In 1 Cor 4:14-16 – Paul writes to the church in Corinth and shares these thoughts:
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.
The word guardian is the same term for the word pedagogue – (If you want to learn more about a pedagogue ask Evan our intern he is yoda with these things)
A pedagogue is a teacher. In Greco Roman culture as children of wealthy families grew up they were assigned a pedagogue, this person served as a teacher and protector. In a child’s early years they would be entrusted to this guardian for a season until they were ready to follow their fathers & mothers & prepare for their trade.
The key role of this guardian was to pass on information & protection.
Then a moment comes when a child is handed off to his father, it usually came with some sort of ceremony where a son would then begin working with his father to learn his fathers trade. So at the age of 12 or 13 a young boy would start working with his father to learn how to do whatever his father did.
The key role of the father is imitation. The child was to imitate what the father did. Whatever trade the father worked in the son would follow and he would learn by imitation.
Obviously, a child would follow his father until he was prepared to take over his fathers business at which point he would not only imitate who his father was but he would actually innovate and define new ways of doing the family business.
3dm has a great tool for this idea explaining what Paul is discussing here in 1 Cor 4:14
Our team today sat down and started asking the question throughout your life how have you been lead?
Like a guardian or like a father?
Paul says we have had 10,000 guardians, which I know has been true for me. Information about Jesus is easy to find its everywhere with one click I could download volumes of books, hours of sermons and days of content about Jesus. Having someone who says follow me as I follow Christ is much more rare. Someone saying I am going to walk shoulder to shoulder with you & allow you to imitate me is not common in our culture. The intentionality of life on life discipleship has been replaced with a corporate model of leading church teams in the same way we would lead a business.
Here’s the scary thing:
Our staff team who has a combined 40 to 50 years in church ministry felt like we had never had a boss on a church staff who lead as a spiritual father but only as a guardian. We have never had a leader say imitate me as I imitate Christ but we have always had leaders who lead at a distance.
Guardian leadership is about passing on information, its transactional, it performance based, its seasonal, its formal and it keeps its followers at a distance.
This isn’t how I lead my family! My love for my sons is not transactional, my affection for my daughter is not performance based or seasonal. I would never keep them at a distance but I want to draw them in.
This also isn’t how a spiritual father leads a family on mission!
Leadership in a family is about imitation its not transactional its a commitment to each other, its not performance based but it is held together by love. Its not seasonal or formal but life long and informal. Its not about keeping our followers at a distance but it is about inviting them into your life. We seem to have created teams with coaches but not families with spiritual fathers!
A team is great but a family is better!
So our team/family simply asked the question if their are 10,000 guardians and not many fathers than how do we start leading staff teams as Spiritual fathers and not as Corporate guardian leaders?
How would things change?
What steps need to take place?
How do we lead more like fathers and mothers of spiritual families instead of corporate business leaders?
What does it look like to lead out of imitation instead of information?
These questions and many more have my mind spinning – Pray for us as we attempt to not just listen to these words from Paul but as we attempt to live in them! I would love to hear your thoughts as well!