[1Co 4:14-17 NKJV] 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. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
What does it take to see business planting movements and church planting movements happen among the unreached? One key element is raising up fathers and mothers.
On his first visit to Corinth, Paul met Aquila and Priscilla. Because they were of the same trade, he stayed with them and they worked together as tentmakers (Acts 18:1-3). He reasoned in the synagogues with the Jews and later in houses with the Gentiles. Out of their efforts several churches started. The Corinthian church had a lot of problems later on. They were greedy, committed sexual sins and performed all kinds of other sins. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds them of the gospel and corrects them. He states that there might have been other instructors, but that they don’t have a father. Other instructors might have been other local or visiting teachers. That is good, but Paul says it’s not about teaching alone; it’s about being a father.
What does a father (and mother) do for their children?
In the first letter to the Thessalonians Paul writes: [1Th 2:7-12 NKJV] 7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing [mother] cherishes her own children. 8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.10 You [are] witnesses, and God [also], how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father [does] his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
A mother is gentle and cherishes her own children. A father is longing for his children. He doesn’t only teach the gospel, he shares his own live. He lives out the gospel. He is not a burden to the other people, but he serves. He is an example and shows Christ. He behaves in a holy manner and he exhorts, comforts and charges his own children in the ways of Christ.
When raising up church, movement and business leaders, Paul challenges us to not only “teach”, but to become deeply involved in the people we are working with and to become fathers and mothers to them. Our challenge is to be gentle, exhort, comfort and charge the people we are working with.
In the church planting and business planting we are doing, we put a high emphasize on one-on-one coaching. Coaching is discipleship just the way Jesus and the apostles did it. It means being a father and a mother to the people we coach.
How can you become a father or mother for the leaders you are investing in? Below I will give you some practical steps how I do it:
- I spend time with the Father, in which I ask Him to reveal His father’s and mother’s heart to me. I do this by prayer and reading Scriptures about the Father’s heart (e.g. Rom 8, 1 John 4:18, Mat 3:17). When I am filled with Father’s love, I can give out to our people.
- I have created a Relational/Oikos map that consists of one piece of paper where I have mapped out the people I am investing in. I keep this in my journal/bible and take this out and pray regularly for these people. Recently I also created an online version on Mindmeister (free Mindmap software).
- I send messages to our leaders regularly to ask how I can pray for them.
- I set up times to talk, where I listen, encourage, comfort and exhort; the encouraging part is especially important. People are weary and need encouragement every day. I want to follow Barnabas his example and also would love to be called the Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36).
- I travel with and share life together with them. We go on apostolic trips to different nations to share Jesus, train others, plant churches and businesses.
One of our people shared this about the effect coaching has had of her:
“Having a coach has helped me to clarify my vision and avoid possible pitfalls. My coach is able to provide me with wise expertise, emotional support and encouragement as I process the new experiences that I encounter. I am growing in courage, excellence and the speed with which I achieve my goals because I am consistently encouraged and supported to ‘go for it’ and take risks.”
Let’s become fathers and mothers and raise up others!