1 Corinthians 4:15 — Not Many Fathers and Mothers

MaryAnn Ward - Spiritual Fathers and Mothers

Are spiritual fathers and mothers found only within the pages of history books? I don’t think so, but they are few and far between. What does spiritual parenting look like today?

Never has the opportunity to teach and learn become so accessible. Untold numbers of teachers upload millions of videos, podcasts, and blogs to the internet daily. Thousands of these even show us how to be great fathers and mothers. If ever Paul’s words of 1 Corinthians 4:15 were true, perhaps we find their fulfillment today.

For even if you were to have ten thousand teachers [to guide you] in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers [who led you to Christ and assumed responsibility for you], for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the good news [of salvation].
1 Corinthians 4:15

Paul trained under the greatest teachers of the first century. Yet, one touch from Jesus removed him from the accelerated path of knowledge and the upper religious elite, setting him toward a better way — the way of The Father.

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The Father

Jesus prime focus was to demonstrate the Father’s heart to those who would listen and pay attention. We instinctively know that fathers and mothers form the foundation to not just solid homes but faith communities as well.

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
John 14:8-9

Jesus lived with His spiritual children for three years. These disciples saw how He “did” life, how He interacted with difficult people, and how He responded under pressure. He modeled a value system that contradicted the teaching of others. But more than anything, He demonstrated an inseparable unity with The Father — a unity He prayed we too would experience.

“…Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:21

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Fathers and Mothers

Perhaps no other word evokes more personal shame than the word “mother.” Like many other mothers and fathers, I have carried the weight of my shortcomings. Yet a couple years ago, the Lord whispered the word “matriarch” over me. He bypassed my failures as “mother,” giving me a variant without negative connotations. This affirmation sent me on a quest to discover afresh the context of mothering and fathering.

Fathers and mothers “do life” with their children. They submit to a high level of vulnerability and transparency, teaching through personal successes and failures. Teachers instruct through knowledge and information, but fathers and mothers model through intimate relationship. They pass the baton of faith to successive generations, bringing exponential increase to their efforts.

The early church didn’t just worship together. They worked together, ate together, traveled together, and served the community together. What a stark contrast to how most of us live.

God creates these divine connections, bringing strategic people into our lives at opportune times.

  • Have spiritual fathers and mothers mentored you through intimate relationship?
  • How did they walk their role out?
  • What valuable lessons did you learn?
  • Are there aspects of their godly example that you imitate?
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The Fruit of Fathers and Mothers

No other human, apart from Jesus, influenced generations of churches as much as Paul. Why? Because of his excellent teaching and debating style? No! Rather, his greatest measure of influence came by “fathering” people in the churches he established. Through intimate relationship, he modeled a faith lifestyle, language, and value system.

The generational influence of godly fathers and mothers cannot be denied. I see God again calling forth and raising up a new stream of spiritual mothers and fathers. Some of them, still in their youth, are successfully fostering others in the faith. Just as Jesus and Paul modeled the heart of our Heavenly Father, these dedicated disciples are answering God’s call and filling the gap.

God promises,

I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.”
Isaiah 44:3-4

May there be no fatherless or motherless orphans among us. May this be a time when every Christian experiences life with a spiritual father and mother, growing strong in a solid faith-family.

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Childlike! Change and Become Like a Little Child

Childlike! Change and Become Like a Little Child

The bible challenges us to maturity. Yet, without contradiction, Jesus emphasizes the importance of possessing childlike qualities in our relationships with God and others.

“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3

Simple Faith!

As a new Christian, my Sunday School Superintendent asked if I would be willing to teach a group of two and three-year old children. I quickly learned what a dozen children can do with scissors and glue in a short amount of time! But I learned so much more!

Faith Trust

Children receive and believe with open heart and hand the love of God; they absorb truth like a dry sponge.

The older we get the more reasoning and intellect can hinder us from receiving in faith God’s love for us and His gift of salvation. It seems too simplistic, too easy, for most adults. A child, however, will believe with unquestioning faith biblical truth.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6

Though fundamental to our Christian walk, having a childlike faith is perhaps the hardest to regain. Yet, it is absolutely necessary!

Joyous Expectation! Hope!

A friend related this true story of her little niece:

One day she awoke excited and asked with great anticipation, “Is today the day I get a bunny rabbit?”

Her parents had never heard her request or had in any way suggested they would gift her with a rabbit, so they were quite surprised.

Later that afternoon, she excitedly bounced into the house after school, “Is my bunny here? Did it come today?”

The next day was a repeat! She couldn’t contain her enthusiasm, “Is today the day? Is my bunny coming today?”

After school, she was anxious to play with her new pet, “Is my bunny here? Was today the day my bunny came?”

Expectation Hope

Day after day, week after week, month after month, her excitement and joyous anticipation never wavered! Every morning she was sure “today” would be the day her beautiful pet would arrive! Every afternoon, she had unwavering hope that today was “the day“.

Finally, months later her joy was complete; a little rabbit awaited her when she arrived home from school.

As the story was being shared with my friend, her young niece was giggling in an adjacent room as she played with her bunny. This story clearly illustrates the anticipation and hope that we are called to.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1

The character and nature of our Heavenly Father is good all the time! Everything He has for us is good! When we come to Him, we can expect He will respond out of His absolute goodness.

