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19 February, 2013 15:32

February 19, 2013

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FATHERS GONE?

I’m currently flying home from Seattle after having the privilege of participating in the memorial service of a dear friend. Russ Clark was one of my associate pastors during my years of ministry in Gig Harbor, Washington. Russ died at 90 years of age. While his body finally wore out, his mind was still lucid and active right up until his final departure to glory.

What set Russ apart from so many was that he lived solely for God and His people. This is what I shared at his memorial service: Russ was intelligent but humble, knowledgeable but teachable, spiritual yet practical, principled but merciful, strong yet gentle, serious yet fun to be with. Russ was a father not only to his own family but to so

many more.

While titles these days have become a fad, with Apostle being the most coveted of the bunch, few achieve the rare status of Father. Fathers focus on nurturing rather than numbers. They would rather see their children succeed than make a name for themselves. They prefer pouring into the lives of their pupils more than preaching from the pulpit. They measure success in terms of character development rather than mere results. Russ was that type of man. A valuable asset to our team, and especially to the Church Body.

Speaking of spiritual Fathers, why are they so few and far between? Fathers are not produced in some seminary or Bible School. They can’t be appointed by a board of elders or voted on by the congregation. No, true Fathers share a common bond, a true love for God and for people with a desire to get involved in their lives. They take the time to seek out the lonely, needy and broken, and invest the time necessary to bring them to healing and wholeness. They are prepared to ‘get down and dirty’ until the job is done. They instill in them a sense of value and purpose, encouraging them until they achieve their goal; to help others do the same.

Fathers have a tendency to beget Fathers. A Father’s impact is so profound that those who have been raised by one often follow in their steps. Like I said, Fathers are not churned out in seminaries by listening to lectures but they learn by seeing love in action. It’s not hearing what comes from the head but from the heart. As the old Southern preacher said, "It’s better felt than telt". Yes, Fathering takes time, patience, sweat and tears. Little wonder then that Paul wrote, "You have ten thousand instructors in Christ but not many Fathers"

I’ll miss Russ now that he has gone, but I won’t ever forget him. You see he was more than just a friend, he was another Father that God placed in my life.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2013 6:51 pm

    David,

    Thank you for that word, it is something that has been churning my heart lately. Mainly for my children and grandchildren, but this word expands it to the body of Christ. I would think we don’t see it much today because it’s not taught much today.

  2. February 20, 2013 11:24 am

    David, we were so blessed to have you share at Russ’s memorial. He was one of those people that I always felt ‘safe’ with. I knew if he put his name to it, it was safe. I will miss him dearly; he really was more than a father to me! Thank you for many fun years where I had the honor to work for you and Russ, it always brings a smile to my face reminiscing. As I told Bonnie & Joni, there is nothing quite like a David Ravenhill hug! You just make us miss you more….. 

  3. February 20, 2013 12:43 pm

    Hey David, thank you so much for putting this out there! It is also my heart’s cry that the fathers would arise in the church, and that God would develop His Fathering Spirit in me. Thank you for being a father to me and to First Love Church – it brings a feeling of security that is difficult to explain. Much love from Gig Harbor, Cedric

  4. Joni Clark permalink
    February 21, 2013 1:09 am

    Rachel told me that–when you came over after the service–she burst into tears and couldn’t speak…she said that you represented something that she struggled to find words to explain. We talked about how–in that moment–she was flooded with a sense of peace, security, strength, safety, unconditional love, memories of a wonderful and joy-filled youth…all of the things that a great “father” provides to his “children”. Thank you, David, for being a wonderful “father” through the years to my family and to ALL of us here in Gig Harbor–we are ETERNALLY grateful, and you are loved very much!!!

  5. aki niemi permalink
    February 27, 2013 7:51 am

    Brother David

    Your message about Fathers is timely. This has been also in my hart lately. We live the age of Fatherleseness and we have a Fatherless genaration growing up before our eyes. Church need to wake up otherwise we will lose a Fatherless generation. To be a Father or to be need of a Father is not measured in age but in a mesure of Jesus-Like-Love to pass on to the next generation.

    Amen

  6. April 13, 2013 9:30 pm

    Speaking of Fathers, you’ve certainly followed in your own Father’s footsteps! Wow. Been reading some of your writings. I am a bit younger, so trailing you guys, but the shadow is a pleasant, protective place. I am thankful to God for your influence, even from afar…

  7. May 20, 2013 2:57 pm

    The Church in China shows much more respect for spiritual fathers in the Lord than we do. I would highly recommend every believer to study the great revival that has been sweeping China since the 1980’s (see http://www.asiaharvest.org). Chinese believers tend to be much more respectful of God Himself as a father to his children. This patriarchal orientation is not part of the American scene anymore and is considered obsolete. How far from the Biblical standards America has drifted! My own life was deeply influenced by great spiritual fathers such as Lance B. Latham (Founder AWANA Clubs), Dr. Al Metsker (Founder Kansas City Youth for Christ), and your own father at the Asbury College Revival (1970’s). Thank God for fathers!

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