March 1, 2016Top

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I greet you in the deep bonds of fellowship won for us by the blood of Christ.  I must confess I feel a special love for you courageous ones who know the pure joy of repentance beneath His Cross.  Nothing stirs my admiration more than those who endure suffering and fight temptation that you might share in all Christ has for His own (Heb 3:14).  Thank you for your notes and letters to us - it blesses our team immensely to hear of how our loving Father is ministering to your souls and transforming your lives.  In this spiritual spring we long to encourage you in what Fr. Schmemann calls the "long and sustained spiritual effort" of Lent.  In his book, Great Lent, he offers these words to describe our need for this discipline:
This world through all its "media" says:  be happy, take it easy, follow the broad way.  Christ in the gospels says:  choose the narrow way, fight and suffer, for this is the road to the only genuine happiness.  And unless the Church helps, how can we make that awful choice, how can we repent and return to the glorious promise given us each year at Easter (p. 14)?
What a glorious promise it is - death has been trampled down and Christ is risen!  And yet we so often fail to live in the reality of this promise.  As Schmemann writes, "We simply forget all this - so busy are we, so immersed in our daily preoccupations - and because we forget, we fail.  And through this forgetfulness, failure, and sin, our life becomes 'old' again - petty, dark, and ultimately meaningless - a meaningless journey toward a meaningless end" (p. 12).  This is why this season of Lent is so essential, offering us seven whole weeks of deliberate concentration on returning in repentance to our Baptism.
At this time last year, Leanne made her passage through death and into more abundant life.  We mourned the loss of her joyful face here with us, and continue to miss her greatly.  But much stronger than our sorrow is the heart-swelling gratitude for all that remains with us from her testimony and ministry.  The season of Lent is such a natural time to commemorate Leanne's life and legacy, and in this newsletter you'll see a poem written in Leanne's honor.  We praise God for raising her up to proclaim the power of the Cross over all that would separate us from His glorious promise.  He anointed her as His servant, and continues to love His world through her books, through MPC, and through the many ministries that were born through the influence of her spiritual mothering.  We need the help God gave us through Leanne's life and ministry, and we need to pass that help along, joining Leanne in her prayer, "Love Your world through me!"
I have a few opportunities and bits of ministry news to share with you.  Conlee and Signa Bodishbaugh, long-time ministry friends of Leanne's, are offering their Journey to Wholeness in Christ from March 10-12 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  You can learn more about the conference and other ways to connect with their ministry here.  Barbara Byers and I will be presenting at the CAPS (Christian Association for Psychological Studies) conference in Pasadena, CA on March 10.  Our presentation is titled "The exclusive prerogative of Christianity:  How the doctrine of forgiveness shapes Christian psychology and spiritual formation."  We would love to connect with any of you Christian-counselor-types who may be attending the conference. Registration is ongoing for the Wheaton MPC school that will be held July 10-15 on the campus of Wheaton College.  Please email Lori if you'd like her to mail you some brochures about the ministry which you can use to invite people to the Wheaton school! 
In this newsletter you will find a piece from Leanne's archives on the Cross.  I encourage you to read this with your prayer journal in hand and allow her words to draw you into Lenten meditation.  As I promised in our last newsletter, you'll also find a follow-up essay on spiritual fathering, this time with considerations for those who serve in this important role.  I'm going to conclude this letter by sharing a letter of testimony that we received as a precious gift.  I pray it will encourage you as it has our team.
Hello Blessed MPC Ministry Team:
I have been meaning to write you for two months now. When I returned home from MPC this summer, I had to move and then return to work. I wanted to share with you all that God did in me this summer in Wheaton at MPC, but also what he has been doing in all of us [hometown] folks since returning from our time with you. I am so grateful; words cannot express all that is in my heart. To say God is good doesn't begin to articulate his saving acts of grace in our lives.
Bentness: The Lord showed me that I was bent into myself through independence and self-sufficiency. This has been my position throughout my life due to the fact that I was very neglected as a child and left to fend for myself. As Sarah was inviting people to get prayer for their bentness, she also said, "The Lord is healing someone's back." I have had back issues for many years, and my back had been in some pain for several weeks, although not serious pain. Sarah's words drew my attention to my back, and I realized for the first time in weeks that I had no pain. Then the Lord showed me that I have been carrying my own load, wearing my own yoke instead of sharing Christ's yoke. This was connected to the back issues. I knew that my back would become a barometer, and indicator of how I was trusting God, letting go, and letting Him be God in my life.
Being and Well Being: At the last PCM I attended (2007?), God gave me a sense of being and well-being, or at least He strengthened my sense of being and well-being. On day two, he told me that I was not created to be responsible for others. He created me for Himself, to BE for Him. He made me for his pleasure. That day, I surrendered my family members--those I had felt responsible to take care of--to Him. They are His business, not mine. He told me to stay on my path, and not look at other peoples' paths. This is another load I have not been called to carry, and my meddling in others' lives is rooted in pride and an over-responsibility.
