Spiritual Parenting

Parenthood is a rewarding, demanding whirlwind of investing in another person to the end that they mature into an adult and eventually a parent themselves. Spiritual Parenting is a close parallel. You are investing in someone else and walking the path toward maturity in Christ. You are helping, cheering, grieving, teaching, leading, coaching, exhorting, rebuking, encouraging and celebrating as Jesus works in them, growing them toward maturity. In many ways, this is the most demanding and rewarding phase of spiritual development. Your greatest impact for the Kingdom will come during this time. Your highest joys and deepest sorrows will also come during this phase. Your deepest dependency on Christ and your richest rewards also all come as you spiritually parent others.

Spiritual Parents Are:

  • someone who has come to know new life in Christ, having been born again by the Holy Spirit, has an assurance of their adoption into God’s family, is living consistently in the light of Jesus’ instruction and example and is invested in seeing others grow to the same place in maturity
  • someone who knows the deeper implications of the faith and has familiarity with the Bible and Christian doctrine and can teach (with life and lesson) these things to others
  • someone who has a consistent application of the Bible to life and is able and committed to helping others grow in life application

Key Characteristics:

  • Christ- centered; they are seeing the world through the lens of Jesus and His Kingdom.
  • Actively engaged in cultivating spiritual growth in the people around them
  • Are consistently seeing people develop from pre-Christian to spiritual parent because of their investment and sacrifice

Milestones to Aim for:

  • Have a leadership role in a small group with disciple-making in mind. Spiritual parents are always asking, “How can I help, ______ (person being discipled) take the next step in knowing and doing life more like Jesus?”
  • Inviting others into ongoing, gift-oriented service. You are actively using your spiritual gifts and calling others to discover and develop their own.
  • A thorough knowledge of the Bible and how to apply it to life. Consistency in self-application and a thoughtful and helpful approach to seeing others apply it as well.

Cautions/Pitfalls:

  • Dependent Disciples. The danger of caring and nurturing someone else is that they become dependent on YOU rather than on CHRIST. Especially early on in the process (think infancy) this is a hard call to make. Are they depending on me or Jesus? As a rule, as development is happening, they should be more and more turning to Jesus first and foremost and coming to you second.
  • Owning too much or too little. Dependence on Jesus is the end goal and truly the only way through the process for both spiritual parents and those they disciple. There are ditches on either side of this narrow road. One is when too much rises and falls for us on the progress of those we are discipling. You can easily become over invested and feel that the failure or success of your disciple is primarily because of you. Here is the key, they are responsible and equipped for growth in Christ. Your job is nurture and investment to that end. Ultimately they have to, by the Holy Spirit’s empowering, grow. The flip side of the same coin is a spiritual parenting that has almost no ownership. “Sink or swim, spiritual kid, my job is just to throw you in the deep end of the pool.” This of course lacks the proper affection and caregiving. Jesus and Paul clearly model deep affection and care for disciples who are in process, so should we.

Key Memorization Verse: 3 John 1:4

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