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Devotional Archives
(September 2, 2003)

An Instructor or a Parent?

      By Fern Horst

"For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." (I Corinthians 4:15)

It is interesting to me as I read through the New Testament to come across Paul's comments regarding his "fatherhood." Although a single man, he referred numerous times to Timothy as his son. He also referred to Titus and Onesimus as his sons. Another single man, the Apostle John, wrote that he had "no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."

They were, of course, referring to spiritual children, not biological ones. These were individuals whom they had birthed into the Kingdom of God, or nutured in their Christian growth, or worked alongside of in the Lord's work as a father and son would work together.

As a single childless woman, these comments make me stop and think. Do I have children as Paul and John did, though they were single? Surely my nieces and nephews are in a sense "my" children. When my nephew and niece were baptised this summer, their mother quoted John in her joy of seeing her children walking in the truth. But my heart also sang with joy and my eyes streamed with happy tears, to see them take this public step of commitment to their Lord and Saviour. Remembering that John was single, I felt justified in the depth of emotion I also felt.

But these dear children are easy to love and nurture. After all, I am blessed that both my siblings and their spouses are raising my nieces and nephews to serve Him. I certainly can be an encouragement and asset to their training. But without me they would still be raised to serve the Lord.

Without neglecting these precious children close to me, I must still look further into my realm of influence: who can I birth into God's Kingdom and nurture in their walk with Christ? Who can I work alongside with in Christ's Kingdom as a mother and daughter would? Who are these people God would have me be "mother" to who would otherwise have no one to birth or nurture or work with them? There are many who will instruct the young ones in Christ and give them all the right answers. But who will be as a spiritual father or mother to them?

Parenthood requires self-sacrifice. An instructor teaches for a salary; it's a job. But parenthood is a lifetime vocation that involves every ounce of one's being. And so it is with spiritual "parenting." It's a vocation we all are called to as followers of Christ, whether we have biological children or not. And the rewards are tremendous as John attested to, as there is "no greater joy" than seeing someone we have loved and nurtured spiritually walking in God's truth.

© 2003 Fern Horst

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