When I spoke at a Bible school conducted at one of America’s dynamic mega-churches a few years ago, a young man approached me after the session. “I’m on staff here, but I’m leaving next month,” he confided.

Puzzled, I asked, “Why?”

He looked deeply into my eyes as he said, “Larry, if just one person in leadership at this church sat down with me for an hour once a month and asked me how I was doing, I would stay.”

The young man was looking for a spiritual father—someone to spend some time with him, someone who offered support, guidance and feedback that would enable him to learn to use his gifts and talents within the church. But everyone was too busy: More attention was paid to the church’s many programs than to individual people.

Another time, LaVerne and I received a visit from a new believer who was discouraged. “LaVerne and Larry,” she said, “I know the Lord has changed my life, but there is so much I don’t understand. I’m not sure if I’ll make it. I just can’t decipher half of what I hear in church.” Then she admitted the true cry of her heart: “I really need someone to help me understand the things I’m taught. I need someone to help me grow up spiritually.”

She needed a spiritual mother. I hear stories like these again and again. As I travel throughout the world to train leaders and potential leaders week after week, I see a consistent and desperate need for believers who are willing to serve as spiritual fathers and mothers to the next generation. Whether the Christians are new to the faith, have been practicing the faith for many years or even are pastors, the need is still the same: Deep down inside, there is a longing to be mothered or fathered.

God has created us with a need to feel connected in relationships, but a painful lack of nurturing, support and interaction in the Church has created a void.

The scriptures prophesy, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6 NKJV).

Let’s ask the Lord to use us as He turns our hearts towards those whom need spiritual fathers and mothers in our generation, so the curse of fatherlessness can be broken and turned into a blessing.

(Much of this was taken from my new book, “The Cry for Spiritual Mothers and Fathers—The Next Generation Needs You to be a Spiritual Mentor,” scheduled to be released by Regal Books at the end of February).