From the desk of Steve Shultz:
This is a second article in a series Catherine Brown wrote on the Self-Parenting Generation. Like I said before, if you are called to be a spiritual mother or father – this is a must read! Catherine's latest article is full of Fatherly wisdom and is very practical in nature. The Body most definitely needs many more mothers and fathers for the coming harvest and the next generation rising.
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Characteristics of True Fathers and Mothers of the Faith
Following on from my previous article on the Elijah List, we will consider some aspects of what the "self-parenting" generation may look like. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but rather a point of contact for our hearts and minds to engage with the Holy Spirit. May God grant us wisdom and revelation by His Holy Spirit and add to our understanding.
When the "self-parenting" person becomes responsible for the well-being of others, provision for those entrusted to their care is extremely high on the agenda because they have had to learn to provide for themselves most of their lives and they know what it is to struggle and do without. Care must be taken by such an individual to avoid operating in a poverty mindset, which I will define simply as the fear of not having, or the fear of losing. Operating in a poverty mindset is not about the amount of money or resource one does or does not possess. It is about the fear of not having or losing. We are called to walk in favour, abundance, and blessing and to exercise faith in the belief that there is no lack in the Kingdom of God. Our Heavenly Father is willing and able to lovingly provide for all our needs.
Whilst wanting to provide for others, especially one's physical or spiritual children, and is an admirable quality, there is a fine line between being a provider who trusts God for provision in order to be a wise and godly steward vis-a-vis becoming a caretaker, i.e. a person who potentially may become over-burdened by taking on the role of absolute responsibility for provision for others.
God alone is our ultimate source of provision and blesses us with grace and wisdom for stewardship of what He provides. When a person unwittingly fills this role of caretaker, it is an example of independent thinking, self-sufficiency and self-reliance rather than God-reliance. Such personality traits can lead to false burden-bearing and potential burnout in life and in ministry.
I believe Apostle Paul understood this dilemma when he spoke to the Church in Corinth, that in their lives they may have 10,000 guardians but very few fathers (1 Corinthians 4:15). To father another in the faith is the most beautiful privilege, and one which we should cherish and treat with wisdom and deep reverence before the Lord. However, we should also note that whilst all spiritual fathers/mothers are mentors, not all who mentor are called to be spiritual fathers/mothers.
For the self-parenting generation, nurturing others is most likely less of a priority than providing for others. This is as a result of there being insufficient (or total lack of) personal nurturing at the early developmental stages and when growing up. Sadly, no one has taken the time to develop them fully and so the ability to develop others has to be learned in adulthood under the training of the Holy Spirit and by spiritual parents investing in them. If nurturing others does take place at all prior to such Godly intervention, then it is usually more from a "training for task" perspective than from a "leadership development" approach, whose chief aim is to raise spiritual sons and daughters, through which God will advance His Kingdom on earth.
Once again we see echoes in Scripture of our Heavenly Father's love in Apostle Paul's words to the Church in Ephesus. As he earnestly prays for the Believers, we see the man of God on his knees before the God of all creation, praying from a revelation of Father's love for the ones he is privileged to serve.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in Heaven and on earth derives its name. Ephesians 3:14-15
Paul understood that God the Father's love is the key to unlock all healing and all Kingdom potential within every Believer, and so must we.
The message of generational succession embodies the idea of "passing on the baton," i.e. passing on one's spiritual legacy to the next generation. However, where spiritual parenting has been absent, there is no model for children to follow. It is an obvious thing to say, but in order to pass on a baton, it must first be received. We cannot give to others what we have not yet comprehended or received ourselves. In other words, a fatherless, self-parenting generation cannot possibly know how to father the next generation unless they themselves are fathered.
However, when God's grace brings revelation of His Father's love to our lives, we are then able to apply faith to appropriate the spiritual blessing. In this case, the blessing relates to being valued as a son/daughter, which in turn relates to raising others up as spiritual sons and daughters. True fathers/mothers run with their children in the race of faith, teaching them the value of being loved as their child. When we comprehend we are valued as a son (or daughter), we then place value on sonship and raising other sons in the faith.
