There have been many articles and books written regarding spiritual fathering and parenting. This article is different in that I am writing from the perspective of leaders who need fathers.
I have been involved in empowering leaders of leaders for several decades now, and I have been challenged in two areas in particular that relate to this piece.
First, I want to say that many high-level leaders are craving spiritual fathers, but usually they go to other, more experienced high-level leaders who are just as busy as they are! The resulting problem: often it is difficult to regularly connect with a spiritual father who is traveling the globe overseeing huge projects and has very little time and emotional bandwidth to devote to fathering leaders. Note: I am not speaking about teaching other leaders; there is a huge difference between being a teacher and a father. It is very easy to do conferences and inspire people in ways that doesn’t include one-on-one mentoring and fathering.
I believe that all leaders are supposed to go through several stages of development with the final stage of our lives (perhaps between 60-90 years old) devoted to mentoring and raising up leaders based on the model of ministry and life we have produced and experienced during the first 60 years of our lives.
However, I have witnessed many older men (in the last 20-30 years of their lives) still focused on accomplishing bigger and better things, which leaves very little time to nurture younger leaders. This is primarily because in our culture we lack the value of spiritual parenting, which includes washing another person’s feet and being committed to another person’s success! This lack of understanding results in older ministers justifying their existence merely with more and more accomplishments!
I really believe we need to come to a place where we realize our greatest accomplishments in life will evolve around making other people successful and preparing the next generation to do greater works than we have done! I have seen older leaders near the end of their lives continue to take upon themselves huge projects that should have been handed over to younger, more energetic leaders. This issue has left a dearth in the land regarding fatherhood, and sons and daughters who crave spiritual fathering!
Some younger high-level leaders of leaders I know would just as soon have a spiritual father who hasn’t even accomplished as much as them; they would just be happy to have an older, wiser leader to confide in and get input from.
Regarding myself, at times I have been frustrated over the years because I have been bogged down with the administration of managing big projects, events, and organizations which has stopped me from focusing the time I want to pour into key established and emerging leaders that God has brought into my life. This is why the past several years I have been in the process of getting out of direct management and administration of everything I am involved in, so I can have more space to be a visionary, writer, teacher, mentor and father. I have also experienced pain and frustration over the years at key points in my life because certain leaders I was looking to for advice or mentoring were rarely available to me because they were too busy conquering the world for Jesus—even though they already had built great ministry models!
(I am not saying that God cannot tell an older minister to start new ventures and projects. Also, some leaders are more wired for tasks than for personal relationships and may never be great mentors. But I believe in general the Body of Christ is missing it big time in this area.)
I hope and pray there will be more and more leaders who recognize the last and greatest stage of their lives: a stage devoted to furthering the kingdom by focusing on fathering and mentoring other leaders rather than neglecting the leaders under their care to tackle another project!
Also, I thank God that He has blessed me with a great spiritual father, Dr. John Kelly, who has devoted himself to being a spiritual father to many and has washed the feet of the next generation of apostolic leaders.
There are several others I know of who have recognized this stage of their lives that I have been blessed to know: Dr. Emanuele Cannistraci; Pastor Bob Phillips; Bishop Bart Pierce; Dr. Jack Taylor, whom many high-level leaders in the world call “Papa Jack”; Dr. Ron Cottle; Bishop Harry Jackson, who is one of the rare breed of apostolic leaders who continue to tackle huge projects while successfully fathering many; and Dr. Jose Gonzalez, who has devoted the past several decades to fathering some of the top leaders in Latin America.
Finally, leaders don’t just need conferences, books, audios, and organizational meetings; they need someone they know who cares for them, listens to them and encourages them to fulfill their calling in life.
May God give us the spiritual parents we need to truly further the Kingdom of God!