Being exposed to a true spiritual father is one of the most refreshing and empowering relationships a person can have. Recognizing a father’s heart and receiving what they have to deposit can produce great rewards that carry into generations that follow.
Over my journey, I have noted the blessings that spiritual fathers can bring to those who walk in sonship. (For clarity, I am also speaking of a spiritual mother and daughter relationship as well.)
Let me first say that a true spiritual father does not attempt to be a biological father. When I first taught on the subject of spiritual fathering, I thought this would go without saying, until I witnessed some really weird relationships done in the name of “spiritual fathering.”
A spiritual father does not overstep the role of the natural father. In fact, if a natural father is present, spiritual fathers work hand in hand in the development of sons, respecting the role the biological father has. The smartest biological fathers I have interacted with have welcome spiritual fathers to add value to their own fathering.
For my own children, I pray every day that God will send men and women to cross paths with my children who can add to the enhancement of their development that Melissa and I are bringing to their life. If a biological father gets insecure of a spiritual father’s work, he either needs to step it up or deal with the insecurity that robs his children from being mentored by quality people.
Here are some of the greatest blessings I have found that spiritual fathers can provide:
1. Spiritual fathers provide a safe environment of love and an empowering dynamic.
Simply stated, you feel safe around them because love is their highest value. In that atmosphere of love and acceptance, there is an empowerment that takes place, because you are loved as you are. Therefore, you feel empowered to grow and break through limitations. When you leave a true spiritual father, you feel encouraged and strengthened to take on the world.
Connecting to a spiritual father is all based on relationship. They actually first engage you as one son to another. The best spiritual fathers live as brothers in Christ. They are not concerned with lording themselves over you or lecturing you. The motive is as brothers in Christ, which then sets a healthy atmosphere of respect and honor.
A spiritual father’s relationship is not forced, but grows organically. Therefore sons can connect by their own choice, not because of force or obligation. You cannot develop true spiritual fathering through having people fill out forms or joining an organization. The foundation must be built on adding value in relationship.
2. True spiritual fathers have first learned to be sons themselves.
This stage cannot be skipped, though many attempt to father without processing sonship in their own life. This is what separates the true spiritual fathers from the rest. They have learned to walk as a son before their Father in heaven and before true fathering influences here on earth. It always shocks me when people attempt to live as spiritual fathers when they have a track record of resisting any fathering relationship for themselves.
3. Spiritual fathers carry personal integrity and authentic experiences in God to share.
Paul was an example of this to Timothy when he reminded him, But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions . . . (2 Timothy 3:10)
Spiritual fathers do not appear overnight, because it takes years of their own seasoning to establish firm integrity and authentic life transformation in their own walk. These genuine fathers have been through some intense sifting and trying of their faith. They’ve learned to fight the good fight and are able to lead sons in the same direction they are headed in themselves.
Spiritual fathers set a good example through their own life. They don’t just teach–their life is a message. Because they have been through the fire, simply gleaning from their experiences can be so encouraging and empowering.
Their lives provide models for us, which is one of the best ways we can learn. Sitting in a classroom or reading a book can provide some resource, but it cannot touch the modeling that a spiritual father can bring. Watching how someone else does something is the best way to engage the learning and growth process.
4. Spiritual fathers create a great deal of freedom.
This one can be hard to articulate, but when you see, you can bear witness to this truth. The genuine fathering relationship dynamic is not of control, but of freedom. They respect that your walk with God is your responsibility, so there is no codependency in this relationship. They enhance your relationship with God, rather than becoming an idol that replaces your own personal walk with God.
Your spiritual walk should not weigh solely on your relationship with a fathering presence. At the end of the day, each of us is responsible for our own journey.
One of the mistakes people make is they put a spiritual father on a pedestal so high that they are easily disappointed. They also become programmed into using their spiritual father as a source and don’t press in themselves to search out and learn.
