Mentoring says, "Teach a man to fish, and he'll have food for life". Fathering says, "Your floor is my ceiling, so wherever I am, is where you begin'. Both are good, but I believe one is a better way.
The apostle Paul wrote, "After all, though you should have ten thousand teachers [guides to direct you] in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the glad tidings [the Gospel]. So I urge and implore you, be imitators of me." (1 Cor 4:15-16 Amp).
Wow! I see two incredible pillars of wisdom here! First, (1) Paul caught a revelation that the heart of God is the heart of a Father. Second, (2) Paul had the boldness to implore others to follow His example as He followed Christ!
Where did he get this level of boldness to speak such a courageous statement. In a Bible study earlier tonight, the question was posed, "Can anyone here say to follow 'my' example?" Everyone reluctantly shrunk back. We discussed how being perfect is impossible, because only Christ is perfect. We also talked about how the bible teaches to never trust a man without a limp. Jesus taught that we should walk with humility and transparency. Perhaps this is why Paul could say this. He wasn't perfect, but he knew how to walk with God and how to consistently pursue God fervently. I believe that If he failed, he repented quickly and got back up.
What's interesting about the early apostles is that they were men and human beings just like us. My point here is that if Paul could do it, so can you and I. Can we live a life in such a way that we can encourage others to follow our example? The answer is yes!
If we are willing to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8), admitting our weaknesses and confessing Christ's strength in us, then YES!
Why is this important?
There is a generation of people who have grown up without fathers! A father represents strength, provision, covering and protection. For a young boy, he looks to his Father to learn how to be a man, and for acknowledgment that he is good enough. For a young lady, she looks to her Father for acceptance, value, and as the protector of her beauty and virtue. Without a father, a young person will often wander looking to have these qualities affirmed in all the wrong places (and unfortunately, from the wrong people).
Making disciples is not about making disciples of ourselves, but rather, making disciples of Christ.
The intention and motivation behind what we do in the process should always be love. Love, will of course, always have the best interest of God, and of the person at the forefront of our 'why'.
Jesus said to Peter, "Follow Me, and I will make you a fisher of men". He then took 12 guys, poured into them for 3+ years, day and night, nurturing and developing their spiritual life and teaching them to have relationship with the Father in Heaven. After he was crucified on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins and put in a grave, the power of God raised Him from the dead after 3 days. He then went to the disciples and told them:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
What did the disciples do? They changed the world! Are you willing to do the same?
Father disciples, and father change. One disciplined follower of Christ can create history and bring healing for generations to come.