We are in a crisis. Thousands of followers of Jesus are lacking spiritual fathers and mothers. In my book “Authentic Spiritual Mentoring,” I give story after story of young men and women in our generation looking desperately for spiritual mentors or spiritual fathers and mothers. The need is very serious. And young leaders need to be taught that they can become a mentor to others. A lack of mentoring is a missing key to building effective leadership teams.
My favorite definition of a spiritual mentor or spiritual parent is: A spiritual father (or mother) helps a spiritual son (or daughter) reach his or her God-given potential. It is that uncomplicated and that profound. Biblical mentoring is simply helping another believer in Christ take the next step ahead in their life as they learn to become more like Jesus.
Just as we raise our natural children, we must train everyone in our church and ministry to become spiritual parents. I will never forget the experience of being a father for the first time. My wife, LaVerne, and I had never been down that road before. I faithfully attended prenatal classes where I learned how to coach. When the contractions started, reality hit me, and I hit the panic button. We were going to have a baby! (Well, okay, LaVerne was, but I was on the team.) I wasn’t ready! I was too young! I wasn’t experienced! I wanted to tell LaVerne, “Couldn’t you just put it on hold for a few months until we are ready for this?” That was not an option. It was time, and she gave birth to a baby girl.
Twenty-two years later, I walked down the aisle with this “baby” girl at my side and gave her away to a young man to be his wife. We raised her to give her away. Now she has the opportunity to be a parent and prepare the next generation.
One of the greatest catalysts to maturity as a Christian is to become a spiritual parent. And the only way for a young man or woman to become a spiritual parent is to have children, either by adoption (fathering someone who is really a believer but needs to be discipled) or by natural birth (fathering someone we have personally led to Christ). As we open our hearts to a few believers and met together on a regular basis to pray and learn together, we become a spiritual family. It’s that simple.
Jesus took twelve men and became a spiritual father to them for three and a half years. He knew that Kingdom values were caught more than taught. Though He ministered to the multitudes, He spent most of His time with his disciples, who changed the world. The Lord expects us to do the same. (Matt. 28:19-20)
If you never had a spiritual father or mother, you can give someone else something you never had, a spiritual parent. You don’t need to be perfect, just faithful and obedient. If we wait until we think we are ready to be the perfect parent, it will never happen. Just begin. Start somewhere.
There is a tremendous need for spiritual parents today. Joshua had Moses; Elisha had Elijah; Timothy had Paul. Whether you are young or old, I have a question for you; “To whom are you being a spiritual parent?”