Healing of Misogyny: The Lord did a significant healing of misogyny in me during the 2005 and 2007 PCMs that I attended. However, he did more for me this year during the renunciation of Baal. During the prayer for the renunciation of Baal, I saw a picture in my imagination of all the sins of my family--the sins of generations of people from both my father and mother's families--come up through me and out of me onto Jesus who was nailed to a huge giant cross that was above me and was connecting earth with heaven. I named all the sins that the Holy Spirit brought to mind (abortion, adultery, misogyny, alcoholism, pornography, fornication, physical abuse, etc.). Many of these sins are connected to the sin of misogyny. All these sins went up onto Jesus' body on the cross. It was forgiven and gone from my family. I also realized at that moment that I was not independent from my family. I experienced all the effects of their sins. Now I was free, and even though most of them are dead, they, too, are free from those sins.
Healing from Deep-rooted Fear: After experiencing the healing from the sins of my family, I decided to get prayer for it. I also needed to confess some sin. I went forward to one of the prayer ministers in front. I shared my vision with her and confessed sin. She prayed for me. Then the Lord brought to mind a core issue, which I have already experienced much healing from God. I was the third of three children, and was a surprise pregnancy. My father was very excited that my mother was pregnant, but my mother did not want another child. At that time, my parents' marriage was not good. My father may have been having an affair on my mother, and both parents were on their way to becoming alcoholics. My mother was in labor for two days with me. When I was brought home, I was placed in the care of our African-American nanny, Carla. I slept in a bed with Carla in my room for the first ten days of my life. In those days, doctors advised women not to breastfeed their babies; thus, I was probably bottle fed by both Carla and my mother. My mother stayed home for a week after I was brought home from the hospital, and then she resumed her social engagements with her girlfriends and left me in the care of Carla. I am certain that is was Carla with whom I had attachment. Carla would always refer to me as her baby. I did not have a very secure beginning, and my deepest, most core issues stem from the circumstances of my conception and birth. God had done some deep significant healing in my soul, and I thought that wound had been healed. However, I discovered there was more. I have had a fear rooted deep within me that has driven my thoughts and actions my entire life. I sometimes made bad decisions because I made them from a place of fear. I could never feel at ease or at rest because the fear kept me in a hypervigilant state, always seeking to secure myself, wanting to feel safe but never feeling at ease. I have been afraid of people, of being rejected by people. I have been afraid of being left and abandoned, so I worked hard to make sure relationships were secure. I could not seem to get free from fear. I would confess it over and over to my priest, and he would pray for me and encourage me, but the fear was still there. After the prayer minister prayed for me in regards to my own sin and the sins of generations of my family, the Lord spoke to me and told me my mother had passed on to me a hatred of woman and a deep distrust of men. I confessed to the prayer minister that my mother had had two abortions after me. As the prayer minister prayed for me, I let out a loud wail from some place deep within me. All the pain of not being wanted at conception and of not accepting and embracing my own feminine self came out of me. The scream also released my voice, something I never could seem to find. I will always feel talked over and not heard. I didn't realize the significance of what happened at that moment until at least a week after I returned home.
One night I was driving home from dinner at a friend's house, and as I approached my street, it was blocked off by police cars. There had been a shootout between gang members outside my gated condo community. I started to go to that place of fear again, and then I stopped myself. I said, "Another lives in you. You no longer have to be afraid of anything. He is with you." Then I was at peace and knew it was okay. I have experienced this new response many times since returning from MPC. I am different. Fear does not rule me any longer. I know the Lord delivered me from the fear, and I am almost certain it happened when I let out the scream.
Recently, the Lord showed me that I am not always a truth teller. Because of my fear of man, I sweep things under the carpet instead of confront them in truth and in love. I had to talk to a friend this week who did not listen to me when I expressed a boundary. I normally would just "let it go" and not make waves. The Lord showed me this was the same as lying. It is lying. The fear does not rule me any longer, but I need to practice a new way. I have a voice now. My voice, my ability to speak the truth in love, must come from my center, where Another dwells.
Healing of Memories: On Friday morning, Gino prayed for healing of memories, and my first memory was of me in the womb with God's hand on me. Nothing bad could happen to me because he held me. Next the Lord brought me into the hospital room where I was born. I saw Jesus holding me, and he had the most ecstatic, joyous expression on his face as he stared into my eyes. I was wanted and am wanted. As a young child, I was alone a lot. My brother and sister were in school by the time I was born. I have memories of being alone, listening to a book on a record player. I don't ever remember being read to. The Lord filled those memories up with his presence. I saw Jesus sitting on the floor of my bedroom listening to the "101 Dalmations" recorded book with me. And then I saw him sitting with me on my bed with his arm around me reading a book to me, and another picture of him outside in the backyard playing with me and the dogs. I was not alone. There were other memories, painful ones, in which I could see him present with me.
Since MPC, our little group from [hometown], has expressed to one another our desire to live from our centers, where Another dwells. This is not easy. We continue to meet together once a week, and during that time, we confess our sins to one another, pray for one another, and we are currently reading through The Healing Presence together. On the same evening, our priest is meeting with a group of men who are all struggling with pornography and sexual addiction. They do the same as our group, but they are reading through Crisis in Masculinity. These men have not ever attended an MPC.
Thank you so much for offering yourselves in this way for the life of the Body of Christ. I feel my words are very inadequate to express what is in my heart.
With much love,
A precious MPC attendee
Yes, words are inadequate, but we give our Lord all glory, honor, and praise.  Truly He is the Lord who heals us.  May you hear His healing word, and particularly in this Lenten spring the word that moves you to the deep beauty of repentance.  

