Together for the Gospel: Sons and FathersPosted: July 8, 2009
Yesterday, I wrote an introduction for this series of posts on healthy, gospel-centered unity. If you missed it, make sure you read it so that you approach this and the next two posts with the right context.
When I speak of sons and fathers, I am not talking about the biological son/father relationship. Rather, I am speaking of a “son in the ministry” and a “father in the ministry.” Just like every son needs a father, every young pastor needs a “father in the ministry.”
Sadly, just like many sons go through life without a dad either by choice or by tragedy, many “sons in the ministry” labor for the gospel without a “father in the ministry” to lean on and learn from.
If we are going to see healthy, gospel-centered, mission-driven unity, the relationship between sons and fathers must be strong. It’s a two-way street and I’ll talk about the other side tomorrow, but today we’re talking about the foundational side.
Young pastor, just as you are called to honor your biological father, you are also called to honor your fathers in the ministry. If you love Jesus and care about the gospel advancing in your city, you must honor your fathers in the ministry.
We stand on the shoulders of these men. We run on the trails they have blazed. We harvest the fields they have planted and toiled in for years. Yet we often treat them like their voices, labor, experience and leadership are meaningless and antiquated.
We think…what they couldn’t do, we can and will. The questions we perceive they could not answer or didn’t answer well, we will answer and we don’t need them to help. The ideas they could not or did not run with, we will run with them…and we will succeed…without their help.
In the midst of our white-hot vision, we forget that some of the men pastoring in our cities led with the exact same white-hot vision 30 years ago. We forget that the men who seem so antiquated to us now were pushing the envelope years ago. We forget that they were the church planters who planted churches way before it was cool to plant churches. We forget that they were the missionaries taking the gospel to the nations way before there were the resources available like we have today.
We forget that they have learned and forgotten more than we could have possibly learned to this point. We forget that they have made mistakes that we are about to make…and have learned that lessons that we need to learn. We forget that they have led people, led change, celebrated victory and endured pain much, much more than we have.
We forget. And when we forget, we get arrogant. And when we get arrogant, we hurt the gospel because we break unity. We become idolators, worshipping our way as the way, our voice as the voice, our church as the church. It’s sinful and it must stop.
In order to see healthy, gospel-centered, mission-driven unity in our cities, the needed posture is honor. Young pastors, we must honor our fathers in the ministry. They’ve already earned it. Now, we must show it.
Young pastor, when was the last time you shared a cup of coffee or a meal with an older, established pastor simply to ask questions and learn from his experiences? Young pastor, when was the last time you wrote a thank you note to an older, established pastor? Young pastor, when was the last time you prayed for an older, established pastor and asked God to bless and use him and his church?
Sure, some won’t respond. It might surprise you who will and who won’t respond. But it doesn’t mean that you don’t show honor. For the ones who do respond, you have a gift…a true gift. You have a father in the ministry.
I am convinced that if we will give honor, we’ll see the kind of response we really want and need from our fathers in the ministry. More on that tomorrow along with some personal stories…