Sometimes one moment will change many more.
With news of the coronavirus, it could be the moment of the next handshake or the choice of a seat at the theatre.
We trust traffic lights to control all of those who are driving, but last week I saw someone run a red light and narrowly miss two cars as a result.
That moment could have become life-changing—or life-ending—for several people.
An important moment thirty-four years ago today
What has been your most significant moment thus far?
Happily, mine occurred thirty-four years ago today when the nurse placed my oldest son, Ryan, in my arms. I became a parent that day, and that one moment has changed almost every moment since.
Parenting is a lifelong relationship, but not all of our children belong to our immediate families. Some of our children are older than we are. Most are probably close in age, and some might be much younger.
We might be parents naturally, and we are likely working hard to lead our kids to faith in Christ.
But all of us who are Christians have been called to become spiritual parents to spiritual children as well.
Who were your spiritual parents?
Who helped raise you spiritually?
If you are like me, it’s a long list. Those people were my teachers, my examples, my accountability partners, and my friends. Just this morning I was blessed to read an article a friend had written about her increased passion for quiet time with the Lord each day.
I’m coming out of an extremely busy three weeks and was reminded of my own need to seek quiet time with God for the sake of my soul rather than for the sake of a blog post or Bible lesson. I needed to be “parented” this morning and I’m grateful for her teaching.
Every Christian who has matured in the Lord will parent others in the faith. That is how God intended evangelism to work.
Who are your spiritual children?
I was teaching a passage in 2 Corinthians last week that Paul wrote to Christians saying, “ We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also” (2 Corinthians 6:11–13).
Paul told the ancient church in Corinth that he thought of himself as a parent to them, and he loved them like a father loves his kids. He asked them to love him as they would love a parent.
Paul loved the young, growing Christians in Corinth despite their ongoing attraction to the wrong influences in their lives. He told the church that it was time to mature in their faith and separate themselves from unholy things.
A spiritual parent wants the best for their children in the faith. Whom do you feel that way about today? Whom has God called you to parent spiritually?
What is spiritual parenting?
Quite often, your spiritual children are people the Lord has brought to your life who need to be born again.
There is no way we can invest our time and energy into everyone we meet. But there are some people we are called to make a greater commitment to than others.
You will sense that God has given them to you to mentor, not just befriend.
Who is watching you as an example for Christian living today?
Every good parent disciplines their kids, for their sake. We want our kids to be strong in the world, know how to behave, and know how to relate well to others.
Spiritual parents want their kids to be strong in the Lord. They need to know how God wants them to behave in the world and how to relate as a Christian to others.
Discipline is about exchanging wrong or weak behaviors for better ones. Disciplining kids is one of the toughest jobs for any parent, and the same will be true for those God has given us to parent spiritually as well.
There is literally nothing that either of my sons could do that could cause me not to love them with a deep and unconditional love. That is the love God gives naturally to every mom and dad.
One of the best ways to recognize your spiritual children is to sense a heightened concern or compassion for the person. We can’t mentor everyone, but we are called to mentor some.
Whom has the Lord caused you to think and care about at a greater level?
The difference between work and chores
Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus about the gifting of the Holy Spirit. He said, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–13).
A “saint” is a person who has received Jesus as their Lord and become a child of God.
The “work of the ministry” is the work that causes others to know, love, and walk through this life as an obedient child of God.
We are called to live like our Lord lived, “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
The spiritual teaching and nurturing we give our “birth-kids” are the chores we have been given. Chores are the work we do around our house.
Work is what we do when we leave our homes.
Which people has God called you to invest your time and Christian influence in who are not in your home?
Consider that the “work” of your ministry. You have spiritual children the Lord wants you to teach and nurture as well.
Evangelism is simply growing your family
There is a spiritual gift of evangelism, but all of us are lifestyle evangelists. Your life is the most influential sermon you preach. You witness to people all day, every day.
Has your sermon caused some people to know Jesus?
Does your lifestyle preaching help others walk with Jesus and live “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”?
All of us should have a growing family, forever.
One moment changed many more
The nurse placed Ryan into my arms and I became a parent. I will be a parent for the rest of my life. And it is my great joy to see Ryan parenting my grandkids to know and love the Lord.
We were tucking Ryan’s kids into bed this past weekend when my granddaughter said, “We need to sing our songs.”
I listened while she and her three-year-old brother sang the verses to “Amazing Grace.”
This morning, one of my Bible students became my spiritual leader.
“Kids” grow up to have children of their own. That’s how God intended it to be—naturally and spiritually.
I hope all of us, including God, will enjoy a growing family for the rest of our lives.