Yours in Christ,
A poem, in loving tribute to Leanne
by Barbara Byers

A winter morn with silenced breath now stilling
Except that heavenward angels unseen come,
Swift, our beloved -- friend and mother-mentor...
Not earth-bound she, but free, beholding Him!

No gossamer girl, but sturdy on her path ascending,
Held faith unwavering, tried by joys and tears;
With earthy laugh, enchanting in its freedom,
Well-travelled hope grown surer o'er the years.

Those happy hours spent deep in contemplation,
Weaving His praise in the fabric of her day,
Then, listening, chose obedience in the hearing,
Went forth to serve His will on feet of clay.

Her Scottish roots sang joyously within her,
Her mother's prayers had bid her soar with wings;
Though oft in weakness, flowed the Spirit's power;
Our prophet-scholar, clarion herald of the King.

Belief so truly set in Incarnation,
Inviting us: "Behold the riven1 Christ!"
His resurrection life completing her baptism,
Her "Halleluia!" awed by His eternal light.

Always the Cross, the blood, the Presence gifted,
The true self blessed, broken image now restored;
Pointing us upward, outward, farther onward,
Beckoning our becoming, calling us to more.

How well she knew the real, incarnate Presence;
"Come, Holy Spirit" her continual cry;
With holy water fled the demon spirits,
As holiness and truth were lifted high.

