the shape of leadership

It Takes Being Real

A Q&A with Beth Grant

Chris Colvin on January 30, 2019

Dr. Beth Grant has been a missionary to Southeast Asia and also serves as an executive presbyter for the General Council of the Assemblies of God.

INFLUENCE: When did you fully realize your impact as a spiritual parent?
When I was chairing the Task Force for Women in Ministry 15 years ago, I became more aware that I had a responsibility for the women I was working with.

Over time, I started listing young ministers whom I knew God had brought across my path. It began as just a small circle, but it grew. I started to see them more often. I started to list more and more of them. Before long, it was a large circle of ministers God had put on my heart.

What is the most important characteristic of a spiritual parent?
For me, the biggest part of spiritual parenting is taking responsibility. God brought spiritual children into my life for a reason. Part of my role was to see how God had put His hand on their lives — to discern that and then affirm that, and to speak it over their lives. As years went by, I realized my role shifted, and I was put in a position to open doors for them.

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is a blessing. And one of the greatest tragedies is to withhold that blessing. You can’t just hope for someone or think about the gift God is pointing out. You must put it into words. That’s how the blessing works: “I see God’s hand on your life.”

“For me, the biggest part of spiritual parenting is taking responsibility.”
— Beth Grant

It may be small, but it’s life-changing.

How does a spiritual parenting relationship form?
It starts very small — when you’re around someone, maybe just talking now and then. And then the spiritual child may initiate it. “Can we talk? I would like your advice about something.”

And then it just grows from there.

I think what attracts spiritual children to their spiritual parents is a common call. For me, it may be the common work of missions. Or it may be that God is stirring a similar gift in them.

Sometimes I see God is growing them in a similar direction that He has led me. I know about the costs they’ll pay along the way, the decisions they need to make, or the mistakes they need to avoid. I take that responsibility very seriously.

What needs to happen for that relationship to be beneficial?
Well, first of all, we need to realize that spiritual parenting is not optional. If you are a natural mother or father, you know that parenting isn’t just about celebrating the good; it’s about speaking into the areas in which a child is most vulnerable. When I meet with a spiritual child, no topic is off-limits.

But that vulnerability requires a safe place of confidentiality and trust. We need to be open and honest with each other. So we must model the fact that we are real people, in real marriages, with real kids, in real churches made up of human beings. So I use real-life examples so they can be honest with me, but, more importantly, with themselves.

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2019 edition of Influence magazine.

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