Who can be a Father?

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Eph 4:11-13

Can any leader in the church take a father’s role? This question has several aspects to it, and I will try to answer it accordingly.

Submitting to leaders in general

If I mean by that whether it suffices to submit to the leaders of my church and the leaders of the work group I am assigned to – such as the worship team – I don’t think so. It is good Christian practice and biblically correct to submit to your leaders.

Your church leaders – I am speaking of five fold ministers – have the job description according to our verse to lead you into your ministry, to help you grow. They therefore have what it takes to do the job – fathers need the anointing to educate and bring you up, to set free your talents and giftings, thus five fold ministers are natural candidates for spiritual fatherhood. But … well, let me come back to that in a minute.

Work group leaders have a certain authority to lead you into your ministry, delegated from the five fold ministry that recognizes them in their function. They also have authority in the field they are administrating, stewarding, and bringing to life. They certainly can speak to you about all the aspects of their ministry in your life. For example, a worship leader can tell you to practice more, to dress accordingly, to visit prayer and practice times, to tell your face that you are happy during worship.

But both groups of leaders mentioned fall short of a spiritual father though – in two ways. First, God anoints a spiritual father with deeper insight into your life. He will see things nobody else does.

Submitting to just any leader

Secondly, when establishing this relationship, you give a very special person a very intimate inroad into the most intimate life issues of yours. This makes you vulnerable, receptive, and responsible for the actions necessary on words spoken by the father.

Now to the second aspect of the question whether any leader can fulfill that role. I already showed one aspect of this: certainly, five fold ministers fit the requirements. That is exactly what they were equipped for by Jesus when he ascended. I personally believe that when the bible says that they were given to lead others into their ministry and have them grow, that it is meant exclusively – in a way. These are the people that have this role, function, and anointing – for the body. But is it possible for somebody to have this role in another fashion? For certain people or certain fields of experience?

In one of his letters Paul tells Timothy to encourage older women to teach the younger ones about life. From this I derive that we all – just as we all can prophecy – can father and mother others to a certain degree. Older men, older women can be an example and a source of wisdom for others.

I hope everybody will grow to be great sources of wisdom, with great anointing to help people major and mature in life – or at least in aspects of their lives.

Establishing fatherhood

For my natural father I used to have a name: Papi. Daddy. Abba. And I called him by this name. It was a privilege, as apart from me only my brother had the right to do so. And it was a responsibility, as I represented him and my actions fell back on him.

Now I do not go around calling Peter – my spiritual father – daddy all the time. But there was a point in time some 10 years ago I established this relationship very explicitly, and Peter still has a rather large knife I gave him to – symbolically! – give him the right to cut away from me what did not look like God.

And I speak openly about it as well as reaffirm the relationship from time to time – and not only by asking whether Peter sees anything in my life I need to change.

There is no such thing as fatherhood based on quiet agreement. Well, he knows how I feel and that he can tell me whatever he wants. It does not work that way. You have to verbally express this and reach an agreement on what this relationship means for the both of you at any time. Ongoing communication.

Conclusion

A father has to be anointed. He has to have your permission. The two of you have to have a living relationship with ongoing communication.

Who springs to mind? Maybe a potential son, a potential father? Or do you have further questions?

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By Ralph Rickenbach

Accompanyist | Writer | Son of God — ideation | learner | deliberative | intellection | futuristic — I am a Gallup certified CliftonStrengths coach and a Spiral Dynamics practitioner.