The Cry for Spiritual Father’s Today
I’ll never forget growing up as a little boy with a highly successful father. I came from a great home. In our early days we didn’t follow Jesus too closely, but all else was right in the world of our home. My mom and dad loved each other and they loved us. They provided well for us and taught us good morals while instilling within us a love of learning. We had a great family.
Dad was a highly successful businessman in one of the most successful companies across America. He often worked long hours and was so successful that we moved to a new assignment for him about every two years. I’ll always remember those times when his work required much of him and he was away. I wanted him to come home and play. I wanted Dad to throw the ball, shoot some hoops, or help me ride my new little red bike. I wanted him to read a bedtime story or tell me of his grand achievements at the office. Dad was my hero. Although his success took him away, at times perhaps more than some of the fathers of my friends, when my dad was home, he was always there for us. But during those away times, no amount of Mom telling me he would be home soon or next week would cover the cry in my little boy’s heart, “I want my Dad. When will Dad be home?”
The Earth’s Cry
There is a cry arising from the fabric of our world today—it’s the cry for fathers and mothers—those who through love and consistent input produce healthy sons and daughters! The entire earth is bellowing for deep, real relationships between the generations. Children in our homes around the world live without fathers. Can you hear them, “Daddy, where are you? I need you.” Young men and women somewhat lost along life’s journey are asking, “Who will help me? Who will guide me? Who will be there for me?” Even the more mature seek guidance from those who have gone before them and are finishing well. Can you hear the cry?
In America alone, 1 in 4 children (about 20 million at last count) grow up without a father in the home. The results are devastating! Fathers produce security, identity, the ability to trust, the desire for learning, and the propensity to be successful on the job. Ladies please forgive me, for I am in no way lowering the beauty and power of motherhood, but there is not a crisis of motherhood in any way comparable to fatherhood! The worldwide lack of fathers produces children who become adults who have a much greater risk of living in poverty, suffering teen pregnancy, a life that leads to some form of crime, and the list goes on. There is a cry for fathers today. Fatherlessness is one of the greatest crises on earth!
It’s a Spiritual Cry
Unfortunately within the church, there is not that great a difference. We suffer from an absence of healthy, life-giving spiritual fathers and mothers. Within the Church, who by necessity has organized herself for growth and function around practical business oriented principles, there is the cry, “Who will show me the way? How do I live for Him, get close to Him, and find His path in this spiritual walk?” We have wonderful ministries in every conceivable area within our congregational lives, but where are the fathers and mothers? Where are those who will walk beside us saying, “Let me show you the way. Follow me as I follow Christ.”
Jim Wall, an apostolic leader in a church-planting movement, illustrates this void in the following story, “I didn’t realize as we went to dinner that night that my life would never be the same. A few years ago, Joel Comiskey and I taught a seminar on ‘cell church planting’ in San Salvador, El Salvador. As we sat at dinner with several local pastors, I asked one what he considered to be the greatest need in the Salvadorian Church. He replied very solemnly, ‘We are orphans. Our greatest need is spiritual fathers.’ This was a man who had planted a church that had grown to 3,000+ active attendees. The church had more than 350 cell groups operating. They had launched successful daughter churches in several of the major cities of the nation. By all accounts he was highly successful. He was a spiritual father in his own rite. But there was still a void¹.”
The earth itself is crying out for fathers and sons. Listen to Paul’s words, “For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed” (Romans 8:19 HCSB). The apostle declares that all of the created realm is standing on its tiptoes in anxious anticipation for God’s sons (this word is used without gender to describe all of His children) to be revealed, but how will these sons be revealed? They will be revealed when mature fathers and mothers reach out and reach back to the younger ones longing for a guide and say, “Come on. I’ll show you the way!” The Father/Son Paradigm is written into the very DNA of all of creation, and creation itself is craving the return to life-giving multigenerational relationships.
When I entered the Kingdom at 15 years old, all went reasonably well until I entered university. In those early days of being away from home and trying to navigate a deeper walk with Christ while learning to make healthy life decisions, I found arising in my own heart the cry for a spiritual father. It’s so hard to explain, but from the most fundamental regions of my soul, an intense longing broke forth for an older brother or father who had gone before me and would help me navigate this Kingdom way. One older gentleman came quite quickly into my life only to leave me disappointed and discouraged about the whole idea of being discipled by the next generation. Then in God’s great graciousness, I met David and Ed. These two brothers really didn’t know each other and at times seemed to be working at very different angles in my life, but I’ll never forget that feeling of knowing that they were there. They became a part of Jesus’s anchor for my soul. They became a guide to me, a sounding board for both new ideas and important decisions. As changes came about by the Holy Spirit, they comforted me and guided me into a deeper and more solid place in Christ. I am eternally grateful for these men and their role in my life.
