In 1 Corinthians 4:15 the apostle Paul tells the church in Corinth that they have many teachers but they do not have many fathers. I have heard it taught that this needs a remedy and that we need many fathers (and mothers). I don’t think that is true. At all. What I believe Paul is saying is that it is fine and dandy to have a lot of people teach you, but there should be one person you look to as a father in Christ. If we have many we call fathers, and I have seen it happen, we simply float from father to father, mother to mother, looking for input until we hear the echo of our own choice and voice. We disregard the input of those who disagree with us until we hear the voice that requires zero change and zero correction.
I think for church leaders especially, it is vital to know where the actual impartation is coming from. Church pastors or senior leaders need to be connected to someone who will hold them accountable for becoming all God intended them to become and no one does that like a parent. Here are five things senior leaders of churches need to do:
· Find your father
Jonathan Welton wrote on his Facebook page on September 24, 2017:
If you "can't find your spiritual father." Allow me to offer a few thoughts
1. Your spiritual father might actually be a woman
2. Your spiritual father might be younger than you
3. Your spiritual father might never speak from behind a pulpit
4. You may have walls in your heart against receiving from a father
5. Maybe you aren't going to be an intimate son like Timothy, Joshua, or Elisha; maybe you are going to be like a Corinthian and have a little more distant fatherly relationship with a Paul.
· Mimic your father
Paul goes on in 1 Cor 4 to tell the church in Corinth to ‘imitate’ him as he imitates Christ. He even sent one of his spiritual sons so they would know what Paul looked like through Timothy. I would suggest that being sure who your spiritual father/mother is, gives you the freedom to receive from other teachers, prophets, etc. as the relational security guards against confusion. Mimicking means making what is important to them, important to you. Sharing values and protecting the relationship. People should know you are your mothers daughter.
· Invest in your father
Invest in who they are. Buy their art, promote their ministry, if you can’t do that then perhaps they are not your parent and you are not as proud of them as you thought. Also, financially sow into them. I have heard it said that parents give their children money, not the other way around. I find that absurd and peculiarly American. The notion that fathers and mothers continue to resource their children keeps their children as infants. Isn’t the goal to be wealthier than our parents or is it to live off them forever?
· Introduce your father to your leaders and your church
This will help turn the culture of your church more than anything else you do. It is really that important. God has placed something in us that responds to people coming in from the outside and imparting wisdom and values way better than slogging it out in the trenches week after week. Take sonship for example. This is both taught and caught but it is really difficult to teach your people to submit when all some of them will hear is a needy leader saying ‘submit to me’. Finances are another prime example. Paul told the church in Philippi that he did not seek the gift they gave him but sought the profit it would add to their account. That is a spiritual fact, giving to Paul would profit the givers more than Paul but it is really hard and a little awkward to teach that to your own people! Bring your fathers and mothers in and let them influence your people the way they have influenced you.
· Develop a relationship with your father
One word, pursue. Not stalk, pursue. Yes, I know fathers and mothers call their kids, text them, send them birthday cards but you are in control of none of that. You are in charge of drawing as close as you can to your father or mother. Your job is to be a son or a daughter and that means not simply calling when you need something. Pursue a relationship, get to know what they enjoy and build a relationship.
Next week, I am going to take a look at the differences between teachers and fathers. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.
If you are a senior pastor or leader, drop me an email at ian@iancarrollministries or click here, tell me all about you and where you are from, I would LOVE to hear from you as you lead from the trenches.