Both mothering and fathering are essential in each person’s life, and each person we meet is at a different place in their walk.
The art form of leadership is to see which one they need at this time, so we can partner with God in taking them one step further in their walk. And remember that the issue is what they need, not what they want. A lot of people come to me with gusto and bravado, wanting to conquer the world, asking me to make them tough enough to do it, but two days into the process, I find massive deficits of mothering which they didn’t know they had.
More common are the people who ask for more mothering because their environment is rocky, but what they really need is fathering.
In order to equip us to make the right calls at the right time we need to look at a wide variety of situations, so we can learn how to recognize the clues when we are under pressure to respond quickly. Fortunately, we have four books of the Bible about the Master mentor, who could assess and adapt on the fly. Let’s immerse ourselves in studying His technique.
Take the incident with the feeding of the 5,000. They were thrilled with the mothering and instantly formed a king-making committee since they loved the idea of a mothering kind of king. Jesus was not quite so thrilled with the idea, so He vanished.
When the petulant crowd found Him in the synagogue the next day, He gave them a seriously fatherly sermon and they squawked in outrage over having to think that hard, and they left.
That is an example of taking a gospel story and extracting the mothering and fathering.
And no, I don’t have a teaching on all the different ways Jesus mothered and fathered in the gospels. Nor do I plan to develop such a resource for you. But I am going to invite you to invest some of your own sweat equity into this process. Go to the gospels and find an illustration of one or the other, and write it up in a comment for the edification of the others.
Remember, my making you dig out your own insights is an exercise in fathering. Your digging out insights will not only educate you but the process will strengthen some Bible study skills that are there already, or unpack some that are latent.
When you write it out for others you are mothering them.
Now look at the hinge point. When you do the study for them, it feeds them now, AND it gives them the potential to go beyond the moment and improve themselves. Some, who are content with being mothered, will read, learn, appreciate it and do nothing more. That is OK. Mothering is about creating opportunities, knowing that most people will consume the resource for comfort and not leverage the mothering for growth.
But there will be some who will look at the different comments, benefit from them and then go on to practice finding their own insights. This is the ideal — mothering that is used by the “child” to voluntarily lean into unpacking their treasures, without having to be pressured by the father.
So let’s give it a try. Read the life of Christ, assess, then write a comment about one snapshot of Christ explaining why you think it is one or the other. Then, if you can, show how you have done what Christ did, in your 21st century application.
Copyright December 12, 2011 by Arthur Burk
From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim