Your children will tell on you!
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:4-5)
Many of the principles that apply to our natural children hold true when it comes to our spiritual offspring. They are indeed our fruit, and bear seed for the next generation. In both cases, our influence helps to shape the kind of people they will become, for good or ill. An apple tree may not appear as such to the untrained eye, at least not until it produces some fruit. Likewise, there are often aspects of our purpose, our vision, and even our character that may not become apparent until it finds expression in our spiritual children. Furthermore, just as new strains and varieties of apple may come forth from later generations descended from that same tree, there can be characteristics, good, and bad which may not show up until our spiritual offspring have had a chance to produce some of their own.
I do not resemble either of my parents. In fact, when my brother and I once worked at the same facility, our co-workers had originally thought we were friends because we share no resemblance at all. However, I have been told that I am nearly identical in many ways to my grandfather. I did not grow around him and only saw him for a few days during a trip to Puerto Rico when I was three years old. Nevertheless, I smile, laugh, talk, and walk like him, I have been told, and share the same height. Unfortunately, I also apparently inherited his unique gift for exaggeration, and the Lord dealt with me for years until I finally broke the habit. At the same time, I am persuaded that there was an anointing upon his life that was passed on to me that has, in my life, found expression.
These things I say both as encouragement and admonition to those of you called to lead God’s people in whatever way He has called you, that there may be some beautiful things that Lord will do through the people you serve, so take care how you prepare your arrows. Likewise, let us ever be mindful of our influence that we prepare them well, not only for their immediate role in the vision God has given us, but also for the specific call upon their life.
In this respect so many of us in leadership find ourselves guilty of a truly heinous crime: we have, in many cases, developed people only just enough to be of immediate usefulness to our vision, our ministries, and sometimes even our own personal agendas. I once knew a leader who had in his church at least 5 people called to function as apostles, and more than a dozen called to be leaders with their own ministries, but he would not disclose this to any of them,and used a variety of tactics to actually prevent their further development. He was known to frequently say “Don’t get too hot, because I got some wet blankets.”
In his case much of the motivation for this was simple jealousy arising from an incident in years’ past when a trusted minister actually attempted to take over the church. Because of this, a powerfully anointed man of God called to raise up many leaders and bring clarity, focus and consecration to many others became jealous and controlling, and this eventually robbed his ministry of much of its potential.
What can we learn from this? Arrows are made for shooting. When God gives spiritual children to care for, it is our sacred duty to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and to release them into His purpose. That purpose may involve continuing to be a part of the work He gave us to do, or it my very well involve them picking up and heading to some remote corner of the globe, but whichever it may be, we had better shoot that arrow, and mind our aim when we do.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
A great deal of what God has called us to do in the lives of His people is to provide them with guidance. In modern terms, think of your spiritual children as smart bombs and you’re God’s ballistics engineer installing the guidance systems. Remember, that we are to train them in the way they should go. God has not called to raise spiritual couch potatoes, He has called us to raise up a people who will do His will. Part of our own walk of faith is trusting God enough to let our “kids” grow up and move on, even if that means they must leave our church or ministry and seek out a purpose that is divergent from that of our own call.
All this having been said, what testimony will your spiritual offspring bear? Will they resemble you in deep consecration, or in having none at all? Will they preach a word in season, inspired by God and full of His power, or will they have empty words full of men’s wisdom? Never forget that a father will often gain most of his honor through his sons. Abraham was the father of the faith, but he never conquered Canaan, but David did. David conquered the Promised Land in a way that even Joshua did not, but he could not build the Temple, that was given to Solomon to accomplish. Generations later, the great Promise was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phillipians 2:5-11)
God’s glory in redeeming man from the Fall was accomplished and expressed through His Son, and we as leaders ought to always bear in mind that Christ is to be our example in all things. Let us then therefore humble ourselves, be obedient unto death, deny ourselves the questionable privilege of personal agendas, and shoot the arrows the Lord gives us, that we may see God’s glory manifested as He has purposed.
Points for Consideration:
1.What are some ways in which you can improve your aim with the “arrows” God has given you?
2. Consider the people God has given you to lead, or called you to lead, and prepare a definitive outline for their spiritual development.
3. Take some time to consider a particular person under your care, and pray about their specific development and what the Lord would have you do to to give them direction.
4.Do you plan for the future development of the budding leaders in your midst? If so, name 5 elements of how you intend to develop them, and determine whether in truth such development has been progressing. If not, prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you to do in the interest of specific discipleship for His people.