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Spiritual Parents

I'm reading through 1 Corinthians and came across this verse: For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I urge you to imitate me. 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 NLT

I read this and cringed a little. So I had to stop and ask myself why. When I think of a spiritual father, I think of someone who is a father. A dad, leading and protecting his family, playing with his kids, and teaching them too. Someone who is involved, cares, and has a relationship with his children.

So to me, a spiritual father is someone who can teach me the word of God. Can teach me how to pray, how to be more like Christ, how to walk in the power of God. It's someone who knows me well enough that they can correct me if I need it, and I trust them enough to receive that correction. And this doesn't just happen from the pulpit. It's not about listening to a Sunday sermon and no more.

I've had two pastors claim to be my spiritual father. Neither lived up to this idea of what I believe a spiritual father should look like, which I think is why I found this verse a bit cringy. In fact, one only used the term when he felt I was "misbehaving". The other lives in a different state and barely knew me or spoke to me. Although, I suspect if my husband had been as interested in his sermons as I was at the time, things might have been different.

Anyway, as I read Paul's words, I had this idea that Paul was like these men. He was writing to the church in Corinth and correcting them for their childish behavior. But he wasn't physically there with them. He had been, at one time, but now he was off somewhere else with other people.

I realized I needed to dig a little deeper because obviously I have an issue here I need to work out. The first thing I looked at was how long Paul was in Corinth. His first visit there was about one and half years. His second, was about 3 months.

Next I had to consider how Paul lived while he was in Corinth. Acts 18 describes his time there. He worked as a tent maker alongside Priscilla and Aquila. On the sabbath, he preached in the synagogue but was rejected. So he preached to the gentiles in the house of Titus Justus. Eventually Timothy and Silas brought him a financial gift and he was able to devote more time to sharing the gospel rather than tent making.

Through his work, he developed relationships with Priscilla and Aquila. Friendship. The house church would have been small at first. He would have had the opportunity to understand the culture, and the people. He would have had in-depth conversations with them. And we know, from the book of acts, that the apostles spent time, not just preaching, but teaching the Word. Going through scripture with their followers, praying about what they read, and proving the word, with the word.

We also know that after he left he wrote at least two letters to them, possibly he was in contact with them more regularly. To me, this eases my mind about him being a spiritual father.

Plus, he ends chapter 4 of 1 Corinthians with this statement: But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. 1 Corinthians 4:19-20 NLT

This is important, because Corinth was a Greek commerce town. During that time, the Greeks believed in education and philosophy. They spent a lot of time thinking and talking about what they thought about. And Paul is reminding them that's not what the kingdom of God is about. Which means he taught them that concept when he was with them and he's clearly frustrated that they aren't walking it out after he spent so much time with them. He knows the people in the church of Corinth. And he's correcting them because he knows them.

If there is any one man who I would claim to be my spiritual parent, it would be the person (actually people) who showed me this Christian life was something to be lived and walked through, not just to observe and listen to pretentious speeches. And that would be my youth pastors when I was teenager, and my mom. They are the ones I can point back to and say they made an impact on me choosing to truly seek God for myself, to truly believe in Him. And not only that, but they lived what they taught. And I was able to witness that. That's what really made all the difference. I'd also include teachers like Andrew Wommack and Bill Johnson in that category even though I've never met either. They have preached the word in a way that really makes me think and evaluate my life and if I'm walking in the power of God. I'd also include Katt Ker. I'll be honest, I'm uncertain of her prophecies right now, but her insight into heaven has wakened my imagination to consider things about God that I haven't before. About what is possible when it comes to living for God.

Who do you consider to be Spiritual Parents in your life? Do they live up to the ideal Paul has set with the Corinthian Church? What other considerations do you make when claiming someone as a spiritual parent?

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