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Chapter One – Father: The Role Created

            The role of fathers was not the invention of man.  The role has been around as long as Biblical record.  From the first chapters of the Bible we see man being thrust into the position.

            There is another principle that we find in the very first chapter of Genesis.  It is the principle of the seed.  The model found there states that a “kind” brings forth after it’s own kind.

And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.   (Genesis 1:12)

The process was repeated several times in the verses that followed.  With each new creation, the sea creatures, the birds of the air, and animal life, God commanded that each bring forth after their own kind.  Stan DeKoven, in his book “I Want To Be Like You Dad” says this about the principle...

Within the seed pod of plants, animals and man, is the creative potential of life.  When a seed is planted, when sperm and egg unite, the result will be (barring a tragic mutation) the development of a plant or person in the likeness of its parents.  This is a universal principal.  When God created man, He did so while implanting His own identity into us.1

            The principle is universal; everything that reproduces itself brings forth offspring after its own kind.  The principle that God set in place approximately seven thousand years ago still works today.  It is witnessed in every species of living creature that man has observed.  It is a principle that is true also in human beings.  With the birth of each infant at the local hospital, the process is evident.  Kind still brings forth kind.  This is true in relation to physical characteristics, emotional characteristics, and mental characteristics.  The Human species, however, is somewhat more complex than the animal species.  While each new born baby is brought forth according to the “kind” of its species, its development into the full stature of the species is more closely likened to a process.  Actions, attitudes, and responses, are learned and developed through the course of family upbringing.

            Most of us would concede that in a close knit family, meaning one where the father and mother spend much quality time with the children, there is rarely anyone who holds more influence over the development of the child than the parents do.

            My personal observation has been that this holds true in single parent families as well.  As long as an inseparably strong bond between parent and child is maintained, the child is impacted by all that the parent does or instructs the child to do.  If the parent is a sports fanatic and talks of nothing else, then the children are very likely to develop a love for sports.  If music is the main focus of the parent, then the children will likely be very musically adept. Based on the parents hobbies or interests, whether they be leisure, cultural, or academic, the child that is encouraged to be involved in the same interests usually develop a keen sense of mutual ownership of the activity.  Indeed, parents hold much sway over the acquired interests of their successors.

            This process that is evident in the natural orientation of the family unit is one that should be part of the spiritual growth of the body of Christ.  New converts to Christ, like new born babies, need the nurturing of spiritual parents.  Growing children within the church body, like natural toddlers and pre-teens, need spiritual parents to closely govern their daily routine and urge them on toward maturity. 

            It is every parent’s goal to see their children grow and mature into fully functioning adults.  When this doesn’t happen in the natural realm, the children are considered retarded.  Imagine a twenty-one year old child that never learned to eat on its own, or dress himself, or carry on an intelligible conversation.  No parent in their right mind would desire this level of development for their own children.  Instead parents spend hours with infants getting them to take their first steps, putting the spoon in the toddlers hand while coaxing them to learn to feed themselves.  There is much effort as well as some frustration on the part of the parent during the process of seeing that junior gets potty-trained.  In fact, throughout infancy, early childhood, and adolescence, the parent spends countless hours of goal oriented instruction in training a child to become independent and mature enough to function without outside help.  This growing process is necessary for the child to become self supporting in adulthood.  Though it may take some time, the child eventually relies less and less upon the parent for their every need to be met.

            These same principles, when applied to spiritual subjects, are no less important.  Jack Hayford notes that in his early years of ministry he was challenged to equip the congregation that he pastored to become fully functioning lay-ministers.  That concept was contrary to everything that was understood or generally taught in the religious circles of the day.  He questioned whether or not he would even be needed anymore if the work of the ministry were to be put into the hands of each and every church member.  However, the results of his obedience to the Holy Spirit’s prompting revealed an answer that he had not totally expected.

The church began to grow – not all at once, but it did grow.  And I began to find that even though the maturing ones did not need me as much as they once had, a new crop of people were rising that did need me.  They were the babes in Christ, the newcomers into the congregation, the adolescents turning the corner into college/career years and early adult maturity.  All of them needed what I had to give.2

            Even though Jack Hayford was a young Pastor at the time, what he was experiencing was the role of a Spiritual Father.  In the same way that natural fathers are a necessity in the life of children, Spiritual Fathers are a necessity to the growth of the church.  God created fathers at both levels.  From the early days of the church that was birthed at Pentecost, God made sure that there were those who were equipped to fill the role of “Father.”  The Apostles had spent three years at Jesus’ feet learning.  And though they were still young and in many ways inexperienced, much like an eighteen year old boy that becomes a father for the first time, they still had learned enough in their three short years with Jesus to take on the new role.  It was a role that they grew into.   Despite their youth, they became good role models; this is something that there is a definite lack of today!

Good father figures in the church, and in the home, are scarce today.  The consecuense of the absentee father are children choosing alternative lifestyles, one example would be that these children choose to be gay and lesbians.  Children are looking for their identity elsewhere because their fathers were not around to affirm them in all areas of their lives.  One thing paternity does is to validate a child; a father is one who says to his children: “I love you,” “You are special,” “You are a pastor,” “You are a prophet,” “I believe in you even if no one else does.”  Children need to find their identity in the home and in the church.3

            Children need to find their identity, and the believers need to find their identity within the body of Christ.  God, our loving creator, knew these facts long before we discovered them for ourselves.  Therefore, His first and foremost creation was not a newborn baby, but instead he created Adam to be a full grown man who was capable to be a father. 

Likewise when the church was birthed, we don’t just find three thousand new born babes in Christ being the core group.  No, God, in His infinite wisdom, sent his own Son to prepare a small group of followers.  These twelve, as unlikely as they may have seemed, had learned the art of fathering from the master himself.  The three year crash course that they received qualified them to stand in times of trials and adversity.

Though they themselves had seemingly just learned to walk, they immediately embarked upon the task of raising the newborns that God had graced them with.  The result was the beginning of the church.  Most fathers cringe at the thought of raising twins, and the thought of triplets is overwhelming to even the veteran dad.  When the miracle of Pentecost happened, twelve men took on the responsibility of three thousand new born believers and to make it even worse scripture declares that both men and women (actually babes) were added to the church daily.  These Apostles, Fathers in their own rights, had their hands full with teaching, training, feeding, and changing spiritual diapers for so many newborns at one time.  But it was a process set in motion by God, and the process continues to this day.