Stories & Blog

Why Spiritual Fathers & Mothers Are Important

Connie Neckers | November 4, 2021

Many of you know Jim and Dana Cochran; our huge church started as a small group in their apartment back in 1983. They have been fixtures around here for all these years, but in early October they moved to California to be near their kids and their little granddaughter.

A few weeks ago I was at the grocery store selecting cards for each of them and found a lovely farewell card for Dana. Then I turned my attention to finding a card for Jim. Through the years, both of our roles changed a number of times but he had been my boss for at least 15 of the years that I had been on staff. I really wanted to express my appreciation and best wishes as he was about to begin a new chapter in his life.

What a jolt I got to my heart as I started scouring the cards trying to find one that conveyed my words and emotions. I had certainly considered Jim a wonderful supervisor and a leadership mentor in my life - but I felt that God was telling me that he was more; he was a type of spiritual father to me.

I began recounting that for more than 25 years he had invested in, encouraged, and guided me. He had given me numerous opportunities and had challenged me when I was still very spiritually immature and not thinking straight. The impact that all of this has had on me personally has been huge - he changed my life!

I felt such immense gratitude mingled with a sense of deep loss; it was at that point that the water works began! I did not expect to be bawling like a baby in the middle of Kroger!

In 1 Corinthians 4:14-15, Paul has something to say about being a spiritual father.
I’m not writing all this as a neighborhood scold to shame you. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. I’m not, you know, asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself." (The Message)

Pastor and author Jordan Loftis writes about this very thing in his article entitled "The Case for a Spiritual Mother or Father."

Jordan states that Paul told the church in Corinth that he was their spiritual father. He was there to encourage and correct them. His job was to help them be the people God wanted them to be.

He then asks if you have a spiritual father or mother in your life who can speak truth to you when you mess up? And if you do, do you listen to them? Are you teachable? Or do you get immediately defensive?

He says he is not talking about a pastor standing behind a pulpit preaching to you. He means a spiritual father or mother who knows what is really going on in your life. While it’s hard to open up to a person about your failures (and give them permission to correct you), it’s a key to our spiritual growth.

Imagine kids growing up without parents. How would they learn to walk, talk, and become a functioning adult? God’s design for the Church is the same as his family. Spiritual fathers and mothers guide, correct, and encourage us just like good parents do for their children. Read the full article here.

I am so grateful that I have had the benefit of having several spiritual mothers and fathers since being welcomed into God's family. Although I still enjoy being poured into, I recognize that it is also my season to invest in others.

If you would like to join me in this effort, come to Mentorship Mondays. A group of adults of all ages meet at the Student Union Lounge on the second Monday of each month from 7-8:30PM.

In the course of chatting over specific questions, munching on snacks, and sharing our life experiences, we make connections and encourage each other. Our next meeting is November 8, just show up! You can learn more about Mentorship Mondays here.

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