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The One Thing the Church Will Never Give You

From the archives

I know a girl in her mid-twenties who was raised by a single mom and grew up without knowing her father.

For many of us who grow up fatherless or with strained father relationships, we experience great loss, as a result. Thankfully, this girl met Christ at any early age, yet she always longed for an earthly father to love her, not just her Father in Heaven.

When this particular girl was a few years older, she met a husband and wife in the their forties who began to show God’s love to her, counsel her, pray with her, and treat her like their own.

They asked her one day what is was that she needed–spiritually and emotionally. She paused and said she needed something that the Church would never give her…

…a father.

She said she needed a father.

Sure, the Church would give her a “mom,” another woman to disciple or mentor her. They would assign her a woman, if that was what she needed, but the Church would never give her a father.

The man in his forties smiled back at her, hugged her, and said he would be her father. That man is my father-in-law, but no, the girl in the story is not me.

The girl is another young woman I know who has received a loving fatherly relationship through my father-in-law. He approves (or disapproves) of her boyfriends. They grab ice cream together, hang out and watch movies, pray together, read the Word together…you know, father-daughter stuff.

Some people might find this relationship “weird,” or “unhealthy,” or even “inappropriate,” but I don’t.

The Church is a  family and it is supposed to be our family. Most normal, earthly families are, at least on some level, dysfunctional. We usually grow up lacking something from our own families. Perhaps we just need someone to show us love on a consistent basis or make us feel wanted or appreciated.

As in the case of this young woman, perhaps we just just need a parent to replace one that was neglectful, harmful, or absent.

When I first became a believer, I didn’t know what to expect or ask from the Church. I didn’t know that I could ask for things from my family of believers. But, if we really are a family, then we should be able to express our hopes, needs, and desires; and not only express them, but receive them.

One thing I have been afraid to ask the Church for has been opportunity to grow and mature in using my giftedness. I am married to a leader, a visionary, and a shepherd. God informed me a few years ago, though, that He had a specific and powerful ministry for me (not just the “me” married to Jonathan).

I have been fearful, though, of asking the Church for opportunity to develop and display the ministry He has called me into. Of course, He has been faithful to give me opportunities here and there, but I need to be bold and simply ask. I need to feel confident that I can come to my spiritual family and say, “Hey, here is what I need. Can you provide?”

I’m starting this week. I’m telling you guys so you can help keep me accountable. I’m going to ask for what I need. I’m going to ask for the one thing I have wrongly thought the Church would never give me. What about you?

What have you needed that you felt the Church would or could never provide? What do you need to ask for of your Church family? Do you need support, growth, resources, relationship, healing? If you have been afraid to ask, why?

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