He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
Revelation 21:7 NKJV
As you continue to explore your identity as a spiritual father, be willing to press deeper, to the true, biblical meaning of the term. We can colloquially say you are “fathering” certain individuals, but be willing to challenge yourself: is it really fathering, or perhaps discipling, or maybe just training? There is a difference between those three roles. For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers… (1 Cor 4:15a)
Each of those roles certainly has value, but let’s be really clear which role you are playing so as to “…not to think more highly of (yourself) than you ought…” (Rom 12:3b). We can stir up trouble in a God-ordained relationship by mistakenly believing we have more authority than we really do.
Are people coming to you for spiritual leadership, or training, or simply seeking the solution to a momentary challenge? Are they hoping to quench a spiritual thirst, or do they authentically hunger for the affirming honesty of a father-figure? Knowing and acknowledging these subtleties builds trust for you in the throne room of heaven. Here are some questions to consider:
- Has this person voluntarily submitted their life to your guidance?
- Do you have the right to tell them “No?”
- Do you bear witness in your spirit as to your role in their lives?
- Has the Lord given you a sense of their identity in Christ?
- Do you have a sense of their God-ordained destiny?
- Do you have heavenly insight as to how they can eventually influence those in their circle toward adopting Kingdom values?
Those are tests of fatherhood versus training or discipling.
Special Note: when a man has daughters who are properly fathered while growing up, they will have a terrific model for eventually entering into a spiritually submitted relationship with a husband. (On those occasions when their father is a renegade, or absent, we trust that the Lord will supply a surrogate, spiritual father.)
If you are a father of young girls, your assignment is to model spiritual leadership for them, shaping their character and guiding them to eventually recognize the man entitled to court them. Dating is an unbiblical concept, as it has entertainment and self-indulgence as its core purpose. It is a culturally-invented activity fraught with risk. However, courtship is biblical, as it is a season for discovering whether a transfer of spiritual leadership is appropriate – from you to the young man. The key here is to teach your young girls the rich value of covenantal relationship, rather than the cheap counterfeits offered in this degraded culture.