One of the most unique and fulfilling seasons in life is when we become spiritual fathers and mothers. This happens at about age 50 or so. That number is not absolute, but this assignment in life does require the accumulation of years. By this time, hopefully, we carry a measure of proven wisdom and insight that only comes from decades of living and believing.
The wisdom gained over a lifetime becomes a gift a spiritual parent freely gives to their children in the faith. You can see this in the relationship Paul had with Timothy. As you read the Pastoral Epistles, you sense in Paul’s words the depth of his desire for Timothy to become a trusted man of God in all aspects. Paul wanted his investment in Timothy to bring the highest return for the glory of God.
There is another side to being a spiritual parent that is not discussed much. You come to realize something when you enter this stage in life. There is no one older than you looking out for you and your needs. The younger ones are looking to you for provision and assume all your needs are met. This statement is not meant to be fodder for a pity party. It is just the reality of life. For example, in a natural family, kids don’t head off to school in the morning asking, “I wonder what mom and dad need today?” Teenagers don’t ask this question when they are hitting dad up for the car keys. It is only when children become older adults do they begin to consider the needs of aging parents.
By the time you arrive at spiritual parenthood, you should have developed a relationship with the Lord where you trust Him to meet your needs – the obvious ones and the ones only you, and the Lord can see. Trust allows you to rest in God’s faithfulness knowing He understands what you need and will be faithful to supply those needs. It also keeps you from moving away from a place of dignity and assuming the motives of a relational beggar subtly dropping hints of your needs, or worse, creating a platform where you attempt to self-honor and demand from others the provision you feel entitled to.
As a spiritual father and mother, the greatest gift you will leave behind is a life that became a living advertisement of God’s faithfulness and goodness. This kind of parent has learned to trust God and trust God in their spiritual children to such a degree that worry and manipulation are nowhere to be found in the testimony of their life.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).