God uses people to bless other people, that is His method. Through one person the grace of God will flow to others. Likewise as you grow in grace, God will also then use you to bring life and grace to others. As Elisha served Elijah in what was no doubt very ordinary day to day circumstances, the grace (anointing) that was on Elijah flowed through to Elisha via spiritual osmosis. Later we see that Elisha had the spirit of Elijah.
And as the disciples followed Jesus they also picked up grace from Him. Timothy acquired grace from Paul, as did Joshua from Moses, and Ruth from being connected to Naomi. The Bible has these practical examples to show us the idea.
Having a Spiritual Father is important because it puts us in a place where grace can flow to us, and this allows us to grow and find what God intends. So the grace does come from God, but He frequently uses people as His method.
The implications of this means that we cannot walk alone or be independent of others. We need the Body of Christ, and in particular we need to belong somewhere. And in that place we serve, we give, we love and through giving, we receive.
How Should a “Regular” Christian find a Spiritual Father?
For most people their spiritual father is the leader of the church fellowship to which they belong. The Bible says in Acts 17 that “God has determined the times and places where people should live.” The congregation to which you belong has a leader, and God has placed them there, and you should accept and love them and receive from them as a spiritual father to you.
You may object, “but they have obvious faults…”
If you are looking for a perfect human to be a spiritual father, then you will be a spiritual orphan. Our own earthly parents were faulty, and yet God asks us to honour them. As you honour accept and love the spiritual leaders God has already given to you, in them you will find that grace flows from them to you, even despite their faults.
For many people looking for a spiritual father, the temptation to look for someone great or famous, or to find someone outside of your congregation will be big. However in the mundane, and in regular life you will find grace in the leader God has placed there. Learn to love and honour what God has given you because life is in that. If you dishonour or show disrespect, you will not be able to receive as your attitude is a firewall to the blessing that would otherwise flow.
How Should a Pastor or Minister Find a Spiritual Father?
For Senior Leadership in a congregation, a spiritual father is needed too. Nobody should have to walk alone, and in God’s design nobody is meant to. Associate Pastors should walk with their Senior Leaders and love them, and give the heart. Associates should guard the heart against wanting to “steal the anointing” only to serve their own ministries, and instead should look to serve, love and give as did Elisha to Elijah. The double anointing only comes when the heart is given. When Elijah was taken Elisha cried out “my father my father.” It was a sad day for him because Elijah was a father to him. Associate ministers should give the heart and serve likewise.
Senior Ministers need to find meaningful relationships outside of their own congregation. For some they will consider the denomination to which they belong to be satisfactory, but denominational covering is not personal, and won’t do a sufficient job. The grace that can flow from an organisation is limited. God chooses to work through people and grace flows through relationships.
Senior Ministers looking for a spiritual father are looking to find someone else who is walking in the Lord that they can serve, love and relate to. In the majority of circumstances this will not be someone from another nation, and should not be someone famous. The motives of someone wanting a famous spiritual father may not be entirely pure. Likewise it is common for poor pastors to want to find a rich or western spiritual father. The motives here are frequently based on money. If such a relationship eventuated, it is not based on serving, but on getting, and this limits the flow of grace.
Pastors in this position should seek the Lord and allow Him to guide them and put them into a relationship where there is genuine accountability – a place which allows them to receive not only grace, but also correction and advice. Their motivation should be to serve and love and be willing to do so, even if no benefit returns. And it is precisely that motivation which causes grace to flow.