This is indeed the season of the sons and daughters returning to fathers. If you have been a son or daughter and have a broken relationship with your spiritual father, you need to repent and turn back to the heart of the father. Perhaps in the past, you experienced abuse by one you looked at as a spiritual father. They may have been that in words but not in heart and actions. Let me tell you there are real fathers out there, not a huge number, but ones with huge hears who can heal your brokenness. But fathers can only invest into those whose pride is removed and allow that investment to come to them.
The spiritual fathering relationship is more than getting some counsel from time to time, or being another number in a network, or just another stop in a preaching circuit. That is not fathering. A spiritual father invests into the life and purposes of the sons and daughters. They do this unreservedly and not based on the return from the son or daughter. They see their hidden potential and see it fully healthy and functioning. There are many claiming sons and daughters with no real relationship and the motive is not for the betterment of the person but to add numbers to their own tribe. The motive was wrong so the actions were also. This sickens me as many are getting only a portion of fathering without full investment.
All spiritual fathering relationships are required to have the expectations in them understood by all involved. They have safeguards in place as well to make sure things do not get off base. If Jesus could only father the 12, Paul had less, and Timothy was instructed to look to find them, then fathering is limited in the number you can truly be effective with. In the past few years, spiritual fathering has become another buzz word. I have seen many claiming sons who never spent any time investing in them but “absorbed” them already matured to claim they have sons. Or they absorbed them into their network without really helping to perfect them in the faith. To me, this is having the rewards and affirmation of peers, over the reward of seeing a son or daughter blossom.
Relationships change as seasons of fathering are completed. You can have 50-60-100 sons but you probably are only truly fathering a handful into the very depths of fathering at any one time, because if done right, like natural fathering, there comes a day when they stand on their own and have grown up. You will always be their father but it will change in function. If a spiritual father has many immature sons, then it is a sign that the father is still lacking in how to father properly.
Fathers love it when their kids come to see them and I love it when my spiritual kids come to see me. I’m in a season of life where many of those I have fathered that went out across the world to do ministry are reconnecting with me again realizing the investment I have done in their life has led to the current motion of God in their ministry. Many have come and spent time with me in my home. I also am seeing many, many come back that were prodigal or disconnected in the process. (As I write this another comes home.) This is equally rewarding as though they had never left. I can testify firsthand for the fathers who never disconnected their heart from their sons and daughters, no matter how they treated them in leaving, the hearts of those sons and daughters are being convicted and they are turning back to their fathers. I have some specific ones I am waiting on right now with faith and expectation for their heart to turn. My prayer for them is that it won’t take calamity like one of my sons overseas. He had been successful in ministry and became a “big man” in his nation. His wife died and in his ‘bigness’ he had no one to share his grief. I had heard his wife had died and reached out to him. Three months later, he contacted me in heartfelt repentance confessing he used me to climb up the ladder. The relationship was restored but his shame has kept it from being the same as it once was.
Once the spiritual fathering relationship is started, the father’s heart is always there for the sons and daughters. As I tell my sons and daughters, if I started this relationship, I already have decided the investment needed, the time required and the privileges I will give. I tell all my sons and daughters they have the same privileges as my own natural sons. They can call at any time and they have both privilege and priority. This is the hardest thing most sons and daughters seem to struggle with the most. They don’t want to be a bother or to take my time, yet ministry opportunity tends to come when it is not convenient and will always cost something if it holds any value. This is my first test starting in the relationship, will they even call me? Do they want this so badly that they are willing to take a chance in calling?
For the most part, sons and daughters are coming from an orphaned spirit. Perhaps their relationship with their natural dad is skewed. Perhaps they have been spiritually rejected, deemed of no value or pushed aside. These things are the second things I begin to press into to see them get healed and whole. Without these things complete in them, then all other perspectives and perceptions are really out of focus. These areas are probably the reason for the relationship. Identity is also a large part of this second step. Without a proper identity, you may never function correctly as function comes from identity not identity coming from function. This reversal is a hard one for most sons and daughters as they have always performed to have a place in the ‘pecking order’. For them to see the value of who they are to God takes time. This is the real heart of fathering. Patience. Long suffering. Right perceptions. This step is about helping the person to become whole in the midst of their confusion, perceptions, and self determined value.
The third step is the step of releasing potential. Giving opportunities for that potential to come forth and walking out life together. It is about helping with mistakes together and learning together. This is where ministry truly begins to happen and the person’s ability to rise above their past and into the future becomes present in their life. The core spiritual DNA is now drawn upon to see stimulated growth. This is new territory not fully explored, even if the person is currently doing ministry. This is destiny of the person’s life and how they will leave their mark on the earth.
These steps are paraphrased here to the simplest terms. Some of these steps will be occurring at the same time. Some will need to be done in a set order. Each relationship is different and requires truly knowing the heart of God for the person and having vision for who they are to God.
Spiritual fathering is an art form more than a taught way of ministry. You cannot read about it in a book and do it but it comes from a heart that has been formed over time. That same forming of the heart in the spiritual fathering is forming young hearts after they have been made whole.