Spiritual Fathers 01: Who Is Your Daddy?

“For though ye have 10000 instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4.15)

One of the most precious gifts God can bring into your life is a father in the faith, a spiritual faith.  These gifts are very precious because they are so rare.  There are so many teachers in the body of Christ, you can watch them all day on Christian TV, log in over the internet and listen to teachers all day long.

Paul when addressing the Corinthians is trying to let them realize this: many, many people will make an input into your life.  But they are not your fathers.

I want to spend some time talking about spiritual fathers on this blog because many Christians come across as spiritual orphans, no confidence in who they are or what they are called to do.  It’s because they are fatherless.

  • A teacher cares about giving a good lesson
  • A father cares about your total well-being

Because of this simple difference you will find there are not many fathers.  Many preachers are far more concerned about what you think of their message than raising you up and loving you.

And the truth is most Christians are still carnal, ungrateful, selfish – and they need a spiritual father to lift them higher in their difficult walk in life.

I can find a thousand prophets, a thousand evangelists and a thousand pastors.  But I have found few true fathers in my life.  Truly there can be 10000 instructors, but only a few fathers.  The true truth of a father is what he brings out in other people.  The proof of a good father is his children.

It takes love, commitment and time to raise children.  And in the end the only voice that will affirm you as a good father is the voice of your children.

If you look at Elijah, he was a father.  He fathered Elisha.  Both Elijah and Elisha were prophets, only Elijah was a father.  Elisha had a spiritual son, Gehazi, and he cursed him for his issues with money.  A true father doesn’t curse their son, especially his only son.  The fathering spirit reaches into others and makes them like you.  It brings a love that brings ignorant people into wisdom, lost people into family and hurting people into wholeness.

It takes love to raise a child and patience.  I have 4 children, and children don’t understand their parents.  They have a wrong perception of you until they mature.  You have to love them anyway.  You have to endure looking bad to do what is right to mature your children.  It’s the same spiritually – you have to endure looking bad to do what is right to mature your children.

I thank God for the many teachers he has brought into my life, and the lessons they have taught me, and the points of doctrine they have helped me with.  But I thank God more for the few fathers I have had who have invested love and patience with me when I did not deserve it and did not even know I needed it.

I have noticed that efficient and idealistic people, perfectionists, do not make good fathers.  They don’t have grace.  They insist on 100%, and people can’t give it all the time.  Especially the immature.

Many people know I am a great teacher.  Only some know I am a great father.  May you find a father or two in this life.  May you love and nurture and become a spiritual father to people yourself!

 

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5 Signs Someone is a Novice

Paul told Timothy that when he appointed elders into the church not to appoint novices (1 Tim. 3.6).  Some people are charismatic, charming, efficient, kind and helpful.  You should be keen to appoint people who can do the job and who know what to do and how to do it well.

But you must not appoint a novice.  Don’t appoint someone who is immature.  It can be difficult to see immaturity – a little child seems perfectly mature until he doesn’t get his own way.  A person may seem like a good church leader until they don’t get their own way.

Here are 5 sure signs that someone is immature:

  1. They Don’t Know the Bible!
    1. Mature Christian leaders know the Bible.  They base their theology and doctrine and practice on the Bible, not their opinion or their ideas.  If you are going to appoint someone as an elder or leader in the church, don’t be afraid to ask them “where does the Bible talk about the resurrection of Jesus?”, please quote Romans 6.23, 2 Cor. 5.17 to me.  People should know the basic Scriptures about our faith and the foundation of our faith.
    2. When Jesus fought the devil in the desert, Jesus knew the devil.
  2. They Have No Interest in Sermons and Christian Material
    1. Immature Christians do not listen to sermons and do not read Christian books.  Show me a Christian who listens to CDs of sermons and reads Christian books – that is someone who is going to be mature.
  3. They Don’t Worship!
    1. They mumble and stumble around during the worship, they don’t know God, and they don’t want to!  The truth is they never worship on their own!
  4. They are Utterly Inconsistent in their Worship
    1. They struggle to attend church, they turn up late week after week – it’s like church is a chore for them.  A man who loves a woman doesn’t make visiting her a chore.  If you love the Lord and are mature, then church is not a chore.
    2. Some people just fade away from church, they are not mature people.
  5. They Are After a Title, Not a Job
    1. Immature people want the titles: they want you to call them pastor, they want to be the elder.  It’s amazing how many people who are hardly at church who want to be an elder!  It’s tragic how many people want you to call them “pastor” but don’t want to pastor anyone.
    2. In the Tree, we don’t give out titles, we give our job descriptions.  It soon separates the mature from the immature!

The Power of a Team (part 3 – The Principle of Ranking)

In Joel 2.7 one of the things we find out about the great army approaching is that “they shall not break ranks”.

A lot of people in leadership teams, a lot of people in churches especially, do not understand the principle of ranking.  It upsets them because they think that life should be equitable and everything should be shared out.

The fact is that on an ontological level we are all ranked the same.  We are all human beings with equal worth and equal rights.  But on a teleological level – how we function – we are not all the same, we have different functions which leads to different rewards and different opportunities.

This concept can be hard to grasp, so let me give you a couple of examples.   You know for example that Jesus is fully God (John 1.1-3).  He is exactly God.  He is on an ontological level the same as God. Fully God, not worth less or with less rights than God. But Jesus also said “The Father is greater than I”. So what does that mean? It means on a functional level Jesus saw that the Father was the one with the rank. Jesus would not break rank, he kept rank. Although he was fully God, he only ever did what he saw the Father do and only said what the Father said.  Ontologically the same, functionally different.