The self-parenting generation can be lonely/insular, isolated, and often tend to "go it alone." As a consequence, they may struggle with working in a team and/or delegating to others, simply because they have always had to do things for themselves. There may also be issues of jealousy with siblings, or a tendency towards developing relationships that are co-dependent. A co-dependent relationship is an unhealthy relationship based on "need," and often occurs between people who have suffered trauma and experienced difficult circumstances in life. Such a relationship produces a debilitating cycle of victim/accuser/abuser when demands are not met by the people involved in the relationship. It is soulish and can become oppressive, manipulative and emotionally, physically and spiritually destructive.
The Lord's desire for us is that we have godly relationships led by the Holy Spirit based on His covenant love that bear good fruit and which serve His purposes in each other without making soulish demands on the other person.
However, with the right type of encouragement and nurturing, this can be turned around. We see evidence of healing in the life of Moses, who was able to work alongside his brother Aaron and also able to take on board his father-in-law Jethro's suggestions to appoint others to help share the leadership role. Jethro spoke to Moses out of their relationship, and Moses was able to hear and apply Jethro's fatherly advice because of this. As a result he opted out of "self-parenting" modus operandi, and became a true father of the faith by releasing others under his care with responsibility and assigned spheres of authority under his leadership.
A self-parenting generation often has issues with authority, mostly because there has been an absentee father/mother, therefore there has been no constant, true and loving authority figure present whilst the child was growing up and no godly standard of authority modeled, taught or experienced. As a consequence, the self-parenting generation does not initially know how to embrace godly authority and accountability in a way that does not feel irrelevant or more like a punishment than a blessing. To them, authority feels much more like a hierarchical imposition from above, rather than a flow of love from the relationship with our Heavenly Father and through covenant with others.
The self-parenting generation may have difficulty in trusting others. Abandonment can lead to a fear of future abandonment, and this can only be counteracted in the love of God the Father as we are established in covenant relationship and calling as legitimate sons and heirs.
Difficulty in Establishing Godly Boundaries
Due to the absence of a main family nurturer when growing up, the self-parenting generation may face difficulties in establishing godly boundaries. A father/mother helps their child to experience and develop boundaries in their own life as they are growing up through various stages of childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
The ability to establish boundaries is an important part of living a safe, well-balanced life. If individuals do not learn how to establish boundaries they may unwittingly allow predatory types to enter their lives, they may overstep their authority in certain instances, and will also not learn the importance of being able to say "no." This causes insecurity and could lean towards "man pleasing" rather than God pleasing.
The self-parenting generation has a tendency towards filtering circumstances through a rejection mindset; this is primarily because they have not fully known the affirmation of God as Father or experienced His love through a spiritual father/mother. A person's objectivity and discernment are deeply affected by rejection wounds, and subsequently, disappointments in life and in relationships become distorted and exaggerated causing a vicious, downward spiral of further rejection tendencies and wounding.
The result of such deep insecurity can mean that close, meaningful relationships are difficult, if not impossible. Nonetheless, once the revelation of God as Father is firmly established in the person's life as a spiritual reality, along with the constant love of a spiritual parent, they are able to overcome the debilitating effects of rejection through the healing of being adopted, accepted and affirmed as bona fide children of God and co-heirs with Christ.
Redeemed in Christ
When God heals the self-parenting person, He creates a wonderful, rounded, loving, capable, anointed, radical disciple of Jesus Christ, with a passion for His Kingdom and the King! Surely the healing of the self-parenting generation will release a global paradigm shift of spiritual parenting that will be part of the preparation of the Bride of Christ for the return of the Bridegroom King!
Be blessed as you continue in your faith walk with Christ.
All for His glory,
Founder/Director, Gatekeepers Global Ministries
Co-Founder, Scottish Apostolic Networking Enterprise