In your life, God will send a number of fathers to you into your life. Now there is a divine principle that is keyed into the fabric of the universe. It is so powerful it found its way into the Ten Commandments, and is quoted by Paul in the New Covenant:
Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise. That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth – Ephesians 6.2-3
So honouring your father leads to you living long and living well on planet earth. Or to put in another way: who you honour brings life to you. It amazes me that people try and live their life without honouring others and wonder why life never seems to operate correctly.
The first father you have, that everyone has is their natural, biological father. You must receive your father as your father, not as an old man who doesn’t have a clue! Honour your father! But your father is to bring you life and father you and raise you as a man, it is not often he is the right person to raise you into your ministry, so God brings you spiritual fathers too.
Among the hundreds and thousands of teachers we have in the churches (1 Cor. 4.15), it is up to you to discern and recognize the father or fathers God is bringing you. Fathers are the ones who are concerned about your whole life. Their input goes beyond what you say, they care for you and all of you. Their relationship with you will seem almost spooky as they minister into every area of your life.
Now many people mistake 1 Cor. 4.15, it doesn’t say “ONE” father, it says “NOT MANY” fathers. But you need to recognize them, it’s your job! Everything that comes from the Lord has to be recognized to be honoured!
When you start to realize a certain man is not just teaching you the Word but he is giving life to every part of your life and ministry, you need to realize the wonderful and precious gift the Lord has brought across your path.
Do not make the mistake of receiving a father as a teacher. You do this if you only receive part of their ministry to you, and don’t let them speak into your entire life. Right now I am seeing a few people shipwrecked because they have made some really silly, foolish decisions and it is breaking my heart. I said “Lord, these people are Tree people – they come to the church, they hear my preaching, they know me, how can they have done things this foolish?” And I came to realize God brought me into their life as their father to shape their entire life, but they only ever saw me as the preacher. Their failure to recognize me as their father has cost them dearly. I don’t know if other people will open the doors I was building for them, I don’t know if other people will help them get out of the mud they have walked into. My heart is breaking, but I can’t do that recognizing for them.
I have done my task – I have recognized the fathers God has brought my way. One of my fathers in the Lord is Robert Maasbach, I chase him, I travel to him, I change my entire diary to spend time in his presence. One hour with him has solved me problems costing thousands of pounds. One hour with him has given me wisdom on hiring staff, on pastoring, on transitioning, on fathering, on being a good husband. He hasn’t just taught me a good message, he has supplied life to me that has made me a great husband and father and pastor. But what was the connection that supplied that life to me? Honour. I go to him. When recently I sowed money into his church for that wisdom and life, he said none of the other pastors he is mentoring has ever done that. Honour is often spelled C-A-S-H, I can tell you! The son has to do the recognizing and the honouring, then life comes.
There are many instructors in the church and I will learn one thing from them, one set of CDs or DVDs just jumps out at me, one book I just have to read, and it teaches me and helps me and feeds me and gives me revelation. But my spiritual fathers – I listen to everything they say, I read every book they have, I let them speak into my entire life.
This week I recognized another man as a spiritual father. I hadn’t seen it before, maybe it wasn’t even the case before, but I changed my entire schedule to hear him speak and I felt a relationship form. I don’t know this man, I have never met him in person, but as I started to discern, I gave a large gift to his ministry, I started to honour him like never before, I bought the few books of his that I don’t have and started to meditate on them. I am doing the honour part, so I know the life part will come soon.
I know I operate as spiritual father to a number of people – you can’t plant a church successfully unless you do. But here is a lesson for some of you ministers and church planters – you cannot force fathering on anyone, you cannot make someone recognize the awesome gift of grace that you are to them. You just have to love and nurture, and if they fail to recognize, they will have to deal with that.
But everyone reading this, open your eyes. Spiritual fathers come from God and you have a few. Not many, but a few. But you have to recognize them to honour them, and you have to honour them to get the life from them. Ask God to open your eyes today.