Section Four: Fathers
In a general fashion, this is a review session and will simply lay out for the us the theological underpinnings for any ministry, especially a discipleship ministry. Participants in the seminar will have a chance to rewrite or affirm this theological statement.
Spiritual Fathers who are burned out, have lost the zest for ministry; they 'go through the motions' day after day; but with little joy, and with greatly reduced capability for effective service. The sad part of this is that leaders who burn out are among our most dedicated people.
The hopeful part is that burnout can be avoided, and, if caught in time, can usually be remedied. This session is a wonderful study on how to recover from and/or prevent burnout. We will study the life of Elijah just before and after Mount Carmel. It is a model for all who desire to help people. It is also a very personal study of how God cares and ministers to a dispirited prophet, i.e., a person who has faithfully followed the Lord and is now discouraged, defeated, and maybe burned out.
Defeating Discouragement and Burnout—1 Kings 19 (Lessons from Elijah in the Desert)
What are some of the specific character qualities we can deduce from Scripture that all disciples/leaders should have growing in their lives? When a leader is described, the tendency is to look at the outward appearances, actions, or gifts. It is interesting to note, however, that outward manifestations are rarely, if ever, mentioned in choosing leaders in the early church. This study will look at the specific spiritual qualities that will need to be developed in maturing Christians and leaders.
It is constructive to remember those who have influenced us; those who have lived through testings and trials. The Jewish people were called to remember the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. It is likewise appropriate for us to remember our leaders as well. We might be tempted to drift or to return to our old way of life, but leaders can help us. Which leaders? Those "who spoke the word of God to you." But notice what we are to consider about those memorable leaders: v. 7c—"Consider the outcome of their way of life..." If we want to be a leader, or we are a leader, these verses should be a powerful call to us.
Remember Your Leaders—Hebrews 13:7-8
This session gives us an essential truth for leadership and that is, the heart and ministry of a leader are inseparable. If we intend to be effective and reflect the lordship of Christ in our leadership, then we need to constantly remind ourselves of the relationship between these two. To put it another way: what I do is a reflection of who I am. Or, the outer life of service is sustained by an inner life of devotion. To illustrate this relationship, we want to look at the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. We will do this by isolating our attention on only one of the churches he founded and pastored. This church was located in Ephesus. In this section of Scripture, we will review the summary remarks of Paul to the elders at Ephesus.
The Heart And Ministry of a Great Leader - Acts 20:16-38
When Paul writes his first letter to his young associate, Timothy, he wants to spell out how people should behave in the church and he wants to speak a word to Timothy himself. In this situation, he is going to tell Timothy that at a time like this, he had better get back to fundamentals; make first things central. Here in I Timothy 4, Paul spells out for his young friend (and through Timothy, for us), the priority of ministry that will cause the people of God to respect us and to respond to us.
Priorities of a Pastor or a Spiritual Father - 1 Timothy 4:11-16 (The Cure For Ineffective Ministry)
What is the job description of a spiritual leader? I'm sure we could compile quite a list of expectations. In I Thessalonians 1 & 2, we have an example of Paul's heart and ministry modeled and described. It is an amazing story and example for us. This passage tells us why the Thessalonians stayed true and the church grew at such a remarkable pace. It didn't just happen; there were certain elements present that made it strong.
Job Description of a Spiritual Father and Leader—1 Thessalonians 2:1-20
The key question to ask and answer for all of us is, "How can I finish well?" Supplemental to this question are the related ones: "Who did not finish well?" "Why did they not finish well?" The writer of Hebrews is in effect saying, "Don't give up too soon; don't relax before the tape; don't stay down if you fall; get up; refocus your attention on the Author and Finisher of the race; and finish the race." From this passage, as well as observing a number of authors, biographies, mentors, friends, and family members, we will see 6 characteristics of people who finished well.
See also our Special Section on Burnout
Expository Preaching (Riveted and Relevant). Being riveted to Scripture, and at the same time being relevant to our times is the balance needed for expository preaching. This seminar will focus on a number of key ingredients that are central to the expository process, and lead to pertinent steps of implementation in people's lives.
Section four contains lessons for those who have developed in their spiritual lives so that they are now recognized as Spiritual Fathers.
The characteristic John used to describe those who have grown to this extent is repeated in two places in I John 2:
13] "I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning."
14] "I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning."
Here’s a review of what we have seen in section three: As we grow in our faith, John highlights three general characteristics of a young man (adult) in the faith. The three characteristic are:
- They have overcome the evil one--v. 13
- They are strong--v. 14b;
- and the Word of God lives in them--v. 14b.
Therefore, if we desire to grow up in our spiritual lives, it is wise that we mimic these three characteristics as well. The third section of the School Of Discipleship was focused on that goal.
As we grow into adulthood/fatherhood, God is interested in seeing us go beyond activity, to see Him as He truly was before He started any world activity.
Therefore as fathers in the faith:
- Maturity calls us to see Him in His exalted role ("Our Father which art in heaven...").
- Maturity calls us to know not only His acts, but also His ways: not only His creation, but His character.
- Maturity calls us to not only know about Him, but to be like Him, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, conformed to the likeness of His Son (Eph. 4: 13-16; Rom. 8:29)
- Spiritual fatherhood calls on us not only to know our Spiritual Father, but to be a spiritual father and mentor to others as we have been parented by our Lord (1 Cor. 4:15; 1 Thess. 2:11; Titus 2:1-8; Phil. 2:22; Acts 6:6)
- Maturity means we commune with our Father by means of in-depth conversation, plenty of listening and being still and knowing He is God.
Several of these lessons can also be found on this site in a section called A Pastor’s Seminar. The implication should not be drawn that only pastors are spiritual fathers, but it is best if a pastor is growing toward the maturity of spiritual fatherhood. At a minimum, a pastor should reflect the characteristics of a young adult in the faith. See section three: Young Adult.
In most cases, it is also true that in some setting the spiritual father is exhibiting leadership. It may not be a pastorate, but they are leaders by virtue of their character and lifestyle. If you are a pastor, you might want to use a Pastor’s Seminar as your curriculum for this section.
The following lessons are designed to be an encouragement to those who are exhibiting the characteristics of a Spiritual Father.