Primordial cries, yet deeper still the healing,
Old wounds lost pow'r when she invoked His name,
Mem'ries long-held released now into freedom,
Communion's cup sufficient for our shame.

Mystery masculine and feminine unveiling,
Healing of will and receptivity,
Uniting mind and heart-desire, imparting
True imagination -- brilliant circuitry!

And grateful we for her trailblazing beauty,
Who took the Savior's road less traveled by,
Remember now this gift, this tender mercy:
Entrusting us pastoral care, pregnant with life.

We bid her words with clarity engrave us,
For pen flowed sure with words of vibrant grace;
We would have kept her longer if we could have,
Yet would not rob that glory face to face!

And all is certain, all is settled, all is finished --
Outside our time, she stepped complete in Christ,
Heard heaven's call, oh jubilant homecoming,
With this three-person'd God enthralled, alive!

1riven: split or torn

The Cross
By Leanne Payne
from her newsletter archives, Summer, 1993

The Cross is the Abyss of Wonders,
the Centre of Desires, the Schole of Virtues,
the Hous of Wisdom, the Throne of Love,
the Theatre of Joys and the Place of Sorrow;
It is the Root of Happiness,
and the Gate of Heaven.
Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditations
I know of no modern poet who could have penned these words.  There may be such a one whose lifelong meditation on Christ's act of redeeming the world approaches the depth of the understanding this seventeenth-century Anglican poet-clergyman had, but he would have to be described, along with the likes of C. S. Lewis, as a dinosaur that somehow miraculously survived, and then suddenly appeared in this our time with its full Judeo-Christian symbolic system intact.
I read Traherne's words to the precious folk in Denmark. I can still see the astonishment on one young man's face. His was a wonderful one that reflected utter amazement and mutely shouted, "What in the world do such words as those mean?" Perhaps for some of you one phrase stood out. Write out that phrase in your journal just now, and then listen to God about what it means. Let the Scriptures speak to you anew of Christ's Cross, and allow them to illumine the phrase that touched your soul. Whole books could be written on single phrases of Traherne's eulogy. Don't try to do that (just yet!), but begin to write out what echoed in your heart as you heard that truth.
Those of you whose hearts particularly resonated to the Cross as the "Abyss of Wonders" should not read the following until you've meditated upon it for yourselves.  This is how it echoed in Andy Comiskey's heart:
This means freedom from fear.
No matter what man has done to me, or will do.
No matter how badly I have fallen and have incurred the
consequences, all that raises its head above the
Lordship of Christ will die.
It dies as I dare to allow Jesus to reveal my sin
or that of another against me. I believe such revelation
is a risk - to face one's blackness, to step off the
ground of one's own seeming wholeness and into the
abyss of brokenness.
But that is where Jesus is found. He descended into the
abyss. In His crucifixion, He was swallowed up by the
blackness but not extinguished. In truth, the deeper He
descended and the weaker He became, the more He
revealed His power
For the abyss finds its end in Jesus. He established
the ground of the abyss by planting Himself at its
darkest, most sordid point, and then unfurling Himself
there, in glory.  He frees the disfigured to rise with
Him in newness of life, in order to restore them to
their true design.
Our private and interpersonal abysses find their end in
Jesus.  He establishes the wonder of His love and
creativity in those formerly hateful and barren places.
He unfurls there and raises up one like myself to
proclaim His substantial truth on the very ground once
claimed by the darkness.
Andy Comiskey, Denmark, 1993
I italicized the last sentence of the above in order to point out the incarnational reality inherent in Andy's words. The weapons of our warfare are incarnational; they have to do with the Real Presence of God with and within us. If I stand and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, and am not living in its incredible, substantive reality, if in other words, I am not married to Christ, and thereby a vessel that both holds and emanates His righteousness, I will be unable to speak and to be the truth our age is dying to hear. This gospel, in its incarnational form, that is, preached in the power of the Presence, delivers souls from the spirit of this age. It gains us a full divorce from Baal and Ashtoroth, Molech and Mammon, and espouses us to God -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It heals. I will do no good, no matter what I say and teach, if I am not myself a living epistle, one from whom the very Light and the very Holiness, and the very Glory of God Himself emanates -- even explodes into the lives of others who hunger for God and for meaning.