When Callie and I were in the early days of our marriage, we met Tommy. Tommy was a pastor in a neighboring community and we often had him come and share at the Christian Club we had established on our local high school campus. Each time he came, he brought a young man with him who shared his testimony with our group prior to Tommy’s riveting talks. Man, could he move you with the words of Christ! After several of these incidents of seeing a young guy share before our invited guest, I asked Tommy what was up with the young men he always brought. Tommy shared how he and his wife had decided to be a guide for the emerging servants of Jesus. They had built a couple of bedrooms on the rear of their home with a small bath and kitchen. Tommy shared how they read the Scriptures together each morning, ate often together, and “did much of life together.” We had never seen anything like this but from that moment on, we were “in”! We would learn this art of becoming a spiritual father and mother for the younger ones He was touching.
I am 57 years old at the time of this writing and still today, I have fathers and mentors in my life. For many years, Alan and Eileen Vincent were our teachers, our guides, our role models, and examples. Jackie and Linda White have been a guiding influence since before we were married 34 years ago. Jackie performed our wedding, brought both Callie and I into the ministry, and he was there for us when she miscarried our first child due to my foolishness. We have watched them and walked beside them as they raised their three girls. They became one of our models for a Kingdom family. Even today, Jackie serves on our board and Linda is a close friend to Callie. The Lord brought Jack and Friede Taylor into our lives 12 years ago with a lavish stroke of His hand. They waltzed in in such an unsuspecting way and have been a lighthouse to us for Kingdom living ever since! Their tireless pursuit and preaching of the Kingdom of God is more than inspirational, and the way Friede carries the Holy Spirit is so beautiful. Even as a man approaching the latter years of his journey in Christ, I need a father. I need men and women in my life who have gone before me and are a lighthouse pointing the way forward into the safe harbors of His Kingdom ways! There IS a cry for fathers today!
A Brief Moment of Clarification
At the onset of this booklet, I want to make a few things very clear. When I speak of the Father/Son Paradigm, I am using this term with no gender specificity. I am not merely referring to a man as a father. I am also speaking of the need for mothers to rise up into their place in the Kingdom of God. When I use the word “son” I am using it in the same sense as the New Testament. In many places Paul and other New Testament writers refer to the Christian population as sons.
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, . . . For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”
Romans 8:15–16,19 (NASB)
“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Galatians 4:4–7 (NASB)
Please forgive me the labor that it would take to speak of both a Father/Son and Mother/Daughter Paradigm. I assure you from the very beginning of this work, I am speaking about both. I am convinced by the years of travel and ministry that we simply need the older, mature, fruitful generations reaching back with an open hand and an available life to the emerging young sons and daughters bringing them into maturity and fruitful living.
But even in making this clarifying statement, I still have in my heart to speak to men. It’s time for men to take their place, and specifically men of the Kingdom of God. Around the world, the greatest crises are not water shortages, food shortages, poverty, crime, or drugs. The greatest tragedy is fatherlessness! Men, rise up, reach out, and reach back to the next generation and take them along with you in this grand adventure Jesus called the Kingdom of heaven!
In Ernest Hemingway’s story “The Capital of the World,” we find the heartbreaking story of a Spanish father named Carlos and his alienated son, Paco. After years of a difficult relationship, Paco finally left home, leaving a broken relationship behind. Carlos eventually discovered that Paco had gone to Madrid, and he soon followed his son there to find him and reconcile their relationship. After many frustrating days of searching, the desperate father placed an ad in the personal column of the Madrid newspaper. The father’s plea read, “Dear Paco, please meet me in front of the national government building at noon. All is forgiven. I love you, Your father.” Hemingway ends his story, with the father on the steps of the government all crying out into the mass of people, “Paco, I am here! Where are you?” To which 800 young men named Paco turned and replied, “I am here father,” seeking to find and reconcile with their fathers.
Hemmingway strikes at a deep sickness that plagues our world—the desire and need for fathers today. How many Paco’s are there in the Body of Christ worldwide seeking a relationship with a father or mother who will be a guiding influence in their journey ahead?
Small Group Discussion Questions:
What need do you see in the world around us for fathers and mothers? What need do you see in the Body of Christ for fathers and mothers to take their place? What are the effects on the younger generations trying to grow without fathers and mothers to guide them? What would be the greatest results of the release of fathers and mothers in the Body of Christ?