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Spiritual fathers & their spiritual sons

The following blog, while it’s about fathers and sons also applies to a certain extent to daughters and mothers.   We fathers carry the weight of great expectations as we raise our children. We’re supposed to wear these hats among others: provider protector friend playmate coach co…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
The following blog, while it’s about fathers and sons also applies to a certain extent to daughters and mothers.
We fathers carry the weight of great expectations as we raise our children. We’re supposed to wear these hats among others:
  • provider
  • protector
  • friend
  • playmate
  • coach
  • counselor
But more fathers need to take a kind of paternal hippocratic oath – “first do no harm.” If you look at all the people walking around with father-wounds, you can see that we’re not doing so hot as a group.  
Even the best natural fathers need help. We all need spiritual fathers who help us to see the kingdom and our place in it.  And we need spiritual fathers to initiate our sons and daughters.  A natural father almost always needs help initiating his children.

The role of spiritual father is not a label to be worn – that only raises expectations and sets guys up for failure.  If someone looks up to you as a spiritual father, they’re probably looking in the rear-view mirror of life, describing how you’ve helped them come alive to the kingdom over time.  You see spiritual fathers by their fruit over a long period. 

You don’t become a son overnight – you become a son over time.  And usually the son has to pursue the father; it rarely works the other way around.  I think I chose Andrew Shearman in my heart before he ever chose me.  And while we’ve spent a lot of time with each other, I’m only now starting to do a few of the things that a son needs to do. Years from now you can evaluate the fruit.

Ultimately sons should steward their inheritance in all of its dimensions. Fathers need clarity on what the inheritance is and how to give it away or they risk raising expectations beyond a level they can support.   

There were three disciples that were closer to Jesus than anyone, but to get to that point, they had to press in to Jesus.  He may have chosen them as disciples, but they chose to pursue him and in the pursuing, became sons. “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asks Peter.

Right now I’m discipling Jeff Goins.  It’s only been 18 months – too short to say I’m his spiritual father.  We could have a blow-up and he could go away hating me, even though I’m helping him to grow at this point.  Sonship takes time. Some folks desperately want to be sons. But to become a son, you have to overcome a lot of adversity.

Sons and fathers are in covenant – they choose one another.  And they need to be honest about where the responsibility for creating context for the relationship lies.  Andrew tells people, “You have to pursue me. You have to call me – don’t expect me to drive the relationship.”  

Initially, fathers activate their disciples to kingdom reality.  Potential sons have to wake up and begin seeing with spiritual eyes before they become sons. Eventually if a son chooses to covenant with you as a father, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve prayed hard and long before you decide to drink from that cup. It’s a weighty choice. When a son stumbles and falls, you have to be there. It will take years and years before you see how real it is and if they’ve become a true spiritual son. 

Comments (8)

  • Seth

    That touched deep in my heart bro.. You have a gift with words, you sound a bit like my Lord’s voice… Christ with skin on..
    I was greatly blessed in Gainsville with you guys..
    Your blogs are my morning devotion each day…

  • since 2002, God has given me 27 adult sons, with at least 1 or 2 potentials always on the horizon.

    I could talk forever about fatherless men & their need for a father to love them, to love back, & to let us usher them into their sonship & their manhood. And I could talk even longer about how simple (but not easy) loving them can be.

    This kind of fatherhood is not something to be entered into lightly. And even though you don’t go into for what you can get, the love that can be returned by any one of these 27 sons is a heady, amazing, miraculous, & undeserved life-altering experience, as well as an astounding blessing from our Abba Father!

  • I’ve been hurt in the pursuit of spiritual fathers. The 1st attempt he never returned my letters. I was young and gave my doubts to the devil and didn’t pursue God. After I was born again I pursued another and he doesn’t return my phone calls.
    I’m still fatherless in that sense.

    Now, I’m hesitant because I don’t want to make a fool of myself in another pursuit and I don’t want to be a bother to anyone.

  • AM a son seeking for spritual father.Iam hunger to be fatherd spritualy.your website has become ablessing for me and my fellow ones here. Hope to hear from you.

  • I am a spiritualy daughter to the best dads out there. At first God had spoken to me about my spiritual dad to be. I was sacred of getting into that kind of a covenat so to say, because i had a realy bad relationship with my biological father and other men in my life. It was a really hard transition to put my guard down and allow my self to become vulnerable. God put this man in my spirit and i knew that God wanted me to go under this mans wings to help me grow spiritually. After a year or so still in prayer about it i slowly build the relationship with him and ever so i am greatful to God for bringing him in my life. There has been so much healing and i thank all the men out there who God has called to be spiritual fathers to this generation, that greatly needs this.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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