This is part 3 of a series of 4 articles covering the 5Fs that the apostle brings to the church. These Fs are words I have assigned to Biblical principles I see in Scripture. There are obviously not 5 Fs outlined in the Bible. These 5 Fs are foundation, father, family, fulness, and freedom. In this article, we talk about the F of family the apostle brings to the church. Here are links to the previous articles.
Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 1 Corinthians 4:15
One characteristic of a true apostle to govern with a spirit of a father and not like a CEO of a company.
Many people have not seen a good physical father, let alone a good spiritual father. But that is changing. God is raising up both good physical fathers and wonderful spiritual fathers.
Many people lack identity, value, purpose, protection, confidence, and discipline. We can trace much of this to not having a father in their lives. The revival is coming and God is restoring the fathers back to the children to bring health and wholeness to his people.
Fathers are unique conduits of Father God’s characteristics to the world. We need to know what father God is like and earthly fathers help us see Him!
God created fathers to be the first lesson to children about His characteristics. For this reason, the devil has attacked and largely destroyed the role of father, the image of father, even men in our country. We are told there are no differences between a father and a mother. I see fathers being made fun of in TV comedies regularly. We read almost daily how the genders are not important. None of this is true. It is a direct attack not just on men but on the image of father God.
The prophet Malachi said in Malachi 4:5, “Behold I’m going to send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord: And he’ll restore the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers so they don’t come and smite the land with a curse.”
I believe one sign of the revival to come is revealing who father God is. One of the primary ways to do this is through earthly fathers. As earthly fathers get to know father God, they will reveal Him to others, beginning with their own children. This will bring fathers back to their children and children to their fathers. This will bring peace, love, and stability to homes and communities.
Without this father conduit, a curse comes on the land. I believe our country now has this curse. Fathers are not just people. They bring something into the earth. When they do not bring what they were created to bring, the earth suffers.
America is a fatherless country. I am sure you have seen the statistics of fatherlessness. It is not optional or an old thought that has outlived its usefulness. God has created the family to need a mother and a father. Without it, the consequences to children and eventually society are catastrophic. We are now in a catastrophe.
The only way to reverse the curse is to return to the blueprint of how God setup society. Restore the family with a mother and a father.
Just as we need good physical fathers, we need good spiritual fathers. These are people, guided by God, to restore identity, confidence, and purpose in his followers. In the spiritual realm, spiritual fathers can also be women. I use the word fathers, but I could use fathers / mothers. Just as women are called sons of God, women can be spiritual fathers.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29
Reasons We Need Fathers – Physically and Spiritually
Fathers Give Value
They listen to your stories. They care about you.
Fathers, also sacrifice for you. You will see that over time. You will see they care more about what you get out of the relationship than what you can give them.
If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:11-13
Father’s give everything they have, time and financially, to see their children be better than them. A true spiritual father ministers for you, not expecting you to be there just for the ministry.
When they live sacrificially and pray over their kids, it gives them purpose. When they are faithful to one woman – the woman who gave them birth – it gives them purpose. It says to the child I must be valuable. I must be worth something. It reinforces to them I am created in the image of my Father; He cares for me.
When they become Christians, they don’t have a hard time realizing they are created in the image of Father God. They don’t feel abandoned because their physical father, who they were created in the image of, didn’t abandon them.
Fathers Give Identity
We all need help to grow up and become mature just like babies do. It is possible, but very difficult to do if left on your own. Most people either die or stay babies. Fathers give identity, proper training, and perspective. When we have to grow on our own, we struggle with feeling alone and without an identity.
Fathers Give Protection
Fathers are protectors. But they are more than someone to run off robbers or people that do physical harm. Fathers are protectors of life. Fathers pray over their family to be protected in their spirit, soul, and body. They pray over, guide, look out for their family’s spirit, soul, and body to grow and mature and be safe. They monitor what comes in the home, in the reading material, on tv, who they date, who are their friends, etc.
