By Joshua Horak
“For though you have countless guides [teachers] in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 4:15, ESV)
It was my 13th birthday. Tragedy struck. My parents announced to my sister and I that they were getting a divorce. My father was removed from my home.
Despite this tragedy, Father God remained faithful to me throughout my youth and into adulthood by giving me a handful of spiritual father’s. Now that I am both a natural and spiritual father, I recognize that as His Grace. Because of the divorce, I should have been a statistic. However, God altered this probability by ‘fathering’ me through the skin of godly men who chose to invest time in me and love me despite my weaknesses and failures. One of my most influential spiritual fathers throughout my youth, I now have the honor and privilege of co-laboring with in Christ within the ROCK Tribe—Brett Costigan in Kansas City! Through Brett, Tim Johns and a few others, the Holy Spirit has revealed to me over the years His heart for raising up a new breed of leaders to aid in the restoration of His Church on the earth today—spiritual fathers*.
I believe that fathers* help set into motion the destiny of sons and daughters. The church is over-taught and under-fathered*! I have never personally witnessed a church that is over-fathered and under-taught. Why? All fathers are teachers, but not all teachers are fathers. All fathers are leaders, but not all leaders are fathers. I do not mean that every spiritual father has the gift of teaching or eloquently articulates spiritual concepts, but rather that fathers are naturally teaching sons and daughters the ways of the spirit through both word and deed in the everyday rhythms of life.
No matter your age, experience, gifts, talents, calling, or situation you need to surround yourself with leadership that embodies the heart of your Heavenly Father! If you do, you will defy the odds. The problem is that there is a void of real spiritual fathers in the church today. Therein lies one of the greatest keys to restoration of the Body of Christ—raising up true spiritual fathers who will love and commit to journeying with spiritual sons and daughters.
Here are a few observations of what some of my spiritual fathers have taught me – modeling for me what biblical fathering should look like. This list is incomplete and still growing. I share these so you too can discover them, grow in them, and grow as a spiritual father (or mother)*:
- Fathers initiate, sustain, and protect covenant family.
- Fathers carry the heart and authority of their Heavenly Father everywhere they go and in all they do.
- Fathers recognize and embrace the assignment to bring heaven to earth in an orphaned and dying world.
- Father’s constantly speak identity, affection and affirmation over their sons and daughters.
- Fathers refuse to run programs and orphanages, rather keep the value of Father and family central.
- Fathers speak the truth in love, bringing freedom and solutions, without removing individual choice.
- Fathers suffer well and are convincingly patient.
- Fathers are humble and live with a servant’s heart.
- Fathers are quick to ask forgiveness and repent.
- Fathers are slow to anger and abounding in love.
- Fathers are able to separate the sin from the person. They hate what the sin is doing to the person without hating the person that is doing the sin.
- When fathers are stuck they know how to go to their heavenly Father, hear Him, and teach others to do so.
- Fathers are not intimidated by people’s sin and behavior. They always look at the heart.
- Fathers hate apathy and lethargy. They have an expectant, white-hot, passionate love.
- Fathers are disciplined and teach others to be disciplined.
- Fathers have renounced the fear of man and instead have a reverential fear of the Lord.
- Father’s pursue sons and daughters and are willing to do whatever it takes to bring them “home”.
- Father’s emit an atmosphere of safety. They create such an atmosphere of safety that, no matter the mess sons and daughters may find themselves in, they go to their father.
- Fathers take responsibility for the problems they did not create.
- Fathers teach sons and daughters to love rebuke and correction.
All in all, fathers provide the authority and foster the environment needed for God’s sons and daughters to grow into Christlikeness. Our Heavenly Father is renewing the revelation that He is a loving Father and restoring covenant family by restoring leaders that Father. All fathers teach, but not all teachers are fathers. All fathers lead, but not all leaders are REAL fathers. Which one are you?
Pray this prayer with me:
“Father, I ask that you would raise up fathers and mothers in the body of Christ that choose to fight for healthy covenant family(ies)! Teach me to be a ‘Father’.* Teach me to be a ‘son’ that seeks out real Fathers. Father, use me to represent you well to an orphaned planet. In Jesus name I pray. Kingdom come! Amen.”
*When referring to “fathers”, we are not excluding women who function as spiritual mothers. “Fathering” is not necessarily a gender specific ministry. Indeed, women are called to demonstrate God’s “fathering” (mothering) heart to others. The biblical term “son” or “sonship” is also a reference to both men and women who have been adopted into the family of God through Jesus Christ. Ro. 8:14-17