“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”
One of the greatest needs I perceive the world over is that of spiritual fathers, mothers and leaders in general who need to be healed and discipled to become mature and secure themselves. We have a generation who are calling themselves “fathers” who have never experienced fathering themselves, and therefore, they are struggling to properly fulfill that role. They are insecure and immature. You cannot truly raise a son if you yourself have never been fathered. It is an apostolic imperative in our day to see a restoration and maturation of the role of spiritual fathers and mothers in the church and in the world. God is our perfect role model as a Father.
Strong Personality is not the same as Authority
Personality is not the same as authority. Personality is how you act; it is possible to have a forceful personality and not operate in much authority. Character is not the same as personality, because character is who you are to the depth of your being. Character is who you are. Your character will determine the longevity of your life, the impact and scope of your ministry and the type and amount of fruit from your ministry both in the present day and in respect to legacy for the future.
True Kingdom authority has responsibility and stewardship as integral parts of its core. Authority without responsibility is dangerous; yet responsibility without authority is frustrating. Authority with accountability through relationship is a Godly pattern of Kingdom government. To place a person in a position of authority but not give them any responsibility will cause many problems in church governance. Never delegate a position to someone and then rob them of the opportunity to exercise their God-given authority with those assigned roles and agreed responsibilities. It will ultimately lead to demotivation, loss of confidence and can cause a complete break-down in relationship. Likewise, never delegate a position of authority to someone and then not give them any responsibility, they will just become lazy and unwise in stewardship of their ‘position’.
Perhaps we might view authority in this three-fold fashion:
Authority over means we are responsible for the people whom we have authority over and accountable to God for those entrusted to our care e.g. our congregations, our team members, our disciples, our sons and daughters, those we mentor and any ministries, or churches or businesses we lead. As Christ loves the church may we emulate this love to those we oversee. I have a network of churches that I oversee in a relational capacity and I also have spiritual sons and daughters who look to me for covering in ministry. I am spiritually responsible for these precious ones God has entrusted to my care.
Authority under means we are responsible to the person or people who have authority over our lives and we are accountable to same. We are first accountable to the Lord and thereafter to our leaders and/or our spiritual fathers and mothers, elders, pastor/leader etc. May we love and submit to those who have authority over our lives as we submit unto Christ in love. I have two spiritual fathers who speak into my life and ministry as well as a spiritual mother.
Authority with means we are responsible with others and accountable with them in a collective way e.g. those in a team are responsible together and have authority with those they make decisions with. For instance I lead and facilitate a network of pastors and leaders in our region. It is a place of plurality and mutual love, honour and respect. I am the main visionary for the group but we govern the group collectively and with consensus and whatever decisions we make we are responsible together for their stewardship and outworking in the region.
I also have a number of other apostles that I relate closely to in covenant relationship who can also speak freely into any situation in my ministry and life and vice versa and together with those beloved brothers and sisters I share another aspect of walking together in mutual accountability, respect and love.
True fathers are kings and priests. They love; they discipline; they provide; they train; they protect; they war; they rule. They are present, they oversee and they are prophets in their homes and ministerial spheres. On the other hand there are certain types of fathers and mothers who are wounded, immature and/or insecure who can become controlling, abusive and destructive.
Let’s consider some types of fathers, trusting that God is healing and restoring spiritual parents around the world so that the church can attain the full measure of the stature of Christ that Apostle Paul speaks of in Ephesians 4. Let me state categorically that NOT everyone is called to be a spiritual father.
Spiritual “fathering” is not necessarily limited to the male gender, albeit we must acknowledge there is a unique aspect to the role of men as fathers. Nonetheless, “fathering” can be regarded as a function of apostolicity and is this regard is not gender based. We do not minister in our offices because of gender; we minister in our offices because of the spiritual grace and authority given to us by Christ. We are neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female with regards to ministry function. It is a spiritual gift to lead not a gender gift.
As I mentioned earlier one problem, which I have observed and sought to find solutions for is that of immaturity in God’s leaders.
One dilemma is that people equate anointing to be an indication of maturity. This is simply not true. A powerful anointing is not necessarily an indication of maturity, because it is possible to be powerfully anointed and still be both emotionally immature and insecure. Maturity can relate to physique, to mental aptitude, to emotions and to spirituality. It is possible to be spiritually mature in the things of God such as disciplines of prayer, worship, obedience, knowledge of the word of God, of the Kingdom, of ministry and yet still be emotionally immature. It is also possible to be emotionally and mentally mature and at the same time be spiritually immature!
Immature fathers and mothers are not capable of raising mature sons and daughters; only mature fathers and mothers have the capacity to raise mature sons and daughters.
King David was absent from his daughter Tamar’s life at a time of terrible trauma and distress. When Tamar was raped by her brother Amnon, David stayed away and the situation festered until her other brother Absalom took matters into his own hands and killed his brother to avenge his sister. Perhaps if David had been present then the situation could have been avoided?
