By Dr. Francis Akin-John
Just like many people referring to me as their father or mentor, whom I have not seen, known or met.
While wrong teachings and practices have portrayed the issue of fatherhood or mentoring in ministry only from the financial angle, yet the fact of scripture shows that it is far beyond that. As you follow me on this issue in subsequent posts, you will discover the true scriptural meaning and practice of godly mentoring, coaching and fathering in ministry, then and now.
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This is the second part in this crucial and scriptural subject, but which has been much abused today. Kindly read it with open heart and prayers, for it might shatter most of what you have previously been taught. There is still more to come. Here we go again.
Responsibilities of Spiritual Fathers – I Cor. 4:15, Isaiah 42:1-4, Prov. 13:22.
One of my friends asked me a question about distant or abstract mentoring, coaching or fathering, and this is my reply; in some situations like the one you mentioned, there is possibility of distant and abstract mentoring. I have benefitted from this also.
Even, lots of people are mentored by my posts, books and conferences over the years, but the ideal nature of mentoring is one on one sir. Personal contact, nurturing, covering, impartation, accountability, and sharing is fundamental to scriptural mentoring. Another scriptural name for mentoring or fathering is discipleship.
Spiritual fathers have awesome responsibilities in the body of Christ. Much more than physical fathers, they are to nurture the next generation of leaders for Christ. Once you preach the gospel of Christ and you have converts that looks up to you for spiritual growth and walk with God, you are a spiritual parent, and your responsibilities are inclusive of these:
*Nurturing and empowering
*Lay a legacy of good work and value system
*Be a good model and worthy example
*Broadminded and developer of talents
*Discipline and correction in truth.
*Encourage the weak, lift the fallen.
*Provide a ladder and platform
*Challenge and motivate for great impact
*Invoke divine blessings, favour and open doors.
A good and godly father must be free from selfishness, pettiness and jealousy, He is happy to raise up the foundation of many generations and rebuild the old waste places – Isaiah 58: 10-12. He must be ready to invest in the potentials, gifts and ministry of others.
- Difference between a father and mentor.
Too many people are confused about the difference between a spiritual father and a mentor. Yes, in many instances, both can be the same, yet in lots of occasions also, they can be different. Different people can play these roles in your life over period of time. For example, I have some few spiritual fathers in my life, and also have many mentors.
My spiritual fathers were there for me at the beginning of my spiritual walk with the Lord, they were there for me at the foundation of my ministry. But have to look for mentors in the unique area of ministry that God called me into, because it was way beyond the understanding of my spiritual fathers then.
Well, you may only have one or two fathers, however, you can have many mentors in your life, such as marriage, finance, ministry, health and leadership mentors or coaches. The followings are major differences between a spiritual father and mentors.
A father helped you to start, a mentor keep you on track
A father build you up, a mentor gives you clarified vision
A father sees your potentials; a mentor makes you fulfill it
A father keeps track of you; a mentor speaks to you candidly
A father deserves your care; a mentor receives your gifts
A father endures with you, a mentor place a demand on you.
A father knows you well; a mentor seeks to know you.
A true father will never abuse you; a mentor can take advantage of you.
A true father sets you on the way; a mentor gives you a ladder to climb
A true father posses a large, patient heart, a mentor wants verifiable results.
Apostle Paul writes through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “ For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” You will almost always need a mentor and father in the ministry, if you are going to go far. Your father or mentor may not be popular, well known nor have a ‘big’ ministry, but once he has demonstrates the qualities ofa good father or mentor, it is wicked to abandon him for a popular one.