And that means I will be all the more human, fully human. The earth was given to us, the Scriptures tell us. I'll be of the earth, earthy, feet flat on the ground, toes dug into the good earth, cherishing it. Yet I'll be looking straight up to God, hands stretched up and out to Ultimate Reality, aware that God's Spirit lives in me, aware of my immortality and that the more fully human I am, the greater capacity I have to carry and manifest the eternal, the heavenly.
You may want to share what the Lord speaks to your heart in regard to one of Traherne's phrases.  Address such a sharing to MPC, P. O. Box 3792, Peoria IL 61612-3792.  Also, you may want to share about a healing you have received in a MPC conference, and we invite you to write that out as well. To write the story of our healing is nearly always to understand and receive more! We are listening in the Presence and celebrating God's mighty hand upon our lives.
Reprinted with permission, copyright 1999-2013 by Pastoral Care Ministries, Inc.
Image: Agnolo Gaddi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Spiritual Fathering and Godly Authority
by Sarah Colyn
Authority exercised with humility, and obedience accepted with delight
are the very lines along which our spirits live. (Weight of Glory, p. 170)
On becoming spiritual fathers and mothers.
God loves us and wants to bring us to life. His love is creative and procreative, and we humans are the consummate objects of His begetting love. He is always brooding over us with His fathering intentions, moving toward us, desiring that we become. In this relentless movement of His will, generation after generation, He is always raising up spiritual fathers and mothers to serve the becoming of His people. God Himself initiates spiritual fathering. To understand how someone becomes a spiritual father or mother we must begin with the desire and action of God. Bishop Kallistos Ware, esteemed Orthodox priest and teacher at Oxford, wrote a chapter about spiritual fathering in volume one of The Inner Kingdom: "Spiritual guides are ordained, not by human hands, but by the hand of God" (p. 129). The Spirit proceeds from the Father, is sent by the Son to those who trust in Him, and anoints His followers with the charisms of spiritual fathering. We'll return a bit later to what these charisms may be - these gifts that empower spiritual fathering. But first let's consider a bit more how someone becomes a spiritual mother or father.
God Himself ordains spiritual mothers and fathers, and when we study the lives of those who have worn this mantle well, they did not aim themselves at this job. Leanne has written about the moment in her life when she fell to her knees in conversion to a single resolve: to obey God's will (see chapter 9 of Heaven's Calling). After this prayer her life had a singular aim: "My eyes would now be solely on the object - on God Himself" (Listening Prayer, p. 138). In his chapter on the spiritual guide, Kallistos Ware relates stories of some extraordinary elders in the Orthodox tradition. What these spiritual fathers and mothers had in common was a wholehearted longing for communion with God. Ware describes these saints who fled to solitude: "They fled, not in order to prepare themselves [to guide and inspire others], but simply out of a consuming desire to be alone with God. God accepted their love, but then He sent them back as instruments of healing in the world from which they had withdrawn" (Inner Kingdom, p. 132). It seems that a true spiritual father or mother becomes one not by applying for the position, but by desiring nothing but God and then responding to His will. Oswald Chambers puts it this way: "Never choose to be a worker for God, but once God has placed His call on you, woe be to you if you 'turn aside to the right hand or to the left' (Deuteronomy 5:32). We are not here to work for God because we have chosen to do so, but because God has 'laid hold of' us" (My Utmost for His Highest, June 16).

