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.