MANY TUTORS BUT ONE FATHER*
*BIBLE READING:2 CORINTHIANS 11:16-32; PHILIPPIANS 2:19-30*
*”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.” 1 Corinthians 4: 15(NLT)*
It is categorically stated in our Key Scriptural Text that we have many teachers but not many fathers in the Church. It is important to remember the significant role fathers play in the formation of both their spiritual and biological children. The following are a few basic functions of fathers and teachers:
*(1) We have many teachers but not many fathers:* Though there are countless teachers, mentors and coaches in the Body of Christ who can edify all of us, each person is only assigned one primary father for their life’s journey. *(Isa. 51:1-2)* For example, in biological families there is only one father and one mother, though a person may have grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings who impact their life. I believe when Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 4:15, he is also referring to the fact that so few saints in the Church ever continue to mature enough in the faith so as to take on the role of spiritual fathers.
Formal Bible Studies and education will never take the place of the model of nurturing leadership modeled in the Gospels, the Book of Acts and the Epistles. One of the reasons for so much disloyalty and schism in the Church is because of a lack of fathering between senior pastors and their spiritual children because children will have resentment and rebel against fathers who do not spend quality time with them. *(Mk. 3:13-14)* I believe the primary reason many leaders in the body of Christ die unsatisfied and unfulfilled is because when they look back on their lives they see that they have not left behind a legacy of spiritual children that will carry on their work. Fame, speaking at large conferences or writing best-selling books will never satisfy a person in old age like having their children around them.
*(2.) Teachers disseminate information but fathers pour out their lives:* The primary function of a teacher is to take the Revelation of Scripture and make it practically applicable for everyday living. While teachers are called primarily to spend time studying and dispensing knowledge and information, fathers are primarily called to pour out their lives to those for whom they are responsible.
A father’s primary method of teaching is through modeling excellence and wisdom in one’s life for one’s spiritual children. *(Phil. 4:9)* Fathers go by the adage “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This was the primary method Paul used to disciple Timothy, his foremost disciple. In a summation of his discipleship method, Paul reminded Timothy of “his way of life” right before his own martyrdom.
*(2 Tim. 4:10-11).* Paul defended his apostleship by illustrating his patient endurance in the midst of suffering, not by recounting his greatest sermons. *(2 Cor. 11:16-32).* Also, he not only spent for his children but he expended himself as well. *(2 Cor. 12:15).*
*(3.) Teachers are motivated by illumination but fathers are motivated by personal transformation:* In other words, what drives a teacher is the level of light he’s able to shed from the Bible in the hearts of his students. *(Ps. 119:130)* Fathers, however, are driven by the preferred outcome which is a positive change in the behaviour of their children.
*(4.) Teachers have an intellectual connection with their students but fathers have a heart connection with their children:* Teachers are stimulated when they have deep intellectual exchanges with students and congregations while teaching and preaching or while conducting question and answer sessions during informal discussions. They walk away from such encounters extremely satisfied because of the opportunity to dispense their vast knowledge. Fathers are not satisfied with such exchanges unless it also involves a long-term strategy to be involved in a process of pouring their lives into their students. This is because fathers are motivated more by a heart-to-heart connection than an exchange of the minds. Heart-to-heart connections delve into the heart, the mind, the soul and the emotions of a person. They enable a father to penetrate beyond the surface and into the real life of a son or daughter. While a teacher may get excited when a student screams “Amen!” during a great lecture, a father desires to peer into the compartmentalized life of a son or daughter with the intent to bring wholeness and integrity, so that their teachings can bear much fruit and bring their children to maturity.
*(5.) Teachers desire opportunity to teach but fathers seek opportunity for their sons and daughters to minister:* Teachers bask in the opportunity to teach, even to the point where they would do it for nothing if they had to. They are always looking for a platform to get out their vast knowledge through preaching, teaching, blogging, books, CDs, DVDs and all other forms of available media. They gauge their level of success in life by how far and wide their teachings are being heard and received by the masses. Fathers, on the other hand, do not gauge their success by the extent of their ministry platform but by the extent of the platform they prepare for their spiritual seed. They take greater pleasure being in the background while those they have poured into are bearing much fruit in the foreground. Instead of living for their fifteen minutes of fame, they live to wash the feet of their children and commit their lives to their success. Finally, while many are attempting to preach and teach a message, not too many are willing to live that message out through those they have spent years coaching into maturity for the maximization of their potential for the Glory of God and expansion of His Kingdom. Oh God, please give us more fathers indeed.
Father, I thank You for the spiritual father You have given to me. I pray You help me to be a son of consolation to him in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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