If you are thinking a year ahead, sow a seed;
If you are thinking ten years ahead plant a tree;
If you are thinking a hundred years ahead, reach your generation.
Brandon Richards, a new friend from Texas who is a phenomenal web designer (he works for Benny Hinn’s ministry as the web designer); wrote the following on his blog in response to my posting entitled, Limping Together to Change the World:
“I have to admit Brian hits a sensitive spot with me with his post. I’ve often wondered and for quite some time now, I’ve looked for someone, to use his word, to ‘limp’ with, and realized that I haven’t met anyone nor seen anyone…Where are they? [spiritual fathers] I keep hearing about them… and yet...I find myself still looking around and not seeing anyone I find that I’m being drawn closer to by God.” (emphasis added)
What I hear in Brandon’s heart—which I believe represents the heart of the emerging generation—is clearly the cry of Elisha’s heart when his mentor Elijah was taken away in the chariot of fire: “My father! My father!” (2 Kings 2:12) The verse continues, “And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.”
I hear the same sound of Elisha’s heartfelt love for his mentor and teacher, Elijah, coming forth from those within this generation. Although Elisha lost his spiritual father, numerous young adults today are still waiting for a seasoned believer to be a spiritual father or mother to them. There are many who have never experienced the companion of a mature, seasoned mentor to walk with them amidst the difficult times.
Can you identify with the heart cry of Elisha? Is there a longing deep within for the affections of the older generation? Have you ever wondered, “Where are they?”—as you cried out to the Lord for a father or mother in the Lord?
It seems that this deep, God-initiated yearning for the tutelage of the previous generation is coming forth in this hour in the hearts of the emerging generation. Just as Elisha cried out, “My father! My father!" when Elijah was taken away—so too, is God increasing the fervency of the cry for the mantle of the spiritual fathers: The culmination of their anointing, wisdom, counsel, knowledge and revelation.
Where Are They?
In 1982 several streams within the Charismatic movement converged to form an apostolic network, Network of Christian Ministries (NCM). Although its inception was glorious, it failed to perpetuate its influence beyond the seminal stage. Dr. Emauele Cannistraci—one of the founders of NCM—identified the primary cause: The failure of the fathers of the emerging network to heed to cry of the spiritual sons for fathering. David Cannistraci, author of The Gift of Apostles, highlights this heartrending story that transpired during the 4th annual gathering in Anaheim, California:
“During one fragile moment in that conference, several spiritual sons lifted up a collective appeal for the spiritual fathers to assume their roles as mentors to the younger generation of world changers. The sons were calling for a movement of the fathers. It was an awesome occasion, according to Dr. Cannistraci. Tragically, the cry was never fully answered. ‘The missing ingredient was fathers coming together with their giftings and reservoirs of knowledge, networking to pass on the legacy to the younger generation. Networking can be far more powerful if the fathers are available to the sons’ says Dr. Cannistraci. ‘Without that ingredient, a network will be short-lived.’” (emphasis added)
The sons and daughters are crying out in this hour for what the Lord has deposited in the older generation; the mantles of the Elijahs of today; the fathers and mothers. If you are of the older generation, are you willing to respond to this call as a spiritual father or mother in the Lord?
Regardless if it is a church, network, or movement, spiritual parents are absolutely essential. It is time for the spiritual fathers and mothers to embrace their calling in order to enable the younger generation to fulfill their destiny in Christ. Weigh carefully the words written by Frank Damazio, author of The Vanguard Leader, and a father to many: “Without spiritual fathers, the church cannot achieve its ultimate destiny.”
Spiritual fathering is an element of discipleship that cannot be replaced by programs or artificial substitutes that fails to bring an impartation of life from the older to the younger. The older and mature saints must carefully examine their life in order to assure longevity even beyond their lives upon the earth. Once they’ve been given their last breathe, their influence should proceed for generations to come.
This is evident in the lives of the biblical Patriarchs. Yahweh chose to reveal himself in the generations following the Patriarchal fathers as the “God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob”. This clearly demonstrates that He is a trans-generational God that desires to see the younger generation build upon what the previous generation accomplished. We must see eternity so that we may build generational legacies through the application of daily spiritual fathering.
Where are they?—This question begs the following summon: Are you willing to respond to the cry for spiritual fathers and mothers?
Today I am calling forth the older generation to take your God-ordained role as spiritual fathers and mothers in the lives of the emerging generation. As a part of the “Roe vs. Wade” generation, I personally ask for your forgiveness for the arrogance of our youth. Please forgive us for denying you access to our lives during our youth when we went about our own way. Forgive us for spurning your outstretched hand when possibly you did try to reach out to us. And, most of all, forgive us for not honoring you as our parents. We specifically repent for dishonoring both our natural and spiritual parents. We chose this day to honor our natural parents and our spiritual fathers and mothers.
I declare this day that no longer will we say, “Where are they?”—rather, we will say “Here they are!" Come forth fathers and mothers! Come forth in Jesus' name to the rightful place of honor that we bestow upon you this day. You will no longer be ostracized, but we choose to receive your wisdom, your insights, your compassion, your tears, your warmth, your sacrificial giving—and, your shortcomings. We choose to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8) so that we may learn to honor you as our spiritual fathers and mothers. We desperately need what God has deposited in you. Without your tutelage we cannot walk in the fullness of our destiny.
"Father break our hearts over the arrogance that we have demonstrated. Forgive us for even thinking somehow that we are the “Greatest Generation” ever without paying the price of sacrifice that previous generations paid. Have mercy on us. Help us to see as You see. Through your mercy, enable us to be a "living sacrfice, holy and pleasing to you" (Romans 12:1) as a generation. Let us not miss the moment to pick up the mantles of the older generation. Teach us to obey, to serve, to pursue as Elisha did.
Thank you Father that we will be able to say in the days ahead, 'Here they are!'"
In Jesus’ name. Amen.