5. Spiritual fathers bring a spiritual covering and protection.
One of the greatest benefits of being around a spiritual father is they help provide sanity and sound thinking by what they share, demonstrate and advise. At the end of the day, you know they have your back, so this empowers you in your own growth and ministry.
They often battle many things that you don’t have to battle, so we can learn from their trials. We’ll have to face our own trials, but we become encourage to walk through them with greater confidence.
Spiritual fathers help you gain empowerment to work in your sphere of influence. Their covering provides, wisdom, interaction and healthy warnings. As Paul said, I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. (1 Corinthians 4:14)
6. Spiritual fathers help enhance the way you think.
Sometimes after they are done talking, you’ll need some time alone to process what they just said and how deep it hit your heart. Their view of God and walk with Him cause you to make changes in your own life after experiencing the weight of what they say.
A fathering presence helps enhance our grid of thinking and stretch us to see the big picture. It opens us up to more wisdom than decades of research and knowledge acquisition could provide.
7. Spiritual fathers lead you into maturity.
At the end of the day, a true father wants to see you grow and mature into a full stature of your design. Many people never grow up to become a mature spiritual man or women. They often remain in adolescence because they were not fathered into the various stages of maturity that are necessary for our growth.
Paul the apostle fathered many in the faith, so he was able to help them put away childish things and become mature people.
Jonas Clark says so well, “Spiritual fathers provide a safe environment to grow. Fathers train and prepare their sons and daughters for transition from adolescence to adulthood. They get you to think. Everyone gets older but not everyone matures. Maturity is vital in your life and spiritual fathers will put a demand on you to grow. Spiritual fathers inject a spirit of excellence in their sons and daughters. Demand is good for you and helps you face personal challenges that buffet success and achievement. As you submit to their instruction you will enter new levels of triumph. Expect them to motivate you to set goals and achieve objectives.”
1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
8. Spiritual fathers release an impartation into your life.
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6
So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:8
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Romans 1:11-12
Impartation can often be misunderstood, but its one of the greatest effects a father has on people. His life leaves a mark so deeply in people’s lives that they often replicate certain views, ways of living and even spiritual giftings. By simply being around them, you pick up who they are. You pick up how they interact, the decisions they make and how they handle people. Sometimes you can identify who someone’s spiritual father is by just listening to them talk. They deposit who they are and walk up who you are.
9. Spiritual fathers bring accountability and correction.
What’s the accountability? Most think of it as checking all the things you’ve done wrong and watching over a list of dos and don’ts. Yet the greatest accountability comes from those who focus on reminding of who you are. The greatest accountability I receive in life are those who help me remain intact to who I truly am in God. When I get off track the most is when I lose sight of who I am. It’s the root issue of every leader’s struggle. If we only focus on making sure someone does not do something wrong or sinful, then we will only be chasing fires that won’t go anywhere. We will be distracted from the most fruitful blessing of relationship, the enhancement of our identity.
At the same time, don’t expect a true spiritual father to ignore areas that need correction. Yet I have found when it comes from a true spiritual father, you are often left excited to grow, rather than shamed because of your mistakes.
True correction is designed to help you grow both spiritually and emotionally. (Hebrews 12:5-8) Some sons and daughters only want blessing, not correction and guidance by loving fathers. No one likes to be corrected, but it is what helps us to improve and grow as true sons of the Living God. You are a real son if you are able to handle correction properly. But here is the key: when the relationship is healthy and correction is done right, the correction is fun and it feels great. It’s not a beating.
10. True spiritual fathers release an inheritance to you.
What they fought for becomes your blessing. You did nothing to earn it, it’s a grace gift added to your journey.
It gives you the potential to go even further than they went. The delight of a true father is to see everyone around him soar higher than he has gone. Everywhere he goes he blesses. You are a better person for being around them and receiving from them.
They believe in you, which sets you up for incredible success. But you have to be willing to position yourself as a son and recognize this mantle of fathering on someone’s life.