My 4-year-old daughter helped me carry and stack firewood on Saturday. She saved me several trips back and forth by making numerous trips carrying a single piece of wood each time. Then she saved me from fumbling with fat, gloved fingers on the remote by locking the car for me. It was her pleasure to help me, useful to me, and a chance for her to learn simply by joining with me as I worked.
I know that the skills I’ve mastered best are those learned working alongside someone who had already mastered them and to whom the work seemed to come naturally. My favourite learning style is probably that of an apprentice. I find myself wishing more of this happened in the church.
I don’t really have a spiritual father so have used a lot of trial and error in following Christ. We need spiritual ‘fathers’ to teach young Christians how to live out their faith (1 Corinthians 4:15-16). Unfortunately it is rare to find such people in the churches of New Zealand, many who should be mature are still captivated by the world and its ambitions, others have been beaten down by life and feel like they are barely holding on to faith themselves (Hebrews 5:12).
What is a father in Christ like? The apostle John expresses it this way: I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning (1 John 2:13). The disciple Jesus loved calls those who know Jesus intimately, ‘fathers’. No matter how old a person may be, Jesus is from the beginning and has yet more of himself to be known.
If you know someone who has walked long with Jesus and is ever growing in their depth of knowledge of Him, offer that person the respect due a father or mother. Walk with them and allow them to pass on the riches of their intimacy with Christ. This sort of learning from elders takes time and occurs at walking pace. Don’t disdain such a path in this age that demands instant solutions for everything.