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. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 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." 1 Corinthians 4:15-17 NKJVThe Apostle principle: Fathering/Mentoring is of primary significance with its lack in the church and in the family. The lack of fathering and mentoring has yielded some of the most devastating results. It is with the return of the apostle principle that stability, strength and power returns to churches and families-that are so desperately in need of-restoring honor, integrity and purpose to the role of man and function of the father naturally and spiritually; no longer allowing sons claimed as negative statistics.
The role of a father should never be undervalued or underestimated. This role of a father and mentor is significant, essential and paramount to development of our churches and children; especially the young men. Manhood is in a fight to survive to be as God created it. It will take men being men-finding their purpose and place through the word of God, being affirmed and mentored not only naturally, but spiritually by other experienced, proven men of God. Paul says, "Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." 1 Corinthians 16:13 NASB. Men need to learn what it means to act like men. To do this, we not only need fathers, but we need to be fathered in what God desires for men.
The Model Relationship
The principle of fathering and mentoring comes from the heart of God. God through His Word reveals Himself to us-His character, His nature and His heart as a father. It is within the Word of God, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit that we understand and find our role, place, function and purpose as men.
Our relationship to God as sons-by design has always been modeled from the Word of God through the relationship structure of the family. It is within the relationship of son to father that either a true or a perceived nature of God is demonstrated or revealed.
The principles of fathering and mentoring are learned through demonstration, example, and impartation. The lack of such a model relationship will bear fruit of confusion, frustration and hurt with the effect creating a vicious cycle when left unchecked and unchanged. The devastating results not only affect this generation but will also affect generations to come.
Role of an Apostle
Before we can rightfully apply the principle of the apostle to its intended purpose and design, let us understand the role of the apostle. The role of an apostle was to be a spiritual father, mentor, and leader. One of the best examples of this was the relationship between the Apostle Paul and Timothy. As a spiritual father to Timothy, Paul demonstrated the following:
- Instruction (1 Timothy 1:3)
- Encouragement (1 Timothy 1:18)
- Affirmation (1 Timothy 1:2)
- Empowerment (1 Timothy 4:11, 2 Timothy 4:1-5)
- Desire for Timothy to fulfill his potential (2 Timothy 1:5-9)
- Lived as an Example (1 Corinthians 4:15-17)
- Multiplication: Timothy to mentor as he was mentored (2 Timothy 2:2)
Where have the fathers gone? There is no shortage of men, but there is a shortage of apostles and fathers and we are seeing the devastating effects in our churches and in our homes; the direct opposite is true when we have men functioning in their role with strength and purpose as apostles and fathers. The results are unequivocal.
The role of a father fulfills a basic human need in all of us. When the father is absent, the need is looked to be substituted. Here are some statistics that show the impact:
- 9 of 10 inmates in jail are men
- 9 of 10 on death row hate their father
- 9 of 10 juveniles are boys
- All school shootings were carried out by young men
- 5 of 10 boys will graduate high school without their father at home
- Psychiatric Problems. In 1988, a study of preschool children admitted to New Orleans hospitals as psychiatric patients over a 34-month period found that nearly 80 percent came from fatherless homes.
- "Father hunger" often afflicts boys age one and two whose fathers are suddenly and permanently absent. Sleep disturbances, such as trouble falling asleep, nightmares, and night terrors frequently begin within one to three months after the father leaves home.
- Fatherless aggression: In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed "greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households."
- Fatherless children -- kids living in homes without a stepfather or without contact with their biological father -- are twice as likely to drop out of school.
- Seventy-two percent of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers. Sixty percent of America's rapists grew up the same way.
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
- 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control)
- 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978.)
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
- 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for all God`s Children.)
- 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
- 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992)
Turn the Tide
Turning the tide is a process of recovery-recovering the principle of fathering and mentoring. Where does this process begin and end? This process is not a succession of steps that have and end, but is to be lived out throughout your years as a man and begins the day you relinquish control to the Holy Spirit allowing him to reveal God's father heart to you. No matter at what stage of life we are as men, we must be in a place that we allow ourselves to be fathered and mentored in both spiritual and natural things. Life is a constant progression with death beginning when we no longer have the capacity to grow and learn. When we open our heart to God for this purpose, we allow the supernatural to become natural made evident by the Holy Spirit. This begins with humility. Other things that we as men must understand within this process of turning the tide:
- Fathering and mentoring is done through relationship
- Time can never be substituted
- It requires investment into people
- It requires servanthood
- You can do it
- You are never alone
- The word of God is our guide
Remember that the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy and this begins with his target on our families and our churches. Remember these words from Paul,
"Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." 1 Corinthians 16:13 NASB.
Men have an effect on their children and it is profound. It is our choice whether that will be positive or negative.