My feelings for spiritual fathers

Welcome to another UNFILTERED blog post on Thursday, the only blog that doesn’t care what you think of his invisible Batman tattoo.

“But you know that Timothy showed himself, because as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”

~ Philippians 2:22

“That is why I sent you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord.”

~ 1 Corinthians 4:17

This year I am working with a group of young ministers, most of whom are in their 30s.

I don’t usually share our conversations outside of our small group, but I thought this question from one of them – and my answer to it – might help some of you.

Frank, what do you think of spiritual fathers? I’ve always benefited from that relationship, but I had a friend who recently told me it wasn’t from God.

This is a great question to illustrate the problem of mental filters.

This is how a filter works.

You mention “spiritual fathers” and everyone who reads that phrase interprets it through a web of their own origins, theological views and experiences.

The same thing happens with the words “church” – “shepherd” – “apostle” – “baptism of the Spirit” – “revelation” – even “revelation of Christ”.

Everything is filtered through the experience, understanding and denomination of the person.

Therefore, people can use the same words, but by them they mean very different things.

It is the same with “spiritual fathers.”

I can’t tell you how I feel about it unless I understand what you mean specifically.

For example, in the charismatic world there is a doctrine of “spiritual fatherhood.”

I know some of the triggers and earthquakes that support this. (Considering those I know, that’s practically all they talk about.)

These people usually have a view of the “fivefold ministry” (which they also emphasize) that is not biblical, but originated from human tradition.

(See Rethinking the Fivefold Service.)

But from what I have seen, this kind of “spiritual fatherhood” is NOT what I see in the New Testament. Only a Roman Catholic priest embodies what the New Testament means when he uses the word “priest.”

In addition, some of the “spiritual fathers” in the movement were quite unhealthy – starting with “fathers” who are monsters of control on the one hand or “fathers” who do not have authentic or close relationships with their “sons” on the other. end.

In this sense, “fathers” and “sons” are indeed nominal, but are used as a kind of identity pedigree.

As in…

“My spiritual father is Joey Budafooko, aren’t you impressed?”


“Oh, yes, I did many spiritual sons, am I not a spiritual titan? And yes, I also glow in the dark because the anointing I wear is so hard. ”

When it comes to what we find in the New Testament story, we have a principle that runs through the bloodstream of God’s work. and this is this:

When an older worker matures to a certain point and has a backlog of faithful spiritual experience and service, he trains younger workers to take his place.

That is the fatherhood we see in the New Testament. And it is not nepotism, which is in the drinking water of the religious system today (but that is another topic).

(By the way, what is a “worker” in the New Testament is another conversation and one that is also filtered, but we’ll leave it there for now. I’ve covered that in the book if you’re interested.)

Jesus trained twelve people in Galilee, and Paul of Tarsus took the torch and repeated this pattern in Ephesus, training eight people.

Timothy was one of those people. And Titus was.

Paul calls them “sons” in some of his epistles.

“Timothy, my true son in the faith…”

~ 1 Timothy 1: 2

“Tito, my true son in our common faith…”

~ Titus 1: 4

I strongly advocate the kind of “spiritual fatherhood” relationship that Paul had with his spiritual sons.

But in my experience and observation, that SPECIFIC type of relationship is exotic rare today. And so it has been throughout the history of the church.

I believe there are two reasons for this:

  • Most gifted leaders have never thought about creating spiritual sons to take their place. The concept of passing the torch to someone else never occurred to them.

(See Passing the Torch.)

  • Some gifted leaders who “receive” spiritual fatherhood did not allow their egos to go to the cross completely. Accordingly, they turn into Sauls who hold spears and are threatened by any spiritual son who is recognized by their gift and shows God’s favor in their lives.

In contrast, true spiritual fathers are genuinely interested in the lives and ministries of their sons.

They love them as if they were their blood.

They pass on to them what God has given them without a desire for glory.

In fact, they want their sons to surpass them.

Now all this requires a huge the amount of breaking of one’s own ego and sense of one’s own importance, which is why true spiritual eyes breathe diluted air.

In short, what fathers / sons do today is really not in most cases.

So to answer your question, I feel that way. 🙂

I pray that God will give us all a rich dose of His grace to be true spiritual fathers and mothers.

Until next Thursday,


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