Spiritual Fathers

Spiritual Fathers

Originally Posted by Mike Young June 2006

I have spoken openly with several men this week about some of the baggage from their past that weighs heavily on them. The weight they carry keeps them from freely experiencing the abundant life that Christ offers us. It causes them to feel inadequate as husbands and fathers so their marriages suffer and they struggle with parenting issues. The crippling effect also keeps them from serving confidently in the church. Many of them look around and observe other men who appear confident enjoying marriages that seem happy. So, they think they are the only ones with issues.

I know of various levels of conflict and hurt that have impacted eight couples this week (Stacy and I are included in that number). Each issue is different in shape, size and intensity.

But, the fact is: troubles are universal. Each individual and/or couple should find some comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our struggles.

In each case, the conversation I had was with the husband so I didn’t get the wife’s perspective. Now, I’m not going to say that men are completely to blame all the time, but I can tell you that based on what I’ve heard this week, we certainly should take responsibility for a large portion of it. In our case, I got aggravated with Stacy over what I thought was a big issue. Her response frustrated me even more and I thought I had lost the battle. My competitive spirit jumped up in me and I took things to another level. She didn’t respond. I felt like I won but really I lost. (Guys, have you ever experienced this?)

Well, I’ve defined the problem, what’s the solution. You’ll be relieved to know that I’m not going to say… Just let go and let God…. Or… remember the Fruit of the Spirit….or… Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted forgiving one another, even as Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32. That’s all good advice but advice is just talk.

I’m beginning to see more and more that men need examples to follow, and men need to challenge each other.

Consider what Paul says in I Corinthians 4:15. 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. Here’s how I view this verse, there are probably 10,000 people who would give you advice about how to live a better life. But, there aren’t many men out there who will be a living example for you like Paul did for Timothy, Titus, Onesimus and others.  Paul was not merely a teacher to these men, he was their spiritual father, see (I Tim. 1:2, II Tim. 1:2) (Titus 1:4) (Philemon 10)

In Chapter 23 of Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow defines spiritual fathers as follows: men who are walking with God and leading men by example to maturity in Christ.

Murrow also makes the following comments:

  • There were plenty of men willing to stand up and teach, but few with the guts to walk alongside men and bring them to maturity.
  • Men are perishing in our churches because they have no example to follow.
  • In both the natural world and the spiritual world, any man can reproduce, but it takes a real man to be a father.

So, this leaves us with two issues. First, who is your spiritual father? We all need one or more, but they are hard to find. Search out someone with the courage to be an example for you. Second, you need to be bringing someone else along. That doesn’t mean you are perfect (remember Paul’s struggles?) but even with his deficiencies he courageously said, Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ. I Corinthians 11:1.

Mike Young
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