By: Darrian Summerville
When I was asked to write this entry on “fathering”, I instantly began to consider all of the individuals God had used to shape and pour into my life during my journey from being a babe in Christ, to a young man, and now a spiritual father.
After some pondering, I came to realize that these individuals all had distinct similarities and qualities that separated them from other spiritual leaders in my life. My aim is to highlight some of those characteristics that so impacted me, with the hopes of providing you with some potential keys that will help you in your journey.
Authentic Spiritual Fathers are Servant-Leaders
To walk as a spiritual father or mother is to walk in a life of selflessness and humility. Spiritual parents serve their disciples or those who follow after them, not the other way around. I can’t tell you how many times I got the invite from my father in the faith to join him in ministry where he was invited to lead, and almost every time, I felt like I was the special guest more than he did.
Spiritual parents provide platforms for the next generation of leaders to further develop them in the journey to becoming great leaders.
Points to Ponder:
- King David was a great example for us on how to walk under authority in the place of humility under extreme circumstances. David’s obedience to not harm Saul was also a testament to his security in God (1 Sam. 24). David served Saul to the very end before he walked in his kingly call.
- There are many others that we could glean from as well. Elisha was found plowing 12 yokes of oxen when Elijah threw the mantle upon him (1 Kings 19). What does this say about Elisha? He was a man of wealth, strength and preparation. Scripture says he was attending (serving) his dad’s oxen and to leave it all to follow Elijah would have meant leaving all of his natural resources, comforts and provision.
- The Apostle Paul served Timothy and Titus until both matured in the gospel from sons to Fathers.
True Spiritual Fathers Are True Spiritual Sons
One resemblance that should be clear in all leaders that have been adopted as spiritual parents are the clear markings left upon them from their own spiritual parents. What I mean by this is that there should be a clear likeness of the way in which sons and daughters talk, walk and conduct themselves that should cause others to say, “Oh- I know who their spiritual father is!” This was true of Jesus when he said– “I don’t do anything I do not first see or hear my father doing or saying.” (John 5:19)
I’ve even witnessed preaching, praying and teaching similarities that span generations within the tribes of my friends in the faith. One astonishing fact in my own life is that I have met every one of my spiritual mother and father’s own spiritual parents.
Points to Ponder:
- Authentic sons and daughters behave like their spiritual parents (the good, bad and the ugly.) We see this throughout the scriptures.
- These leaders are still men and women who gave extreme honor to those who paved the way for them.
- They also are teachable. And while they may walk in significant levels of influence and authority, they still think do not think too highly of themselves.
True Spiritual Fathers Still Have an “Abba” in the Their Hearts
15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Rom. 8:15
We can never underestimate the urgent need laid upon us to answer the desperate cry of the generation, that’s our connection point! What is the cry? –Abba Father. However this “Abba Father” must first be heard within our own hearts.
Points to Ponder:
- Genuine fathers and mothers in the faith should will cry and weep with real tears for the prophetic promises to be fulfilled in the next generation. My spiritual parents still weep with me and for me to possess my full inheritance in Christ.
- Our natural and spiritual parents are God’s earthly representations and guides for His people in the earth.
Spiritual Mothers and Fathers Prepare Sons and Daughters to Marry Christ
When Jesus came to the scene, John the Baptist, the Forerunner, was the one crying in the wilderness “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” I find it amazing that when Jesus finally arrived and John’s disciples heard Jesus speak, John released them to follow Jesus. John did not try to keep ownership of them. Instead, he pointed them to their true Servant King.
One of the greatest privileges of leaders in the body of Christ is the care they expend in stewarding their flock. And part of that privilege is being able to release sons and daughters forth into their destiny in God’s timing; especially when that destiny and timing may not involve their sons and daughters serving as an underling in their particular church or ministry. John’s ultimate joy as his disciple’s spiritual father was to point them to Christ. This should be our resolve as well.
Points to Ponder:
- One of the greatest responsibilities of spiritual leadership in the Church is to help prepare sons and daughters in their maturity of faith.
- We cannot be takers and serve the next generation for their gifting and anointing’s only. That will only leave them devoid of authentic relationship and union, which then produces an orphan-spirited son or daughter. This net result is often a bitter, offended and rebellious heart.
Becoming Great Biological Parents that Reproduce Christ’s Life in the Earth
I remember my brother-in-law, who is one of my fathers in the faith, coming home after many long hours of the day, to a house full of kids and his loving wife, and she would ask, “Honey, can you take off my shoes?” I mean as soon as we walked in the door! And his response, was always “Sure, honey!” I remember how emotional I would get because I had never seen that type of Christlikeness being modeled out before me. I would weep because I did not have that level of sacrificial serving; God was still developing it within me.
I could tell you countless stories of when my brother-in-law was dirt tired and was asked to do something by his family, kids or friends, and lovingly served them; never once complaining. I so desired to be that great dad, but I didn’t’ have a close-up example to model after. God gave me that in my brother-in-law and it was through him that I learned how to get rid of my inconsistencies as a husband, dad and Christian. Make no mistake about it- I’m still learning and growing but it becomes much easier when God turns the heart of a spiritual father towards you.
Points to Ponder:
- The desire to become great earthly parents is directly connected to becoming great spiritual parents.
- Most of the time becoming a great leader is connected to being a great follower.
- If you look at scripture, many of the leaders didn’t get to pick who their fathers would be. Ex) Joshua + Moses, David + Samuel, Elisha + Elijah, Timothy + Paul, and the Apostles + Jesus. God did it!
If you are in position to father someone, could it be because you were a great son or daughter? By the same token, if you are a great son, could it be because you’ve had a great father? Take the lessons you’ve witnessed from your spiritual mothers and fathers and use them to impart wisdom, life and truth to this generation.