by Aaron Graham, Lead Pastor at The District Church (Washington, D.C.)
Originally Posted on November 16, 2017.
This last Sunday we had the privilege of hearing from Pastor Don Coleman from East End Fellowship and Pastor Stuart Royall from 180 Degrees Church. We had a conversation about discipleship and what it means
to be a spiritual mother or father to a younger son or daughter in the faith.
Our Scripture was 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
We were highlighting our value of being a multiplying church that develops leaders and churches in DC and beyond and how this all starts through the process of multiplying disciples.
During my freshman year at the University of Richmond almost twenty years ago I met both Stuart and Don. Don was discipling Stuart as they ministered in a under-resourced community in the East End of Richmond and then Stuart started meeting with me to disciple me weekly.
The Apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 4:15 that you may have many teachers, but you do not have many fathers. Having a spiritual mother or father in your life is a rare gift and something to be cherished.
Spiritual mothering and fathering is a great goal to reach toward in discipleship, yet the reality is that most discipleship relationships occur on the counseling and mentoring level. But we must start somewhere and the reality is that spiritual fathering relationships always start off on the teacher or mentor level. But the key is that they progress toward a deeper level of trust and maturity.
Here is a helpful framework that I’ve used when it comes to thinking about discipleship in a 1:1 context. There is:
- Counseling – this is when you meet with someone to work through a specific challenge you are facing in your life.
- Mentoring – this is when you meet with someone to learn how you can grow in a specific area of your life.
- Spiritual Parenting – this is when a relationship moves beyond just mentoring to a life-long relationship because of trust and spiritual authority the person has been given.
One of the ways you know if you have a spiritual mother or father in your life is when that person delights in your success as a son or daughter more than their own. Spiritual fathers are willing to lay down their life for their sons.
We have many teachers in life that help us learn. We have many counselors who give us advice. We have many mentors who helps us grow to reach our goals in life. But there are few spiritual mothers and fathers.
My prayer for our churches is that God would raise up men and women of God right here to help mother and father the next generation of disciples.
The huge prayer response from Sunday gave me the sense that there is a real hunger for this.
To God by the glory!