On Being a Spiritual Father

Introduction:

This is my final sermon as your pastor. It has been a wonderful joy to preach and teach the Word of God to you, His people. In Acts 20:17-30 Paul gives his farewell message to the Ephesian church.  In Acts 20:27 Paul shares: For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. The ESV translates this as I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole council of God. I hope and pray this has been true of me with you. I love teaching the Bible and I hope that has been made evident. I hope you have learned more Bible over the last six years. The church does have a pulpit, figuratively, not literally. The pulpit represents the preaching of the Word of God at the local church. Each of us pastors are accountable to God for this responsibility. I have carried this responsibility for just over six years. Pastor Gordon carried this ministry for seventeen years. The responsibility is heavy. It has been compared to a woman having a baby. It is heavy because there are spiritual dimensions, spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-12). It is a 24×7 job. We preach and sit down and then wait for the pressures from Sunday sermon to kick-in. A lot of pastors talk about how hard Mondays are because they are hit from the Sunday morning pressure and reflection. There are articles written to tell pastors how to manage this post pulpit day. I prefer to simply eat chocolate and then I feel better.

God will lead you an interim and then another pastor to handle this pulpit ministry and I pray they also follow God’s instructions to declare the whole council of God. I appreciate and have been greatly honored to serve as your pastor these last six years. It has been a privilege to serve under the Lord in this pulpit ministry. Now, I preach my last sermon to you. Later, we eat chocolate.  

The church needs boys, the church needs men, the church needs dads.

John Fuller of Focus on the Family writes the following:

The United States is the leader in fatherless homes. The impact is breathtaking: 63 percent of youth suicides come from fatherless homes, and 75 percent of all adolescent patients in drug treatment centers come from homes without a dad. In his book It’s Better to Build Boys than Mend Men, Truett Cathy offers these startling statistics:

Children from fatherless homes are:

  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
  • 9 times more likely to end up in state-operated institution.
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison[1]

Wow! Those statistics are quite startling. So, obviously fathers are important, we have an important role in the development of children.

But the reality is there are many children without a father. There are many children without a spiritual father. In the Bible Timothy was one of those children. He needed a spiritual father and Paul took care of that job.

Theme: I want us to look at Paul serving as a spiritual father to Timothy. I encourage you to take seriously your role as a spiritual parent. Make disciples of young people.

Let’s read Acts 16:1-3:

Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

  1. Let’s talk about Paul and Timothy.
    1. We just read Acts 16:1-3 and in that passage we see that Paul met Timothy and was obviously impressed. From this passage we see that Timothy’s mother was Jewish but his father was Greek. Paul wanted to take him along. From all indications Timothy’s father was not a believer in Jesus. After this Timothy goes with Paul. We see Timothy show up much in Paul’s letters.
    2. In 1 Tim. 1:2 Paul writes To Timothy my true son in the faith… Paul compares Timothy to a spiritual son.
    3. Then in 2 Timothy 1:2 Paul again writes: To Timothy, my dear son… Again, we see Paul and Timothy’s relationship.
      1. They had likely traveled together for 10 years.[2]
      2. They obviously had a special bond. 1 and 2 Timothy are written to Timothy from the Apostle Paul while Timothy was serving as the interim pastor in Ephesus.
    4. Then, one more passage I will show you. In Phil. 2:22: Paul writes: But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.
  2. Let’s talk about serving as a spiritual parent.
    1. What is this like?
    2. It is not meaning simply going fishing together, though spiritual advise can be passed on during a fishing trip.
    3. It is not meaning simply activities. I am not talking about simply hanging out with someone younger than you.
    4. This is talking about discipleship.
    5. This is about mentoring someone younger than you in the faith and in the ministry. The Gospel is at the center of serving as a spiritual parent. However, understand the Gospel must be at the center of being a parent. Look at Deut. 6:1-9: These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
    6. Serving as a spiritual parent does begin with a relationship with someone younger than you, but it continues as you study the Bible together. As you model what it means to be a man or woman of God. Serving as a spiritual parent continues as you are going fishing or hunting or cooking together, but in doing so you are modeling and teaching how to be a man or woman of God. You are modeling service to the church. You are modeling and teaching evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry and fellowship. Being a spiritual parent means that the Gospel is everything.
    7. If we do not teach our biological children the Gospel we have taught them nothing worthwhile. If we have relationships with others younger than us but we do not teach them the Gospel we have taught them absolutely nothing worthwhile. They die and it is the end of anything good.
    8. My youth pastor was my spiritual father. He was older than my father and he was living for Jesus and my father was not. He discipled me as he taught me the Bible but he also discipled me as we served the church together, we had lunch together, we worked together. He modeled integrity and Christian values. I remember going with him to pick up an old truck he was restoring. The man was signing the title over and said, “How much do you want me to put down that you bought this for?” This was because you have to pay taxes on every dollar so the seller was willing to just put down a dollar. My youth pastor had him put down the correct price. He modeled integrity. He modeled service. He modeled being a Christian father and grandfather.
  • Application: Serve as a paternal influence to others.
    1. Who has God places in your life for you to serve in that paternal influence role?
    2. Right down a name in your bulletin and take it home and pray about it.
    3. This may be your children and grandchildren.
    4. I know of someone who speaks at the men’s fellowship breakfasts. He talked about having a Bible study with his grandsons. He would buy donuts and meet them on Saturday mornings to study the Bible. Could that be what God is calling you to do?

Close:

I read the following:

Truett Cathy is probably best known for his Chick-Fil-A restaurants, and while I like the food he helped make popular, I’m most appreciative of the work he does to help boys who face the prospect of growing up without a father.

Mr. Cathy has been mentoring youngsters for more than sixty years. He runs a camp and a foster- care program designed to help give children of broken homes a second chance at life. It’s an inspiring program. Boys are matched with mentors and father figures, and some are even placed in full-time Christian foster homes. Many are given the opportunity to work side by side with Mr. Cathy on a beautiful farm in the rolling hills of Rome, Georgia.

Truett Cathy is a well-seasoned Southern gentleman. But he’s more than a nice guy with business savvy. He knows how boys think. Most important, he knows what they need: a father or— at the very least— a strong male role model. Mr. Cathy travels the country with a simple but strong message: you can make a difference! It’s better to build boys than to have to mend men.[3]

So, next time you complain about the next generation, pray. Pray that God would send you a young person to serve as a spiritual parent.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

[1] John Fuller with Paul Batura. First Time Dad, the Stuff You Really Need to Know. Moody Publishers, Chicago 2011. Page 22

 

[2] See George W. Murray, “Paul’s Corporate Witness in Philippians,” Bibliotheca Sacra 155:619 (JulySeptember 1998):316-26. Seen in Dr. Constable’s notes on Phil. 2:22: http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/philippians.pdf

[3] John Fuller with Paul Batura. First Time Dad, the Stuff You Really Need to Know. Moody Publishers, Chicago 2011.

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