I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4
We speak of “making babies,” but we don’t really make them—we’re vessels God uses to create a child. So, it is in spiritual parenting: We don’t make Christians, but we can be vessels used by God in the creation and growth of His child. In both the physical and spiritual realms you can parent a child whose birth you didn’t witness, for there’s more to being a parent than giving birth; a real parent takes continuing responsibility for parenthood.
In the church, there are too many fatherless and motherless babes around, people led to Christ but now left to grow on their own—orphans in Christ. If you don’t consider yourself a spiritual babe—how about becoming a parent? Pick up a few of those orphans waiting around.
As a spiritual parent to the Corinthians, Paul could be harsh in rebuking their sins (1 Corinthians 4:8-10). But he tells why: He loved them as a father loved his own children. “I do not write these things to shame you” (4:14). Shame means to strip someone of respect, to humiliate— “you’re worthless, hopeless; you’ll never change.” But no one is worthless or hopeless or incapable of change. In Christ, we’re beloved children of God, bearing the worth God placed on each of us. Paul said he wrote, not to bring shame, “but to admonish you as my beloved children.” He could not bear to see them stray from the truth and come to ruin.
This is a parent’s love, and in that love we remind a spiritual child constantly of what God has said.