One of my priorities as a Dad is to help my children learn to walk. I take this seriously. Our sixth child walked the earliest so far. She was walking one day before she was 9 months old.
We’ll see if I can have our seventh walking before that.
My wife doesn’t always share my enthusiasm. With so many young children in the house it can be nice to have a few that are limited in their mobility.
However, I figure they’ll never move out if they can’t walk on their own. Might as well get started as soon as we can. (I’m mostly kidding.)
I want my children to grow to maturity. I enjoy helping them take their first steps. I also enjoy watching the momentum build as they grow more and more into who God designed them to be.
This is true in my household. Also in the household of faith.
The Bible teaches that God’s children are supposed to grow in maturity and Christ’s likeness. It’s our destiny (Romans 8:29).
The apostle Peter counseled that we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). The apostle Paul writes a lot about how we used to walk before we knew Christ. He talks about how we ought to walk now that we do know Him.
Learning to walk with God is important. It’s not natural to us. We need grace.
I often marvel at the patience of God. He designed a lot of things to take a lot more time than I would have. He designed families to have a mother and a father. These parents can then care for, nurture, and raise their children. The goal is to deliver them safely into maturity.
God designed the church to operate similarly. He gave leaders to help nurture, protect, and raise newly converted Christians into fully mature, functioning members of the body.
I have a large family by modern standards. The logistics of getting two adults and seven kids under 10 out the door can be challenging. There are times when it seems like the easiest, most expedient thing is simply to do everything for the kids.
A shoe is untied. I’ll tie it.
A nose is running. I’ll wipe it.
Someone needs to get dressed. I’ll pick your clothes. Let me help you.
If this mentality is taken too far we will inevitably trade long-term maturity for short-term expediency. It sure is nice to make it somewhere on time. But it’s nicer to have kids that know how to tie their own shoes and blow their own noses.
How will my sons ever get married or hold a job if I always have to wipe their noses for them and tell them when to blow?
The church needs spiritual fathers. That’s why in the New Testament we see a universal pattern of local churches being governed and led by elders (plural).
However, in our day we love expediency. I fear that we’ve traded in overseers for professionals.
A professional is someone we pay to perform a service for us. When I get my oil changed the technician doesn’t invest time teaching me how to do it myself. That would put him out of a customer. Instead, he performs the service I pay him to. It’s quick, easy, and clean.
Where in the Bible do we see the responsibility of the leaders of the church to create experiences and orchestrate services for the body? Where do we see the example of biblical leadership training or allowing the body to become reliant upon them for even basic things like telling others about Jesus?
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. (Hebrews 5:12)
The professionalization of ministry has created consumers who rely on the professionals once or twice a week to help them experience God.
Overseers, on the other hand, oversee the maturation process of discipleship. Overseers invest in people to ensure that they are growing in Christ’s likeness. They view it as their job to deliver Christians to spiritual maturity.
Christians need to learn how to walk with God every moment of everyday. We need to learn to be led by Him, no longer reliant upon professionals. This takes time. It takes effort. There will probably be some times when we stumble and fall. But we need to press forward.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14)
Do you rely on spiritual overseers or spiritual professionals? If you want to learn how to walk then one will help. The other will hinder.