we ALL need a spiritual father in our life.  In fact, I believe that apostolic ministries must have apostolic fathers.

When I reflect on my father's generation, I wonder how many of my elders had the benefit of a healthy father/son relationship in the ministry?  From the stories I've heard, many of my elders in the Lord weren't afforded this type of relationship...but rather were forced to learn what they could by scavenging through books, seminars and brief meetings with men of God who were hurried off platforms away from the people.  Many have shared that their only interaction with a spiritual father was one of correction...also known as "being taken to the woodshed."

Obviously, a spiritual father does more than just correct...they instruct, train, admonish, guide, believe and invest in their sons.

I wonder how much more effective we would be today if someone would have taken a personal interest in the call of God on our life?

We are seeing a fulfillment of Scripture today (Malachi 4:6) as the hearts of spiritual fathers are being restored toward the sons of God.  Spiritual fatherhood comes from the heart of apostleship.  Apostle Paul is our example, he had a vested interest in the success of his spiritual son Timothy.  You hear his fatherly heart when Paul says, 

"For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ you do not have many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." (1 Corinthians 4:15)

Today, we see horrible examples of fathers who are abandoning their wives, children and responsibilities.  Could it be that this is a direct reflection of the spiritual condition of our world as we note the same pattern of abandonment taking place in ministry?

Cross denominational statistics reveal that over 1500 pastors quit the ministry each month and thousands more leave churches without cause.  Pastors are leaving because the ministry is tough and a lack of understanding the roles of fivefold fatherhood leads to abuse. 

If you don't understand the role of your leader then you can abuse that leader.  Some leaders protect themselves by becoming insensitive.  Callousness, however, can damage the work of ministry...causing a true spiritual father to withdraw from the time it takes to raise spiritual sons or daughters...due to the fear of being betrayed, hurt and disappointed by the people they've poured their lives into.

It's risky when you attempt to raise up sons.  Some sons and daughters only want blessing, NOT correction and guidance by loving apostolic fathers.  As a result, many of God's leaders have begun to follow the path of least resistance and avoiding further aggravation.

It takes more time to raise a spiritual son or daughter than it does to convert a sinner!

The cry of the Spirit is the return of apostolic fathers toward the sons and daughters and sons and daughters toward fathers.  For decades, we have been missing the spirit of the father in our churches and homes.

Look at is a mirror of the spiritual condition of our nation.  A lack of fathers in the home is the main social problem facing America today.  Children of single parent homes are:
  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide.
  • 32 times more likely to run away.
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape.
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of high school.
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
The outcome of a lack of both parents in the home is lawlessness.  The family is under attack but hope is on the way!  God spoke of the turning spirit of Elijah returning to His Church in the last days.

Malachi 4:6 "And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

I believe a shift is taking place.  
  • Spiritual fathers do not replace natural fathers.  Don't expect them to take you on fishing trips or out to ball games.  They are spiritual fathers.  
  • Spiritual fathers are mentors that offer wise and trusted counsel designed to get you to think.  Submission to their oversight is Biblical, voluntary and comes through relationship.  It also affords you spiritual covering and accountability.  
  • A mentor offers instruction, advice, guidance and counsel.  
  • A spiritual father also corrects.  Don't expect a true spiritual father to ignore your mistakes and personality malfunctions.  Correction is designed to help you grow both spiritually and emotionally.
  • Spiritual fathers do not replace your relationship with God.  They point you toward dependency on the Lord.
More to come...