I’m not your father

Jesus said “…Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). 

Pastoral care can be tricky. Without it, people “die off,” unable to survive the struggles of life. But too much of it, and you create an unhealthy dependence that can be detrimental to their spiritual health. 

People may end up with a sense of entitlement where they begin to expect the constant attention they’ve been given by you. Once you arrive there, there’s no departure. You’ve got to continue giving that attention due to the high level of expectation.

Another side of this might be a feeling of being “smothered.” With too much care, people move into a state of being controlled by others. This creates a sense of resentment. 

During the initial, “infant” stages of a person’s spiritual life, a higher level of care is critical. But they must be weaned from that at an appropriate time. Then the aim is to turn them to the Lord and teach them to depend on him as their source for all their needs. That is healthy and sustainable since God is always dependable. 

But we as humans will always vacillate. Our perspectives will continue to change. Our self interests will get in the way of our relationships. Such factors will create conflict and confusion. 

Jesus said we are not to call people “father” for we all have one Father in heaven. He is the Father of all. When we try to find a replacement for our Father in heaven, there will always be misalignment. 

Of course we should love people and care for them. But our focus should be to constantly turn their focus to the heavenly Father. He is the one who sustains them. Through the Holy Spirit, the presence of the heavenly Father will always be with them. He will be their constant, ever present, all powerful helper in times of need. 

No, I’m not your father nor mother. But you do have a Father in heaven. 

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