The same is for spiritual fathers. Even though they are working with adults, they will still watch over your soul.
Fathers Give Purpose
Wouldn’t you like it if someone saw your gifts and potential and invested in your life to get you there? Wouldn’t it be great to help someone discover their gifts and start walking in them?
Spiritual fathers parallel biological fathers in that they help us discover our identity and purpose. They pray about your future. They seek wisdom based on our skill set and personality. They seek words of wisdom, prophecy, and knowledge.
Fathers Give Confidence
We were all created to conquer, be fruitful, and multiply.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Genesis 1:26
Conquering is biblical. We need to bring the principles of the kingdom into all of society. Fathers help sons to know how to conquer in the right way. This avoids ‘toxic masculinity’ that is much of the news today. He does this by example. As a child gets older, they are reminded of their father’s example and this gives then a path forward. This keeps them from quitting when times get hard because they know his father did it.
Spiritual fathers encourage us we can operate in the gifts and callings that God has embedded in us.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24
Fathers Give Discipline
I am not talking about punishment for deeds done wrong. I am talking about how to be disciplined in life to be successful.
You know the number 1 way we do this as fathers? Not by harsh discipline. We do this by the way we live. We live disciplined and structured lives. We model it. We say this is what it means to be a man to a boy and an adult to all our children. By our modeling, by our fruits of the Holy Spirit, by our self-control, we say this is what it means to be successful, to live long, and to increase the possibilities of happiness.
Fathers focus on character and not just competency. Too many mentors see mentoring as a training program focused on the acquisition of job skills. Obviously, one element of mentorship involves mastering the competencies for a position. But the best leaders go beyond competency, focusing on helping to shape people’s character, values, self-awareness, empathy, and capacity for respect. They know in the long run that these qualities matter a lot more than skill enhancement.
Fathers Give Direction
A spiritual father pays close attention, looking for ways to nudge you towards maturity. They sow into your life, expecting you to eventually become spiritual parents yourself. The goal is to create a spiritual harvest that will continue to multiply.
Fathers talk about life, not just truth. Fathers are someone to receive an imprint from. Someone to interact with and help you sort out nagging questions. Someone to give you feedback. Someone to help us grow up spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually.
Fathers Cheer You On
Shout loudly with your optimism, and keep quiet with your cynicism.
Your mentee might come to you with some off-the-wall ideas or seemingly unrealistic ambitious. You might be tempted to help them think more realistically, but mentors need to be givers of energy, not takers of it. Consider why an idea might work before you consider why it might not.
Wouldn’t you like it if someone saw your gifts and potential and invested in your life to get there? Most ministries speak into people’s lives in order for them to get something out of you for their kingdom. A spiritual parent cares more about the place of their kids in the kingdom than their kingdom.
Paul was a tentmaker and didn’t take a salary. He said that he could receive money from them, but decided not to. Fathers are givers to their sons. We often have it backwards in our church culture.
Fathers Give Life Long Relationship
Fathers will invest in deep, authentic relationships. Life long relationships to impart everything they are. Relationships that are connected, fulfilling, and real.
Research shows we learn best by observing others. Some are learned by teaching but it is a minority.
Put the relationship before the mentorship. All too often, mentorship can just be a “check the box” procedure instead of something authentic and relationship-based. For real mentorship to succeed, there needs to be a baseline chemistry between a mentor and a mentee.
Focuses in a Church Led by a Father
Unity is Based on Covenant not Doctrine
What is the reason for unity in most protestant churches? Often it is doctrine – agreement on biblical theology – a statement of faith. This comes from the origins of the protestant reformation. The protestant reformation separated from the Catholic church because of its bad beliefs. This was justified, but it sowed a seed that whenever our doctrine does not agree, we separate. There is a balance. I am not advocating incorrect doctrine, but I propose that many times in the protestant church we have gone too far in the other direction. We gather as a community when we agree vs gather because we are a part of a group of people God has put us with.
