A Lesson From E. Dewey Smith On Spritual Fathers And Sons 

Posted on May 15, 2015

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Everything Is Going Down, But The Word Of God……This is a great read from E. Dewey Smith on Spritual Fathers and Sons:  Within ecclesial communities, the topic of “spiritual parenthood/childhood” is a widely discussed conversation. Many unloving critics and critical lovers of the church have delved into this subject for a plethora of reasons. While some destructive forces initiate the aforementioned conversation with hopes of destroying the witness of the Body of Christ, I’ve vigorously researched and examined the best practices and models of “spiritual relationships” in ministries around the world. My focus, passion and commitment is to help us find solutions and offer hope to those interested in healthy ecclesiastical relations.

Without hesitation or equivocation, I believe that God places a premier value on “spiritual parenthood” and mentorship. As Jethro provided counsel to Moses, Moses gave an example to Joshua, Elijah provided a passion for Elisha, Lois offered strength to Eunice, and Paul developed discipline within Timothy, should senior leaders provide similar paradigms and contexts for those assigned to their stewardship. Throughout my life I’ve been blessed to glean from some incredible senior leaders. Leaders like Pastor Jack Smith, Jr., Pastor Eddie D. Smith, Sr., Bishop Richard “Mr. Clean” White, Dr. Melva Costen, Bishop J.L. Cotton, Dr. Prathia Hall-Wynn, Dr. Joel C. Gregory, Dr. Wilie L. Reid, Sr, Bishop C.E. Glover, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Sr. & Bishop T.D. Jakes, have left an indelible impression on me. Their struggles and successes have taught me much about life and ministry. The lessons that were either taught by or caught from these individuals, have given me a strong and impenetrable foundation upon which my ministry is built. My perspective of “spiritual parenthood” is measured, comprehensive, healthy and resolute because of the tremendous value that these great leaders have added to my life.

Over the past 25 years of my pastoral ministry, I’ve been blessed to provide “spiritual parenthood” to 37 “sons” and “daughters” who have served in my congregations and are now serving as pastors. There are hundreds of other pastors who have not served with me within a local assembly but still regard me as their “spiritual father”. Since 2006, my ministry has sponsored annual Pastoral conferences, retreats and seminars, geared toward the development of healthy spiritual leadership relationships. While I’m both humbled by and proud of this feat, it has not happened by osmosis.

Over the past few weeks, God has allowed to me guide 2 of my sons in the ministry through the arduous task of church planting. These successful launches and healthy relationships have been noticed by thousands of people and produced enumerable questions and inquiries. Recently, I’ve been blessed to communicate with hundreds of pastors who’re desirous of having me to become their spiritual father. As I have been in fervent prayer concerning the possible initiation and development of these relationships, my ultimate goal is to ensure absolute clarity and proper articulation and understanding of expectations and roles.

After the successful launch of The House of Hope Macon and my effusive expressions of happiness and excitement about the church and my son in ministry, Pastor Reginald W. Sharpe, Jr., hundreds of people reached out to me on social media seeking insight regarding my relationship with Pastor Sharpe. Those requests, along with some recent “father/son” horror stories, led me to share a few musings on social media. The sheer impossibility of providing comprehensive context on certain social media mediums moved me to pen this missive. In an effort to bring clarity and context about this topic in a way that 140 characters can not, please allow me offer the following:

10 Suggestions for “Spiritual Parents”

  1. Be sure that you’re healed from any past wounds that you may have experienced with a “Spiritual Parent” or “Spiritual Child”. Don’t treat your “children” negatively because of what a previous “Parent” or “Child” did to you. Don’t make them pay a “tax” based on another person’s actions.
  2. Realize that all of your spiritual children are not the same. Naturally speaking, infants are not cared for in the same way that toddlers are. In like manner, don’t treat your “spiritual teenagers” like you would your “spiritual babies”.
  3. Never allow money to be the gauge of who you allow to be your spiritual children. Don’t make “spiritual parenting” an ecclesiastical network marketing structure.
  4. Understand that a “Spiritual Parent’s” responsibility is to help your “children” exceed you in ministry. You should want your children to eventually do more than you in ministry!
  5. Be secure enough to not use your number of “spiritual children” as a badge of honor or to make you feel important.
  6. Realize that your “children” aren’t in your life to simply fulfill your vision. You must also support their visions. If not, the relationship becomes one-sided and parasitical.
  7. Help your “spiritual children” to discover, develop and deploy their gifts.
  8. Invest in your “children” and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship.
  9. Avoid the “Saul spirit”. Never become intimidated by your “children”. Never compete with them. It’s all about God’s Kingdom and not yours.
  10. Love your “children” enough to nurture, correct and be truthful with them. Be very observant of “sibling rivalries”.

Don’t allow your “children” to compete against each other.

10 Suggestions For “Spiritual Children”

  1. Always seek to support and add value to your “Parent’s” vision.
  2. Evaluate, monitor and if necessary, purify your motives to ensure that you’re seeking an authentic relationship and not a platform, stage or opportunity. Don’t be an opportunist.
  3. Always be honest with your spiritual parent. Don’t lie to the persons to whom you are accountable.
  4. Live a life of integrity. Do not blemish or tarnish the reputations of the persons God has connected you with through bad character.
  5. Be open for correction and instruction. You need someone in your life who can show you how to get to where God wants you to be.
  6. Never compete with your “spiritual siblings” for opportunities and platforms.
  7. Don’t use deceit to get on a stage. Always let your gifts make room for you.
  8. Never ask for a ministry or preaching opportunity. Develop your gifts and crafts. Be ready when the opportunity comes.
  9. Understand that some “spiritual parents” have been hurt in previous relationships. Sometimes you may “pay the tax” on something done by someone else years ago. You may not be trusted initially because of something that someone did.
  10. Don’t paint all “spiritual parents” with the same broad brush. Never allow a bad “parent/child” experience to distort your views on all “spiritual relationships”.

While this list may not be exhaustive, I sincerely believe that it can provide a solid foundation upon which “spiritual relationships” can be built. Whether you serve as a “Spiritual Parent” or “Spiritual Child”, be determined to be the best that you can be. God wants to use you and the Body of Christ is in desperate need of your example.