“You are good, and what you do is good…”
Psalm 119:68

Like a little child, we can confidently hope in God, the Source and fullness of all that is good. Out of His nature, He generously gives all that is good.


When our granddaughter with young, she had a fascination for all creatures, but especially ladybugs.  By spending time with a children, the wonder of creation can be re-ignited in us too.


Creation has the ability to point us to The CreatorAs a matter of fact, creation so clearly directs us to God that we are “without excuse!”

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities
—his eternal power and divine nature—
have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,
so that people are without excuse.”
Romans 1:20

We are invited to slow our pace and see God in His creation, regaining a childlike desire to know, examine and understand more fully everything around us.

God is not intimidated by our questions. He never grows weary of our curious wonder while believing Him for the impossible and unexplainable.

Simply Childlike

The next time we have opportunity to spend time with a child may we see it as God’s invitation to ask which childlike attributes He might want to revive in us:

  • vulnerability and trust
  • abandon and joy
  • curiosity and capacity to learn and grow
  • ability to forgive quickly and fully
  • love without reservation


No matter how old we may be, it is wise to regain the childlike qualities we have lost, placing our hands into the hands of our Father, and allowing Him to lead the way.

[bctt tweet=”Regain the childlike qualities we may have lost!” username=”MAWardAuthor”]


Another thought: Hebrews 11:1 “Now Faith Is”

Children and Death? How Can We Help?

Children and Death

Three random conversations over a span of four hours; all remarkably similar in context. Conversations that brought me face-to-face with the subject of children and death. Death leaves a deep imprint. Such an imprint on children will be dealt with either effectively or ineffectively. You can make the difference!

Three Conversations

First, a grandchild, now in her teens asks “What happens when you die? Does everyone go to heaven? Does it happen right away?” Death and heaven were on her mind.

Then a man in his 40’s shares how he still deeply misses a friend.  Even though it has been over a decade since his passing, thoughts and questions rise to the surface. In the conversation a striking remark, “he never fully recovered from the loss of his father.”

Finally, a young man in early adulthood tells of a rocky place in his own life. As a teen his parents divorced and his grandmother died, both in the same year. Tears flowed as he mentioned his grandmother, whom he had been “very close to”. His lifestyle changed dramatically as a result. It was a turning point toward destructive choices.


Personal Experience

As a toddler, my two baby sisters passed away: one soon after birth, the second a few short months later. My mother, a true nurturer, was thrown into an emotional tailspin, unable to deal with the impact of such a great double loss.

Though I have no memories of tiny siblings, there are many of a sad father and an angry mother. Both struggling for breath in the midst of heart wrenching personal pain.

Even now, it is difficult to put pen to paper reflecting on my family deeply imprinted by tragic loss. More difficult still, it is to lay bare the wounded soul within me of the impact of those years.

Common Theme

Sitting next to a woman in midlife, through tears she whispers, “I finally have the words.” Her life as a small child had been filled with loss. Now as an adult, she “finally had words”…words that would open wide the gates to inner and lasting healing...words released from an inner cavern of pain.


It is an expression painfully familiar. Barely a week goes by in fact when I don’t hear them uttered in one form or another as I walk beside women of all ages into places of increased strength and purpose.

Children and death! Not an easy topic! For many children there are unbirthed, silenced or stolen words surrounding death of many shapes:

physical death
divorce – the undying death –
death of innocence or sense of stability
of personal worth and value
… loss in various ugly forms.

God’s Answer

With a grieving heart I pray seeking God for answers. How do we help children walk through “the valley of the shadow of death” – especially when it has been someone close to them?” In the midst of trauma, young children can easily be ignored, while the needs of others take priority. Certainly, it is not intentional! The life-long repercussions of by-passing the young should be cause to take another look!

What if we helped children find their voice in the centre of their situation and circumstance. Or if we did not wait for decades to listen for that fragile wavering voice? What if we stopped and silently listened, intentionally creating a gateway of expression?

The language of a child is different from the language of an adult. (1 Cor 13:11) There is a tender intuition in a child to protect others – an intense sensitivity to the painful currents around them. Children, even very young children, carry the emotional load of pain internally and personally.

Matthew 19 Little Children Come

Especially relevant for today are these words spoken long ago! It is our privilege to set before children of all ages the realities of the life of Christ. In this way, a solid foundation is established for even the smallest of children. A foundation that is secure in the most difficult of moments. Even as dark winds of pain come, the brightness of His goodness breaks through!

Hope in Christ

Jesus’ invitation to children still rings out, “Let them come!”

Such is the intention a little children’s book, “Olivia & Me”. It doesn’t contain answers to the hard questions; however, it does open wide the gate for conversation about life, death and hope we have in Christ Jesus.

Death never was, or is, God’s intention. Never! Quite the opposite is true; Jesus Christ is the

Giver of Life
Source of Life
Sustainer of Life
Bread of Life
Eternal Life
Abundant Life

Children and Death! Lord Teach us to Pray!

Lord help us be sensitive and present
for all those grieving.
Give us listening ears and an open heart to
hear beyond words  and see beyond natural limits
to the secret places of wounded hearts.
We need your love and compassion at all times.
Fill us with your wisdom and gentleness,
your grace and mercy to lavishly give
until the broken are whole again.