There is much misinformation that misleads people in the area of apostles and fathers in the faith! I hope the misinformed will not continue misleading people, no matter how well intended they may be.
Just because someone is an apostle does not make them a father in the faith. There are a lot of apostles leading ministries and movements who are still children in the faith, and manifest childishness in their daily lives. If you are a genuine apostle you will genuinely grow up.
Even Paul, who was called an apostle from his mother’s womb, said he had to grow up spiritually. In fact, he said after he grew up he still had to make a decision to act grown up!
“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11
Paul did not say when he became an apostle he put away childish things! He said when he became as man he put away childish things. One manifestation of childishness is the need to be needed. Needing attention is a core value of someone who is immature, insecure, and suffering identity and image issues. There are an abundance of leaders who serve for what they need which proves they are still in the childish, carnal, self-centered, self-absorbed level of maturity.
Just because someone is not an apostle does not eliminate them from being a father in the faith. There are a lot of believers with no 5 fold office call on their life who have matured to fatherhood. Some have had a great impact on my life as I developed as a disciple of Christ.
Maturing into fatherhood is the call to every believer in Christ, regardless of their call, mission, office or lack there of! And at the father level of maturity the person is not interested in their personal needs. Their need is to pour their life out for and into a person who needs mature leadership and direction to help them become a mature adult.
“You are to become perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” applies to all the disciples of Jesus of all ages! Perfect means perfect, not just mature and complete!
Fathering requires running with the person needing fathering in close enough proximity to monitor their progress, without impeding their personal creative expression. This allows the person being fathered to keep their eye on the father but not be encumbered as they run the race set before them.
The person needing fathering must be willing to enter into and embrace the process fathers put them in to develop them into a mature believer. The acceptance of that process verifies the person voluntarily accepts the person fathering them. If the person needing and or wanting fathering in their life constantly complains or resists the person and their process, they prove they are not ready for, or interested in genuine development as a disciple of Christ.
Every believer should look for and find someone who can father them without them needing to call them “father,” or the father being called their “father.”
Jesus said, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” Matthew 23:9
If a “father” needs to be called father to feel adequate, or accepted by the ones they are fathering, then that father has some serious father issues.
I think some who call themselves apostles need to quit worrying about who is, and where are the apostles. If God calls someone to the office of an apostle then God is handling that apostle’s progress into Their purpose! And if God wants one apostle to align with others He is perfectly willing and able to arrange that connection.
I believe there are apostles who take out of context Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 4, “14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.” Paul would reiterate the “imitate me” instruction later in chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians.
Paul did not say the Corinthians did not have many “apostolic” fathers. He just said they had an abundance of people teaching them, not fathering them. This tells me there is a difference in those who teach and those who father. All fathers teach but not all teachers are fathers, even to those they teach. Fatherhood is a maturity level and function, not an office or title. There is no office or title called fatherhood, except in the Catholic Church, which connects apostolic succession to fatherhood! This is, and should be rejected by all believers everywhere.
In addition, Paul, who operated both as an apostle and father to the Corinthians believers, demonstrated apostolic and fathering discipline when needed to those who chose to follow [imitate] his discipleship core value of following [emulating] the lifestyle of Christ Jesus. Purity is paramount in the development of a maturing disciple [son or daughter] of Christ. Discipling a person to Christ is the same as discipling a person to Father God. “The Father and I are one.” Biblical fathering has everything to do with modeling Father God to the person being fathered so they will become like the Father who is perfect.
“Follow [imitate] me as [in the same way that] I follow [imitate] Christ [the ultimate leader]” should be the standard every kingdom leader lives by. Paul is saying he was following Christ so that he could lead people to Christ. All kingdom discipleship has that core value or it is not kingdom discipleship. Christ is the
Good gracious, Paul said he received, accepted, embraced, and developed his apostolic call, mission and revelatory message apart from the apostles in Jerusalem. He said it was developed on his sabbatical in Arabia.
“11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. 18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.”
If Paul were alive today he would not be accepted into some apostolic brotherhoods by some of those who see themselves as the brotherhood’s gatekeepers. Paul went to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and James, not to surrender his apostolic credentials to them.
I think some modern ministers who consider themselves apostles, see themselves erroneously in that select group of original leaders who were called to the closed, select community of the apostles of the Lamb!
All the apostles, even the original 12 called personally by Jesus, volunteered their ministry connections! And the 12 did not require obedience to them as a qualification into the post apostle of the Lamb apostolic office. The nonsensical heresy called “the shepherdship movement” was debunked in the 1970’s. I am concerned some of its tenets still exist and its tentacles are still reaching out trying to entrap unsuspecting saints.
Honor and respect does not require connection or obedience! It is given and received voluntarily! And for that matter, submission is voluntary too. If someone demands submission run as fast as you can. That is called slavery!
Everyone should focus on their personal relationship, call, mission, mandate and message with the Apostle and High Priest of our confession who died, was raised, ascended, and called us into our respective relationships, call, mission, mandate and message for Him.
“Do not think more highly of yourselves than you ought” is a really good verse right now! Especially for apostolic fathers!
In conclusion, if you need a father figure in your life look for one who will look for your loyalty, not require your loyalty. Again, loyalty cannot be demanded. A father who looks for loyalty more than likely will demonstrate loyalty to you. Loyalty is discovered in disagreement just like faithfulness is discovered when there are other options to choose from. If you want and need someone to father you, you must accept the responsibility of being a child [son or daughter]. That responsibility includes but is not limited to recognizing and admitting you do not have all the answers and you volunteer to be parented.
Dr. Kevin M. Drury, DMin