Have you ever heard your parents say: “I’m the parent, that’s why.” Have you ever said that? Dads have a habit of saying that when their children keep asking, “Why?… Why?… But why?” When we just cannot think of anything else to say, we say: “I’m your father, that’s why.”
The hilarious thing about it is that we hated it as children. It makes absolutely no sense to a child’s way of thinking, especially when they’re teenagers. But, as soon as we become parents, it makes so much sense that we can hardly keep from saying them to our own children.
Why does that make so much sense to us as parents? Because we know how much we do for our children. We understand the sacrifices we make, the countless hours of work, long nights when they’re sick, providing them food and clothing. Our kids owe their lives to us. So, we think to ourselves, The least they can do is to have some respect for our opinions and comply with a few simple wishes.
There is a lot of truth in these feelings as parents. Children should appreciate what their parents do for them. As Paul tried to turn the Corinthians away from their divisions, he spoke to them as their spiritual father. Many people had helped the church at Corinth, but only one person had brought them to life in Christ—Paul. So he asked them to remember they were his spiritual children and to listen to what he had to say.
1 Corinthians 4:14-21
14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?
Relationships are key for effectiveness and endurance in ministry.
How do we grow disciples? Through relationships. We want to help people grow to become fully devoted followers of Jesus.
This happens through long-term relationships, not just a friendship that is here for a moment and then gone.
You can impress from a distance, but you influence up close and personal. We should honor those pastors in the trenches with people, who are accessible to people. This means we need real genuine Christian community.
The Church is a Family.
That’s why we can be united. The church is not an institution, not a religious club, not a society, not an organization, not a business. The Bible says, “The church is a family.” That’s how we are to relate to each other. Everyone who knows the Lord is a part of it.
You can be a part of God’s family of believers, but you need a local family where you can give and can be given to and receive support.
What happens when a building doesn’t have support or a foundation? It collapses. You won’t make it in the Christian life without a church family. You’ll have no support, no foundation. You will not be all that God wants you to be without a church family. It’s that important.
The Christian life is not just a matter of believing but it includes belonging. Being a Christian doesn’t just mean believing, it means belonging, being a part of God’s family.
You might have a thousand teachers but only one mom and only one dad.
The church is not a business, we are a body.
People say, “I don’t like organized religion.” I say, “You’ll love The Connection Church, because we are so unorganized.”
The church can learn from the business world, but we’re not a business. Business is about making money. Ministry is about making disciples through relationships. It’s about something much bigger: eternity. Ministry is about relationship with Jesus and people.
The way we grow is through imitation.
You can best see how it’s done up close and personal. You can’t really get it from a book or a conference.
Can you imagine saying like Paul, “imitate what I do?” Spiritual maturity is more caught than taught. “We teach what we know. We reproduce what we are.” That means we need consistent, mature, positive models who lead by example.
That means we need to be around each other to watch. We need to open our lives and our victories and losses.
How did Jesus reproduce the disciples? They were with him. This was also true with Paul.
It’s not just modeling your strengths, but bou can model your mistakes too. How do you deal with problems and suffering?
We learn character and values in our families. You have a family like that. It’s called the church.
2 Important Questions
Who is a spiritual father or mother? Brought you, nurtured you? How should you imitate them right now?
Who is a son or daughter in your faith? Who is watching you? It could literally be your kids but others too. How can you remind them of how to live for Jesus?
When you take a step of obedience, it’s not just about you, but it is for others’ benefit too. So they can see your faithful obedience in action. We think it’s about us. So, we procrastinate or don’t do it. Others are watching you. There are people watching you at work or in your neighborhood.
Revered Coach Learned from His Dad
John Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of college basketball, who credited much of his success to his dad. He recalled a boyhood occasion when he watched his father deal with a certain situation. His rural Indiana county would pay local farmers to take teams of mules or horses into the gravel pits scattered through the county and haul out loads of gravel. Some pits were deeper than others, and sometimes it was hard for a team to pull a wagon filled with gravel out through the wet sand and up the steep incline.
One steamy summer day, wrote Wooden, a young farmer was trying to get his team of horses to pull a fully loaded wagon out of the pit. He was whipping and cursing those beautiful plow horses, which were frothing at the mouth, stomping, and pulling back from him. The elder Wooden watched for a while, then went over to the young man and said, “Let me take ’em for you.”
Dad started talking to the horses, almost whispering to them, and stroking their noses with a soft touch. Then he walked between them, holding their bridles and bits while he continued talking-very calmly and gently-as they settled down. Gradually he stepped out in front of them and gave a little whistle to start them moving forward while he guided the reins. Within moments, those two big plow horses pulled the wagon out of the gravel pit as easy as could be. As if they were happy to do it.
John Wooden said, ”I’ve never forgotten what I saw him do and how he did it. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of leaders act like that angry young farmer who lost control. … So much more can usually be accomplished by Dad’s calm, confident, and steady approach.”
Wooden took away an unforgettable lesson: “It takes strength inside to be gentle on the outside.”
Love without discipline is not real love. Real love is willing to say the hard things. Discipline without love is abuse and control.
Have you ever had a stranger offer you serious criticism? Most of us have experienced this. What goes through our heads? “Who are you? Why do you think you have the right to criticize me?” “You don’t even know me!”
Those thoughts are natural when a stranger judges us, but you know how different it is when a close friend or family member gives us constructive criticism. It may hurt for a while, but in the back of our minds we remember something very important. “I know she cares about me.” “He has shown love for me many times.” “I can take this from her.”
Paul hoped the Corinthians remembered his love and care for them. He had made a great sacrifice to share the Gospel. Paul showed great love for them many times. He hoped they would receive his criticism because he loved them so much.
The Kingdom of God
Paul writes that the Kingdom of God is not about talk, but about the power of God. Talk is cheap! You can talk it, but can you live it? So many people are virtue signaling. That means they are doing the bare minimum without doing anything to actually help the situation. You’ve got to be about it by living it out. That’s where the power is.
The Kingdom of God is wherever God rules and reigns. Let God reign and rule in your life, in your home, and in our church.