My sons and my daughter are worth as much as me, they are ontologically the same. But I tell them when to go to bed, they don’t tell me when to go to bed. Functionally we are different.

It is the same in any organization, and the church cannot be the exception.  This is principle of God hard-wired into the universe!  Politicians have tried to make everyone the same and it never works!

If you are a leader you must realize you have a place – you have a rank and you should stay in that rank.

Your rank is how you operate. If people are allowed to break rank, then your organization will turn to chaos. Ranking is positive as it shows you there is potential within an organization.

I know many men who have a far greater ministry than I do.  Some of my closest friends have done far more in ministry than I have.  I get really excited when they tell me what the Lord is doing with them – it encourages me to dream big, but I will tell you the truth: I always respect those who are ahead of me.

Now where you are right now is not your rank for life, but you have to learn to function at the rank you are at.  If you are a pastor, be a pastor and be a good and happy pastor.  If you are an elder, be a faithful and good elder. Enjoy being an elder.  If you are a Bible College student, enjoy it and learn everything you can, you will be coming out of that bubble soon. If you are the assistant pastor, be the best assistant pastor in the world – when you finally get the big chair, then you will be glad of every day you were not in it, I can promise you!

If you want more rank, you have to be faithful where you are. 

But be aware, the more promotion the more persecution.  You will never know the implications and the role of a higher rank until you enter into it. If someone is paying your salary, you do not know what they are doing to believe God for that money to come in. Maybe you should be wise enough not to criticise them.

One of the worst things you can do in terms of your destiny is to try and promote yourself before the Lord is going to promote you.  

A lot of people are guilty of self-promotion, but they are not faithful, not supportive, not encouragers.  They want more honour but do not know how to show honour.  I have been in the ministry for many years now, and been serving the Lord for over twenty years, and I have seen so many flash-in-the-pan ministries come up and fall down because they don’t understand simple truths of Scripture.  This truth will protect you a great deal.

 

The Power of a Team (part 2 – We All Win or We All Lose)

My son came home from school this week disappointed.  It’s that time of year where students his age find out if they have been accepted into the university of their choice.  My son was not sad because he was rejected, but he was sad because a friend of his didn’t get any of their choices.

It’s difficult to rejoice when your friend is suffering a bit.  It’s difficult to rejoice when 5 of you are off to the university of your choice, but your friend is stuck.

If you are a leader you need to understand and embrace this principle: we all win, or nobody really wins.  If you have enough money, you want your friends to have enough.  If your marriage is working, you want your friend’s marriage to work too.

Jacob had twelve sons but when one son was lost, he had no joy.  If you are a leader, you need to be the one who goes after the lost sheep, who sweeps the house to find the lost coin and who waits hopefully for the lost son.

We serve a God who would not start a banquet until all the places were full (Luke 14.21-23).

Learn to be the person who looks out for people.  Who gathers the lost.  Who ensures we all make it together.

It’s not always possible.  Some lost sons never come to their senses, some people will never come to the banquet, some people will never take their place at the table.  But as much as it is in your power, gather the people and make sure you win together.

The Power of a Team (part 1 – We All Go Together)

The start of a new series in this leadership blog on the power of a team.  Today, I want to talk about something dear to my heart and that is about raising up people as you move forward, rather than stepping on people to move forward.

If you are a leader you will move forward and rise up.  That’s part of the nature of a leader.  But if you go alone, it is a lonely place.  If you take others with you, can you share the fruits of success, and that is far, far better.

Having no-one to share your joy with is not a good place to be!  Joy shared is double joy!  When you can speak freely about how God has blessed you because the people around you are also blessed, that is better.  People who can relate to you is something so precious.

Also, being the top leader is a position of vulnerability.  If someone wants a piece of your thing (and sadly there are always unscrupulous people out there), they will attack and malign you.  “Oh he has built something great, but he has his flaws” is the attitude of Absalom that still infects many selfishly ambitious Christians today!

If you are the only pastor with a nice house, people will see.  If all the pastors have nice houses that is better.  If you are the only pastor who travels, that is the way it is, but if the others travel too, then that is better.  Sometimes you should stay at home, and let the other pastors travel.

Finally if you are the only one at the top, people will try and bring you down.  Those crazy people I mentioned earlier – they want you to fall to their level of self-frustration.  But if you are all at the top, they can only pull you to the side!

This is what Jesus was like – when He got a wedding invite, He brought the disciples.  He ate with his disciples.  He even invited a thief to join Him in paradise when He was dying.

If you are a leader, when was the last time you invited someone somewhere nice?

 

10 Things You Can Do This Sunday to Make Church More Fun For Everyone

10.  Buy a hamper.  Give everyone a ticket as they come in.  Hold a raffle in the middle of the service.

9.  Play a really old well known hymn.  Even use the original tune.  Belt it out!

8.  Receive the offering to the tune of Yakkety Sax.

7.  Give the people bingo cards with very spiritual words on: righteousness, faith, holy, etc.  Play bingo during the sermon.

6.  Preach with a huge bag of wine gums in your hand.  Hand them out to everyone in the front row as you preach.

5.  Use props to make your sermon more accessible to the visual minded people in your church (over a third of people find it much easier to process and retain information associated with an image)

4.  Start a conga line during Shine, Jesus, Shine.

3.  Make all your ushers wear purple.  When asked why tell them that only people wearing purple will be raptured.

2. Have a good time yourself.  If you look forward to it and enjoy it, that is contagious.

And finally…

1.  Tell someone you are genuinely glad they came.