Absentee fathers create insecure children who have to resort to parenting themselves (and sometimes their siblings) in the panoply of life. This situation will always have an impact on life and ministry. Let me stress that I believe it is wrong to say you are a spiritual parent to someone and then not fulfil that role. If you are given grace to raise spiritual sons and daughters then please, do it by being present for them (not literally 24-7 but just by letting them know you are available and willing to stand with them in any situation).
Too many claim to have hundreds of spiritual children, but the reality is they barely know their names let alone their gifting and calling, yet they pretend to be their parents in the Lord thinking somehow it will earn them ministry kudos. This has to stop. You can mentor multitudes, teaching and training thousands upon thousands, but to truly raise a son or daughter takes time, effort, and investment at every level and the number of sons and daughters you can raise in such a manner cannot be the same as the multitudes you can teach. In this way we recognize that whilst we will mentor those we parent, we will not be a parent to all those we mentor. Jesus had an inner circle and circle of twelve and of course, He also ministered to the multitudes and in this regard we take our example from Christ.
A child who has had an absentee father will most likely grow up to be one who has an orphan spirit and struggle with issues of abandonment and a profound lack of self-worth. They will lack direction and may be bitter with unresolved anger issues. They need constant affirmation and may also have an inability to trust authority figures because the one true authority figure they trusted was never there! Despite these dire consequences endured by fatherless children, the bible declares that we are adopted into the family of God and that through the Holy Spirit we will cry “Abba Father” to the Lord. We are no longer slaves but sons of God and heirs of God through Christ. (Galatians 4:4-7) Through Jesus we can receive the fullness of all that has been promised for us in true Fatherhood. Be patient with these children and model true parenthood and they will flourish and grow.
Abusive or Neglectful Father
Laban is an example of an abusive father. He exploited his daughter Leah by giving her away in a cruel wedding night ruse to be the bride of Jacob instead of honouring her sister Rachel who was supposed to be married to him. Ultimately, Jacob also married Rachel and the two sisters for a time had a tortuous relationship because of the actions of a neglectful father. We can clearly see that by dint of what Laban did to Leah, he also mistreated his daughter Rachel. Additionally, Laban maltreated his son-in-law Jacob through manipulation of his time and service, although Jacob was a worthy adversary for the slippery Laban. Remarkably and despite everything they suffered, this family learned to love each other and to re-establish proper boundaries and Godly relationships through time.
A child of an abusive father will have had tremendous fear in their lives and will almost 100% suffer from rejection. They often have a fear of authority, no sense of purpose and a deep mistrust of authority figures. They can struggle with sense of purpose.
We recognise that true authority is given to build others up not to knock them down, Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, 8 So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 2 Corinthians 10 NIV
One of the great graces the apostolic ministry brings to the church is the demonstration and restoration of true Godly authority and fathering. This brings so much healing to those who have experienced abuses of authority either in their families, workplaces or church based settings.
I work with many churches and ministries from different denominational streams and cultural backgrounds. In this last year I have come alongside one church in particular that previously suffered abuses of authority under another apostolic ministry leadership. They just recently shared with me that through my walking with them these past twelve months, they have come to love and trust me because they have now experienced true Godly authority in apostolic functionality that builds up but does not tear down people. Glory to God for this powerful restoration testimony!
Insecurity often stems from a lack of identity OR confusion over identity. Moses was suffering from an “identity crisis” and grew up as a Hebrew in the Egyptian courts. When God called Moses he affirmed his identity within the context of his family lineage. God had to heal Moses of insecurity in his identity. God also had to help Moses to be a father. It took his father-in-law Jethro to speak a word to him in season to help him learn that he could not do all the work by himself. Moses learned to be an incredible leader, father, and military leader and he shepherded God’s people despite the fact that he was never really fathered in a secure environment in his foundational years. But he could only be successful in all that because God healed him in that area.
Some of the hallmarks of an unhealed child of an insecure father can include that they become “man pleasing” rather than God pleasing; they feed the ego of their father/mother because they are desperate for affirmation. They themselves are totally insecure because all that has been modelled for them is insecurity from their parent. They are stunted in their emotional and spiritual growth because their parent has the same stunted emotional and spiritual growth also.
They are often jealous of their siblings and suffer from “elder brother” syndrome. They are usually prevented from attaining their full potential because of the insecurity of their father. A person with a father or mother who favours one child over another (such as Jacob favoured Joseph over his other sons) will also be deeply insecure and quite probably jealous.
Just as in Christ we see the character and lifestyle of a true Son, so also in our Heavenly father we see the Perfection of fatherhood. So regardless of our earthly experience of fathering or lack therefore, we can find true fathering in the Lord. True fathers model themselves on our Heavenly Father’s character.
Extracted with permission from The Invested Leader by Catherine Brown
© 2019 Catherine Brown