It’s possible to have a church that has good speeches, good music ensambles and good non-profit organization. I won’t work there, build there or stay there. I refuse to do Christianity without Christ. I refuse to do church without power. Otherwise I'm a manager simply running a non-profit organization. While some do that well, tha'ts not what I am meant to do. That would be a burden to me. We weren't meant to burden a profession but to build a Kingdom. God’s Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is not based on what we consume but what consumes us:
For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
When the Holy Spirit takes over our lives, there are clear distinctions of what matters and what doesn’t to God. There are clear distinctions of what God-centered, Holy Spirit infused leaders look and act like and there are clear distinctions of what “me-centered”, Holy Spirit Insuffiecient leaders look and act like. The church of Corinth in the Book of 1 Corinthians had the same problem. There were many teachers, good speech writers, brilliant communicators but lacking the experience of the power of God that endorsed Jesus and his followers. See the Scripture below:
14 I am not writing these things to shame you, but to warn you as my beloved children. 15 For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. 16 So I urge you to imitate me. 17 That’s why I have sent Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of how I follow Christ Jesus, just as I teach in all the churches wherever I go. 18 Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again.19 But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. 20 For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. 21 Which do you choose? 1 Corinthians 4:14-15
God called them out. The congregation in Corinth had "arrogant leaders" with "pretentious speeches." Some versions of the Bible call these leaders “puffed up.” And God is concerned and speaks to Paul to “do something about it.”
So what does God do? God makes a distinction in verse 15 by using these terms: “teachers” and “fathers”. In our time, families are fragile, relationships shallow and denominations are becoming more obsolete by the generation. There has never been a time to find your friends who value what you value, your tribe to find your mission and a family to find your father (not gender specifc). Denominations compel us to gather around truths to form factions but fathers compel us to gather around truths to find families.
Good spiritual leaders can spot potential a mile away. Prophetic leaders call out the potential in others more than the opportunity for others. Opportunities are fleeting for people but potential is the foundation in people. Paul sees the potential and molds him into not just a great man but a spiritual son. Timothy isn’t seen as part of an evangelistic formula for the church but part of an eternal family in the church. He becomes a son... an extension of family. Timothy isn't just a mentee but a model of what Kindom power can look like. There is so much trust in Timothy that Paul can send his "son in the faith" to show an entire city what the Kingdom of God can look like. Paul isn't sending a book of doctrinal truths but a brotherhood of sons to represent to the church who God is, what power can do and what family can look like. Which compels God to make a a stunning and clarifying separation in the Scriptures here to help people in the church recalibrate from “puffed up teachers” to “powered up fathers.” To remind us (at the end of 1 Corinthians 4) That the Kingdom of God is not just talk but power.
Maybe this is my plea: As spiritual leaders to the next generation, let’s be less “informational firehoses” to those we are leading and be more “inspirational fires" to those who are following. Remember verse 20, "the Kingdom is not in Word but power." The original language means it's not about "logos" but about "dunamis." There seems to be a lot of teachers who were good at providing a lot of words to people but lacking power. We live in an age of a lot of words on a screen...in a world with a lot of information. And it's easily accessible. I can find the greek word for donkey or the history of the Post-It Note in a matter of 10 seconds. We aren't lacking information. In a time and a world of "information" there is something that is spiritually potent about "impartation." Impartation is from the Latin word, impartīre, which is made up of two words. The first word means“in” and the second word means "a portion or division of a whole that is separate or distinct piece, fragment, fraction, or section.” In other words impartation means to put a distinct piece of you, your mission, vision, values and experience in someone else. You can give people a piece of information or you can give them a portion to be put in them. Mentorship, cohorts and families have never been so important to people. In a world that values information for the taking we choose to value investment for the making. In a world that longs for belonging and family, we choose to be fathers with families.
Which do you choose?