Even when we get a good idea of what it isn’t and what it is, there typically remains the very practical question of how to do it. The best understanding of a concept wants for application to manifest the value of the idea. I’ve spent the past two posts exploring the difference between a father (https://scottprickett.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/a-closer-look-at-what-it-means-to-be-a-father) versus a guide (https://scottprickett.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/plenty-of-guides). That information may be good but its ultimate value is in the “how-to.” Thankfully, Paul tells us in the language immediately following his exhortation of 1 Corinthians 4 as in verse 16 he simply states, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”
The way to be a father to sons is to urge them to be imitators of you. A few things to remember in this invitation:
- Paul is a first-generation Christian and he is multiplying the Fatherhood of God through Christ. He was a murderer prior to meeting Jesus in a dramatic way. His source of life which he wishes to impart and multiply is in Him, not in Paul’s human limitations.
- Being worth imitation requires a something of value which is authentic. If Paul was anything less than a zealous disciple, there would be no appeal to potential disciples. His position as one to be imitated is dependant on his passion . . . if he doesn’t believe it, nobody else will.
- Imitation also requires proximity. There can be no imitation where there has not been a sharing of life. This is not a transfer of information or a rulebook to follow. Imitation is an experiential learning on the go which requires an investment of time.
- Multiplication is possible which relieves Paul from the need of one on one with every subsequent generation being able to benefit from the previous. Paul can invest in sons and those sons raise up sons in similar fashions. Fathers don’t just raise sons, they raise future fathers.
Want the “how-to?” Invite a son along wherever you go. Be sticky and be real. When you’re doing stuff, whatever stuff you do, bring a son with you. There is a lesson in every meeting, every meal and every experience. This takes time and intentionality which separates the guides from the dads.
The combination of authenticity and invitation produces life on life learning which is born of a passionate pursuit of Jesus and infectious beyond your efforts. It’s the multiplication of family born of God’s design. It’s the satisfaction of a son.