Here is an example to explain my thinking. Politically, I am very conservative, but what if one of my children becomes a communist? Communism is the exact opposite of what I believe politically. The question then becomes, am I going to break fellowship with my child? As a father I say, “of course not.” We may have some interesting family meals together in the future, but they will always be a part of my family. I will not break away from my family or choose to break fellowship.
The church needs to have the same model. It should be a place where people may think through issues without the fear of not belonging. This allows people to think and grow up instead of being pressed into a mold of thinking to belong. Biblical theology is important, but we also need a place where people can come to the same conclusions on their own. Church is to be a place where we help people think through stuff, a place where it is ok to make mistakes and disagree.
This shows that people are valuable for who they are and not what they believe. This creates a safe place of unconditional love that becomes fun. I am not saying we acknowledge false doctrine as true, but we do value the relationship above their beliefs as we openly share with one another. This concept releases creativity, uniqueness, and individual purpose. Conformity and unanimous agreement are not required.
Traditionally, the church has required that right behavior is necessary to belong. An apostolic church reverses this. We belong to a family. We talk about how to believe, then this affects how we behave.
“In essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty; in both, charity.” – Moravian Motto
Focus on Other’s Call vs Their Gift being Used in the Church
We have a motto that we enforce rigorously in our church; We use the ministry to enrich people; we don’t use people to enrich the ministry.
This means we focus on people’s calls. This means helping people find who they are, what their purpose is, and where they are to do that purpose. We don’t focus on what people can do for our church.
We let no one minister because they have a gift. We have to know them first and form a relationship. Otherwise, I am treating them like a spiritual prostitute for our ministry. People are not valuable just because they have a gift.
A test of this characteristic is to value people’s character over their gift. Gifts are important, but character is more important. An apostolic church focuses on character first and gift second.
The sign of success in ministry is not how many come on Sunday morning. True success is how many disciples have been trained, know their calling, and found their purpose.
This characteristic will attract people. People are looking for someone to believe in them, mentor them, and release them with no strings attached.
Focus on Releasing Not Gathering
Does a Father want his children to stay at home forever? Ministers without a father’s heart gather people to watch them do their gift. This creates followers but does not release trained disciples.
Spiritual fathers – the apostolic anointing – send and release as many people from their church as possible based on the calling they have helped them find. Physical fathers don’t want their kids to stay at home forever. Successful biological parents have an empty nest with kids well-adjusted who are off conquering their area of the world. This is the same for apostolic churches.
Typically, ministers are judged based on their callings, gifts and ability to gather a crowd. But apostolic ministers’ success is based on who grows past them. Apostolic ministers are judged by how many people minister around them while they sit down and watch. It’s not how much I can do, but how much I can empower others to do. My destiny becomes intertwined with other’s destiny.
As a Father we give away what we have. So, we end up at the bottom of the pyramid instead of the top. This is how the apostle starts and ends as the foundation.
What is the Difference Between a Spiritual Father and a Teacher?
Instructors are not enough. Instructors without fathers to put things in perspective will “puff us up”. The difference between fathering and teaching is personal involvement and teaching beyond skills. Things a father should be concerned about is what I call the 4 Ms. In order of importance, here is the list of 4 Ms: Motivation, Marriage, Marriage, and lastly Ministry or Mountain they are assigned too. Their motivation in doing what they are doing is key to a correct identity. Is their Marriage healthy, if they are married. Are they handling their money correctly in giving, saving, and stewardship. And then finally, how is their ministry or mountain they are assigned to by God. The first 3 Ms must be aligned correctly for long term success.
Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 1 Corinthians 4:18 (KJV)
Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 1 Corinthians 4:15 (NIV)
People often confuse teachers with spiritual fathers. What is the difference? A father cares about the whole life of the person, not just the area you are teaching them in.
We will discuss the last 3 Fs of Family, Fullness, and Freedom in the next article.