If your goal is to become mature in Christ, then a spiritual parent is a must. I can tell you by the example of my husband and I, having our spiritual parents has helped us grow significantly in our walk together, and separately, as we strive to follow the biblical example given by spiritual parents. We believe it is by following this example, the relationship of spiritual parents/children, that we have been grown and matured much more quickly than we would if we didn’t have them in our lives.
So what role does a spiritual parent play? Our definition of a spiritual parent is a person fulfilling the role of:
- guidance counselor
- prayer partner
- sounding board
- financial advisor
- marriage counselor
- and last, but certainly not the least of these, spiritual parents set the example of Godly living.
Paul was a spiritual parent to many.
Paul writes to Titus, whom he calls his true son in the faith, speaking of the faith in Christ they both share.
Titus 1:1 says: “This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to [to strengthen the faith of] those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives.” NLT
Paul knew he was to be a role model for those God has chosen, the ones God laid on his heart to spend time with in realtionship, to help them along in their spiritual walk.
In Titus 2:1-7, Paul tells Titus “Promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely… 3. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God… 4. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children…6. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example.” NLT
The Bible has many spiritual parent/child relationships. For further examples, read:
- the story of 1 Samuel 1 – 3 as Eli is given the charge of raising young Samuel to become a man after God’s heart. Eli would lose his own family for blaspheming God, yet Samuel becomes a great judge of Israel.
- the story of Ruth and Naomi in the short book of Ruth 1-4 as Ruth learns to love God and a new country through their close relationship.
- the story of Paul and Timothy, as Paul writes Timothy a letter in 1 Timothy 1: 1-8 acknowledging their close relationship and the growth Timothy has because of himself and his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice.
Having a spiritual parent is about relationship.
Are you willing to put yourself in a relationship with an older, more mature person, to help you mature in your walk with Christ? Having a spiritual parent is about a relationship which develops over time. The desire to have a spiritual parent to lead and guide you is a natural step in the progress of maturing in Christ. God created the role of parents and children. Oftentimes though, this relationship doesn’t work. The parent in the family is unable or unwilling to fulfill their God-created role to leading, guiding, teaching, etc. Yet, the desire to have a more mature person to help you along the way is actually a God-given desire to mature in life.
For the role of spiritual parent/child to be fulfilling, it takes a willingness on the side of both to spend time together, to speak honestly and openly with each other, to allow yourselves to be vulnerable and humble. Are you willing to seek out someone, to be vulnerable, to admit your desire to have someone fulfill this role? Are you willing to spend time in developing a relationship with an older person? There is no rushing this relationship.
My search for a spiritual parent.
When I was relatively new in my walk with Christ, I sought out a spiritual mother. I went to a woman in our church whom I believed to be quite mature in her faith. I loved the way she interacted with her own grown children, I loved sitting and listening to her as she taught our Sunday school class. Yet when I approached her about taking on the role of spiritual parent in my life, she said no. Her reasoning was it wasn’t the right thing for her to do for me. I respected her decision yet still desired someone to fulfill the role of spiritual parent.
Since then, many years have passed. I have had many women come in who have fulfilled the role of spiritual parent when I needed them the most. God knows what we need and will provide when the time is right. But no one quite earned the title of Spiritual Parent because no relationship lasted throughout the years. For one reason or other, paths that crossed at one place, veered away from each other at a later time. It is only natural that lives change, people mature in their faith while others walk away from theirs. Time will not stand still nor will our lives.
A Relationship for Eternity!
My walk with Christ began over fifty years ago, or maybe I should say, the introduction to my walk. My earnestly seeking Him to be my Savior and Friend, my Lover of my Soul, began thirty years ago. It was then I placed my life into His hands and gave Him permission to do whatever and help me become whatever He desired to best serve Him. It was shortly after this when I realized I had a desire, a dream to mentor younger women. But how, unless I had an older woman to mentor me?
In the thirty years of walking this crazy walk of mine, hand in hand with my Savior, I have discovered a few things about myself. My desire has not changed, nor will it ever change. God gave me the desire to mentor younger women and when God gives you the desire of your heart, it won’t go away. Psalm 37:4 promises if we delight in the Lord, then He will give us our heart’s desire. While most people may want to believe this verse’s meaning is anything our heart desires will be ours, that isn’t the correct meaning at all. The Lord promises to give us our heart’s desire that He Himself puts within our heart. In my experience, as I learned to delight in my Lord, He was implanting a desire to mentor younger women.
My relationship with my Savior was eternal and I wanted as many young women, young mothers, to experience the fulfillment I found in Him. I started studying the Word, reading books about women’s friendships and women mentoring women, speaking to young moms about anything on their heart. I became involved in our women’s ministry team which allowed me to have a bigger and more impactful role in the lives of younger women and mothers. Yet, I always knew, I myself, needed an older mentor, a “spiritual mama” so to speak.
When I quit searching, there she was.
For the past 15 years or so, I have had a spiritual mother, but I didn’t know it. I had changed churches along the way, as most people do over time, and the first event I attended at my new church was a women’s Christmas tea. Two of the ladies were doing a scripted play about Elizabeth and Mary. I was fascinated by the woman playing Elizabeth. I had no clue who she was but felt somehow drawn to meet her. Over time I did. Sunday school and potlucks, prayer meetings and concerts put us together and gradually a friendship bloomed. I never thought to myself, “Here she is! The woman I’ve been praying for to lead and guide me! My spiritual mother!”
No, it wasn’t me asking her to be my spiritual mother nor did she come to me and try to smother me with advice. Our friendship has grown over years of time spent serving the same God, sharing the love of Christ together. Our husbands became friends too.
It was during the hardest times of our married life, when my husband and I were losing everything financially, our kids were grown and we were floundering as to our purpose in this life, we began to eagerly seek out this couple for advice or a hug and sometimes, a loving smack alongside the head that said…Get it together! Their advice and God-given wisdom they willingly shared with us, allowed Ken and I to make choices based on God’s standards and doing things His way. It was when my husband and I were making the decision to sell everything and become missionaries, to leave the life we were comfortable with, to lead a life with plenty of uncertainties, it was then I realized God had fulfilled my dream of having a spiritual mother and a spiritual father.
So would I recommend you have Spiritual Parents?
The list above, the list of what a spiritual parent can be in your life, are just a few roles our spiritual parents play in our lives. Wouldn’t you like someone to come alongside you and help you in these areas, giving Godly advice and sharing their lives and history with you?
I have nicknamed my spiritual mother “Mama S” which stands for spiritual mama (S Mama sounds silly.) This is how God works in our lives…I have a spiritual daughter, 30 years old, I am 60, Mama S is 83 and her Mama S is 97…four generations of God’s women, entwined by God’s love through spiritual parenting. I am not the only spiritual daughter of Mama S nor is she the only daughter of her Mama S! Titus 2:3 is for today. We older women must teach the younger women.
If your heart’s desire is to have a special relationship between you and a spiritual parent, my advice and I know Mama S would give you the same advice, PRAY, PRAY and PRAY. God will send you someone to lead and guide, someone whom you could talk or pray with, share your lives.