Sunday, June 20, 2021

Spiritual Fathers

On Father’s Day, most people honor the men that raised them. While I’m grateful for the good things mine did for me, my spiritual life was stagnant as a boy. The Lutheran church our family attended never taught us we must be born again (John 3:3, 7). It wasn’t until years later when I learned what it really meant to be a Christian.

At the time of my conversion in 1991, I had started attending Living Word Christian Center, a megachurch in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Senior Pastor Mac Hammond became my first spiritual father. Although I never got to know him on a personal level, Mac’s teachings helped me build a solid foundation on God’s word. 

Other men connected with Living Word played a part in my spiritual growth. Associate pastor Kent Otey met with me a few times for counseling sessions. The late Gary Rue was a postal worker who hosted Thursday night Bible studies at his house, which provided additional discipleship and fellowship. When I got serious about sharing my faith more, I had regular interaction with Living Word’s evangelism pastor Nick Kinn. 

Meanwhile, I learned Biblical truths from guest speakers at Living Word. Jerry Savelle was an early favorite of mine because of his sense of humor. For that same reason, I enjoyed the preaching of Jesse Duplantis and later Kenneth Copeland

One day, I visited another church and saw Mike Murdock minister for the first time. Soon I listened to many of his teaching tapes. Mike’s series “The Assignment” impacted me the most. Since then, I’ve gleaned from a variety of other preachers through their meetings and recordings. In recent years, I’ve probably listened to Rodney Howard-Browne and Perry Stone the most.

I’ve had a few Facebook friends call me their spiritual father. I’m honored that anyone would look to me as a mentor. However, I question why most of my so-called spiritual sons don’t subscribe to my monthly newsletter or respond to my teachings and praise reports. While I have a policy not to beg for money, it's nice to receive gifts from those who value my ministry. Galatians 6:6 says, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” I make it a point to send offerings to ministers who most impacted my life.

All of us should be thankful for the different people God used to help us grow spiritually. But just like natural fathers shouldn’t control their children's lives, spiritual fathers need to allow their sons in the faith to follow their divine destinies. They cannot take the place of God Himself.

“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.” - Matthew 23:9-10

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