“Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” – 1 Corinthians 4:11-15
This was true in Paul’s time and it is still true today. There are many “instructors” in the faith but not many spiritual mothers and fathers because while all want the glam of having students and followers, very few are willing to selflessly sacrifice to parent someone in the faith. That is to say, to truly invest into bringing others into the faith, disciple, teach them through their growing process until they are able to stand and walk this walk of faith, and help to equip them to venture out into their callings and to be good disciplers themselves.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” – 1 Peter 2:2
This has always been the true call of every Christian. Jesus never said, “go out and make converts“, or “go out and get people to join your church or denomination“. He said, “go out and make disciples”. In the early church it was every single person who got saved’s job to first willingly be discipled, then to willingly disciple others. This is actually where the term “God parents” comes from. When someone was “born again” they were considered babes in Christ, therefor someone more mature in the faith would be assigned to take them in as spiritual parents and raise them up in the faith until matured. These were their “God parents“. If the young believer failed, the babe in Christ was not looked poorly upon, their God parents were for not doing their job as a parent and neglecting or not looking after or tending to the new member of the family of God. For a baby is not at fault for falling down, yet it’s parents are if they do not pick it back up and teach it to walk.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me (new believer/babe in Christ), it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6
Simply instructing others from a stage, camera, or from a distance is glamorous, simply coming to church and warming a pew is easy, but being a spiritual mother or father to someone is laboring, selfless, and sacrificial. Therefor has it always been the least done but the most needed, for though it is the least glamorous, it is the most effective. Choose to step up and fill the void and see lives, homes, families, and even whole communities changed by the power of God. Most of all, see yourself changed as you begin to move in true faith doing what Jesus said to do and seeing Him back up His own commandment with His own power.
Yes as any natural parent can tell you, it will not be easy. You will get attached and they will rebel at times, you will be selfless and they will be selfish at times, you will give and they will take, you will be over worked and under appreciated just as every parent is. Yet good parents endure in the bonds of love and hope that one day the lessons and wisdom you sowed into them and the example you set before them will produce good fruits in them once they have grown up in the faith and matured. You see, because of your willingness to be a vessel of the Holy Spirit of God sowing these good seeds into their lives, they will (not right away but eventually) stand and begin to raise up disciples of their own one day, at which point they will finally understand and be grateful for all that you endured to raise up and disciple them. This is the way of parenting, both physical and spiritual, and because of your steadfastness, will they be steadfast also. This is the way God designed and intended for ministry to be. This is the way it works, the way it really works, the only way it really works.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old (mature), he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
“Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.” – Isaiah 54:1