We Are Made to Need Each Other
Jim Hodges is Ceci’s and my spiritual father. We’re proud to be called a spiritual daughter and son of his, and of his incredible wife, Jean. For 40-plus years, they have modeled to us integrity, humility, the pursuit of wisdom and revelation, faithfulness, loyalty, consistency - and the list could certainly go on.
When we are old (we are not there yet!) and they’re cheering us on from heaven’s grandstand, we’ll still be proud to call them “mom and dad.” Only God sees clearly all that flows spiritually from them to us. I am certain, however, that any success we’ve had is due in part to their influence and impartation to us.
One of the couples we’ve been privileged to call a spiritual son and daughter is Will and Dehaviland Ford. They are amazing leaders in the body of Christ and make us proud to call them friends. Yes, friends. While the dynamics of relationships change - I don’t call Jim Hodges every week asking for advice - the bond and respect remain. My relationship with my earthly father transitioned from him being a provider, instructor, protector, sometimes disciplinarian, etc., to that of a friend. Still my dad, but also a friend. He no longer corrected me, and limited advice to when I sought it. But he was there when I needed him.
Will recently commented on sonship, insights I feel are worth passing on. (Relax ladies, “sonship” is gender-neutral in Scripture. If I can be part of Christ’s bride, you can be a “son.”) Will said:
“About 2 years ago, I was thinking to myself, ‘Ya know God, I’m in my 50’s now, and I’m sick of the “spiritual son” thing. When am I gonna be known as more of a peer with this person or that person? Advance me beyond their level so I can get out from under the “son” thing.’
“I then felt the Lord gently rebuking my pride by saying, ‘And even then, once you receive more, you’ll still be their spiritual son...a double portioned son but, nevertheless, still a son…’
“I learned a valuable lesson that day. First, not everyone God uses in your life is called to be a close spiritual father or mother to you. And, as far as those close relationships go, you don’t outgrow them. For example, while you outgrow diapers, shoes, coats and hats, you never outgrow natural parental relationships. They’ll always be your mother or father. And the same goes for some of the spiritual mothers and fathers in your life. Some (not all) spiritual mentoring relationships are meant to be a constant in your life, and you don’t ‘move on’ or ‘outgrow’ them based on your new authority, affluence or influence being greater or even less than those spiritual parents. Again, this doesn’t count for every spiritual mentoring relationship, but there are a few that do remain a constant in your life.
“These are the spiritual parents who want their ceiling to be your floor. They don’t just rebuke and correct regarding sin, they also hold you accountable to the God-given dreams in your life. They pray for you. They empower you. They dream together with you. They know and understand God, and they know and understand you. Those relationships are few and far between, and are hard to come by. Do not take them for granted.
“So, grow in God’s grace. Grow in His love and in Holy Spirit power. Outgrow pride. Outgrow selfish ambition. Outgrow the need to make a name for yourself. Outgrow spiritual immaturity. Outgrow small spiritual shoes so you can walk in new responsibility and authority. Outgrow spiritual milk, and feast on the meat of God’s word.
“Grow deeper in God. And if you’re blessed to have them, grow deeper in relationship with those spiritual parents called to be a constant in your life.
“Still a son, Will Ford.”
For those not blessed to have a spiritual parent in your life, as I have been, don’t give up. Ask our heavenly Father to bring someone into your life that can fulfill this role. And work on developing the heart of a true spiritual son or daughter. Find someone more mature than you that you can serve, and do so in some way. Who knows what God may do with the relationship.
And if you have walked with the Lord long enough to have a high level of spiritual maturity, determine to come alongside someone less mature and be a strength. Don’t major on titles - you don’t have to be called their “spiritual father” or “mother.” And don’t force it - just support, love and help them grow in their faith.
And to all I would say, honor the godly relationships Holy Spirit has given you, both in the context of a strong, biblically based congregation and outside it, as well. Take friendships to a new level; bring a spiritual element into them. Pray together. Encourage them to hold you accountable in appropriate ways, and vice versa. Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). We are made to need others.
“In the summer of 1989, Mark Wellman, a paraplegic, gained national recognition by climbing the sheer granite face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. On the seventh and final day of his climb, the headlines of The Fresno Bee read, ‘Showing a Will of Granite.’ Accompanying the headline was a photo of Wellman being carried on the shoulders of his climbing companion Mike Corbett. A subtitle said, ‘Paraplegic and partner prove no wall is too high to scale.’
“What many people did not know is that Mike Corbett scaled the face of El Capitan three times in order to help Mark Wellman pull himself up once.”(1)
Someone you know needs a little help. Lend a hand.
Pray with me:
Father, we thank You for those You have brought into our lives to be a blessing to us. May we never take them for granted. Whether they be spiritual fathers and mothers, spiritual sons or daughters, natural family members or simply friends, we thank You for them. May we love and honor them the way we should.
We pray today for those who are lonely and without the relationships they need in their lives. Please show them how to find suitable companions and friends. Heal and restore those who have suffered rejection; mend broken hearts. Be a father to the fatherless, a mother to the motherless, and a companion to the widow/widower.
And most of all, we pray for those who do not know You as their heavenly Father. Lift the veil from their eyes that causes them to not see You clearly. Give them a revelation of who You really are. If they have never heard a clear explanation of You and Your Son, Jesus, please send someone to them who can do so. We ask this in Christ’s name, amen.
We will faithfully honor the godly relationships Holy Spirit has put in our lives.
To find out more about Will Ford and his ministry/books, click here.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Edward K. Rowell, Fresh Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Christianity Today, Inc., and Baker Books, 1997), p 203.