In between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I can’t help but think about our responsibility to be spiritual parents to others. This is not the job of pastors, it is the calling of every mature believer. In Matthew 28, we are given what is referred to as the Great Commission. This famous Scripture reveals our mission to make disciples, teaching them to follow Christ and to be doers of the Word. This not only means birthing people into the kingdom of God, but it also refers to the task of raising up spiritual sons and daughters into spiritual maturity. Here are a few tips to help us become better spiritual parents.
- Don’t force something that is just not there. Just because God has blessed you with vast biblical knowledge, deep spiritual experience and a desire to mentor others, these things don’t give you the right to mentor just anybody. There should be mutual consent for a healthy spiritual parenting relationship. You don’t necessarily have to lead someone to Christ to qualify to be someone’s spiritual parent, but the fact that you have something that someone else needs doesn’t necessitate a spiritual parenting relationship either.
- Don’t get caught up with your position as a spiritual parent. In other words, don’t allow pride to hinder you from receiving from those you perceive to be less spiritual than you are. Just because you minister to others on a fairly consistent basis doesn’t mean that others can’t hear from God and encourage you from time to time. You can still have fellowship with those you mentor. In the bigger scheme of things we are all brothers and sisters in the family of God. Don’t forget that or your head might swell.
- Don’t pretend to have an answer for everything. Your spiritual maturity does qualify you to help others, but remember that you are still growing and therefore you don’t know it all. Help others with what you know by experience, not just revelation. Speaking into the lives of others based on biblical knowledge instead of first-hand experience will only cause others to prioritize spiritual facts over living the truth. Also, if you encounter a situation that is “bigger than you,” then please be humble enough to admit it and refer others to those who are more qualified to help than you. Your spiritual mentoring relationship is about helping others, not building your ego.
- Pray for those you are mentoring. If all you do is talk to your protégés about God instead of talk to God about your protégés, God’s heart will not be revealed through you. You must have God’s heart for people if you are attempting to represent Him in spiritual relationships. Through prayer, God will show you how you can best encourage others. You can also see what God is doing in their lives so you can cooperate with Him. Your place in the lives of your protégés is to help them connect with God for themselves and effectively walk out the truth they receive.
- There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. The role of a spiritual parent is to speak up when needed and also to remain silent long enough for people to learn some things for themselves. People can’t grow spiritually by listening to others talk all the time or by relying on others to do everything for them. There needs to be opportunities to apply knowledge and time to work some things out. The goal of spiritual parenting is not the transfer of knowledge, it is the development of spiritual maturity and godly character. Too much information can be just as detrimental to spiritual growth as wrong information is. Ask the Lord to give you the ability to speak the right word at the right time to the right individuals. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and He will authorize you to speak effectively and to be silent when that is needed too.
- Use your testimony for the benefit of others. This includes sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t present yourself to your protégés as never struggling with any sins or having any problems. Let them see your tragedies as well as your triumphs. Utilize your experiences to best convey how God has made a difference in your life, how He has conveyed truth to you and how what you have learned can benefit them right now in their lives. Be open and approachable for people to ask you questions and get help with real problems, but realize that it is your responsibility to help others focus on the right things instead of majoring on the minors. And please don’t condemn others by comparing your spirituality with theirs and demanding respect. Model humility and be patient with people, especially when it comes to taking your advice. Don’t take it personal if your advice is not taken. Be mature about it because your actions speak louder than your words. You are a living epistle, so model the love of Christ.
- In order for someone to be a good father, they must first become a good son. If you desire to be a good spiritual parent to others, then you must seek to be mentored by others. Seek out counsel when you need it. Receive the wisdom that comes to you through your spiritual parents. You can only give what you have received, so be hungry for truth whether it comes directly through your heavenly Father or through those God uses to speak into your life. You will reap what you sow, so if you give to others God will put it into the hearts of others to sow into your life.
“Freely you have received, so freely give.” No strings attached. Sow into the lives of your sons and daughters unconditionally and you will reap from your heavenly Father the relationships that you need to encourage you. Be mature and look out for the interests of others. And in doing so, you will grow too!