You’ve probably heard about “helicopter parents” who do everything for their kids, so the kids never learn to do things for themselves. College professors report parents arguing with them about their students’ grades, And employers see parents accompanying their children to job interviews. While we want to protect our kids, they need to learn to function without us hovering over them.
But in the spiritual family, we often have the tendency to expect the same of pastors, that they hover over us, ready to fight our spiritual battles for us, pray for us, and he just everything we need to know about God and living in His Kingdom. If you’re not sure what I mean, who teaches the catechism “as the head of the household should teach it in a simple way to his family”?
As a father, I love my children and would love to do everything for them so they never have to face the struggles and challenges of life, but that would make me a terrible parent. The same goes for being a spiritual father as a pastor. While I am called to publicly preach, teach, and administer the sacraments, every teacher knows that one of the primary factors in effective teaching is a low student/teacher ratio. In our congregation, I have over 100 people to keep track of and train. I can do that, but not effectively. Even Jesus did most of His training with just 12 men.
But as Lutherans, we teach “the priesthood of all believers,” which means that every Christian has been given the power, opportunity, and responsibility to serve as a mediator between God and the people in their lives. I am called to equip and train you to do that, providing oversight of a few who will in turn oversee a few themselves. We have already begun this process with our small group model, but we will soon be drastically improving our spiritual growth path with mentors training students to become mentors, all growing together and learning hands-on what life looks like in the Kingdom of God.
I will still be available where needed and to provide oversight and direction throughout, and you can call or text me just like my kids do when they need help or answers (OK, teens never call anyone—they only text—but you can), but you will soon be learning firsthand what it really means to make disciples of all nations.