Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

1 June 2013

"Harlings," Sons and the need for Fathers

Since the fall, I've been extending my education at Freedom House's newly birthed school of ministry that we're calling the Freedom Training Centre.  In another year or so, I hope to be a Revered. The name and title don't really mean that much to me, but I'd like to be able to marry and bury people. It's such an amazing way to bless, encourage and impact families during a pivotal moment.

As we're just beginning this new endeavor, we've been using the ISOM (International School of Ministry) video teaching curriculum which, while quite a number of years old now, features great teaching by a wide variety of ministers.

The session that has stuck out the most to me over this whole year was taught by Larry Stockstill about the importance of raising up "sons" in your ministry.  Paul referenced Timothy in Philippians 2 this way:

"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"  
Paul "raised" Timothy in his ministry.  Timothy KNEW the heart and ways of God... through this man of God's fathering ministry to him WHILE Paul was doing other important stuff too.  Thus, Timothy had stake in continuing on the ministry that Paul started, actually cared about the continuation of work, valued the culture of his vision and worked towards the dream's prosperity.  It's how Jesus did things and its good teaching.

Showing the contrast, Stockstill referenced "Harlings".   Larry has a bit of a southern drawl so I had to quickly Google "harling" so I could appear spiritual during the discussion.  But what he meant was HIRELING.

The teaching and word came from the NKJ of John 10 where Jesus taught:

 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep"

 There is a MASSIVE difference in commitment, care and charge between someone whose real heart it is for a home to succeed... and someone who is simply parachuted in, stopping by as company, or becomes a hired gun to do a job before blowing out of town.  Why do you think job listings are usually internal before external?  Because those INSIDE already know the culture and have demonstrated care for the "clients." There is no doubt which way I want to see anything I start grow and it's how Freedom Training Centre will function in relation to Freedom House.

You can find the whole teaching in chart form here linked HERE (and it's very much worth reading)  but this whole thing has got me thinking about optimal ministry structures... and FATHERHOOD.  Optimal ministry structures are easy and fun for me to think about. Because it's thinkin'.  But fatherhood is tougher... because it requires my heart.

It's one thing to idyllically say, "Yes... I'll just father someone into xyz role," but that requires ME to FATHER.  I HAVE three kids already I start thinking.  Three kids that I ALREADY I struggle to preserve time for from our earthly, time-sucking vortex.  Then my excuses get worse.  I start thinking about the last time I tried... really tried... to father a young man into ministry.  He started, then turtled.  It usurped the optimal ministry capacity in about 6 different directions.  And it personally hurt.

So in life, too often, when things are hard... we create sub-standard easy solutions.  Like arms-length hireling scenarios where we jettison someone into a role.  And it's not THE BEST.  And its not fair for ANYONE involved.  It's also possibly, dangerously, anti-Biblical.  When people begin to lead a mission of "sharing God's love" without a "fathers heart" for the people... it's at best simply what people find in the world, and at worst something that can cut others off from participating fully in the beautiful thing you're trying to share.

Paul... wrote this to us about the difference between teachers... and fathers in 1 Cor 4:

I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I urge you to imitate me. That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go

So these days God is challenging me, and giving me the opportunity, to be a FATHER.  To be a father to my 3 kids.  To be a father to those he's bringing into my life who NEED a Dad. And to be a Father to "sons and daughters in the ministry" who I pray will grow up in our house, care for our family, and will use the GREAT gifts in them to further God's dream for our city. 

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