It is undeniable that we have a family crisis in our country, including the problems of family feuds, dysfunction and abandonment. The culture has redefined family, and now considers that having a father is merely good, but not necessary. That skewed understanding of fatherhood has also deeply affected our churches. God has given all humanity not only the concept of the nuclear family but of fatherhood. God has additionally given the church the model and practice of spiritual fathering, where the spiritual father creates spiritual generations. The gifts of spiritual fathering are:
1. The Gift of Absolution. Absolution means forgiveness, and if a father does not forgive, then the child grows up believing they can never please the father. Jesus, our role model, was always extending the gift of absolution, so that believers would not be spiritually weak, troubled or ineffective.
2. The Gift of Affection. The Apostle John illustrated the gift of affection to his spiritual generations with words of endearment, compassion and confidence. Spiritual fathering, while sometimes requiring rebuke and correction when necessary, primarily involves support and encouragement.
3. The Gift of Authority. Whether in the home, workplace or church, all of us need a voice of authority that provides direction, boundaries and permission. We all need a respected and trusted voice in our lives to keep our thoughts and deeds aligned with God’s path.
4. The Gift of Affirmation. A good father tells his children ‘you can do this.” This fosters their sense of believability, likeability, confidence and competence.