If God ordains spiritual mothers and fathers, how do they end up in positions where they can exercise their gifts? The most natural way to discover that you are becoming a spiritual mother or father is that others will ask you to serve them in this way. When God ordains, fellow humans will identify by recognizing the gifting and seeking this person out. Kallistos Ware describes this process in which others approach, seek advice, and even ask to live under the care of someone who evidences the capacity to give spiritual fathering: "Thus it is his spiritual children who reveal the elder to himself" (Inner Kingdom, p. 130). Sponsorship in A.A. and other 12-step recovery programs is a modern manifestation of spiritual mothering and fathering. Sponsors are revealed in the same way Ware describes - identified by those who need sponsoring. As A.A.'s literature on sponsorship describes, "Often, the new person simply approaches a more experienced member who seems compatible, and asks that member to be a sponsor. Most A.A.s are happy and grateful to receive such a request. An old A.A. saying suggests, 'Stick with the winners.' It's only reasonable to seek a sharing of experience with a member who seems to be using the A.A. program successfully in everyday life" (Questions & Answers on Sponsorship, p. 9).
Wonderfully, to become a spiritual mother or father is to be ordained by God and identified by members of His body. What then of the many lay and clergy leaders in our churches today whose appointment may have been more bureaucratic than charismatic? Perhaps there are some leaders reading this essay who have been assigned to a spiritual leadership role and feel the pain of inadequate preparation for this calling. Surely there are some of us who, rather than being sent by God from our desert cell, were nominated by a Tuesday-night committee. And perhaps some of us have mistakenly tried to rise to this challenge in our own strength or turned to the wisdom of the world for tools and techniques to lead others. Kallistos Ware offers us compassion and extends a lively hope:
Under the pressure of outward circumstances and probably without clearly realizing what is happening to us, we assume the responsibilities of teaching, preaching, and pastoral counseling, while lacking any deep knowledge of the desert and its creative silence. But through instructing others we ourselves perhaps begin to learn. Slowly we recognize our powerlessness to heal the wounds of humanity solely through philanthropic programs, common sense and psychoanalysis. Our self-dependence is broken down, we appreciate our own inadequacy, and so we start to understand what Christ meant by the "one thing that is necessary" (Lk 10:42). That is the moment when a person may by the divine mercy start to advance along the path of the starets [spiritual fathers and mothers]. Through our pastoral experience, through our anguish over the pain of others, we are brought to undertake the journey inwards and to seek the hidden treasure-house of the Kingdom, where alone a genuine solution to the world's problems can be found.... Provided we seek with humble sincerity to enter into the "secret chamber" of our heart, we can all share to some degree in the grace of spiritual fatherhood or motherhood (Inner Kingdom, p. 135).
It is not too late for any of us to grow in this "grace of spiritual fatherhood or motherhood"; there is a radiant path through this world, and walking this path in obedience to God will cause us to become, including as spiritual fathers and mothers. Perhaps we will find ourselves more able to stay on that path if we highlight what it looks like when we leave the path. When those attempting to serve as leaders "turn aside to the right hand or to the left" (Deuteronomy 5:32), certain characteristic errors ensue. On the one hand, spiritual mothers and fathers can assert carnal forms of power over those they are called to serve.  This error is based on an ersatz masculinity. On the other hand, spiritual mothers and fathers can turn aside from God's will by failing to exercise godly authority. When Christian leaders bend to worldly pressure and unhealed fear, they fail to come into the true masculine. Let's consider these two errors in turn that we might better discern how to walk on the narrow but radiant path of obedience to our Father's ways.
Ersatz masculine and false images of spiritual fathering
In chapter 5 of Crisis in Masculinity Leanne explains how Christian maturity requires that the natural masculine drive be tempered by God's own masculine will. If a man does not find himself in union with God, he will continue to seek affirmation, self-acceptance, and identity in what he can accomplish. And in chapter 4 of The Healing Presence Leanne writes about how natural masculine giftedness becomes perverted by the Fall: "[the] power to initiate can turn into a raw drive toward power" (p. 66). In this important chapter she illuminates the dangers for both the church and family when the ersatz masculine supplants the real. It is not difficult to see how Christian leaders would misuse positions of authority to serve their own ego and trespass against those they are called to serve if they do not remain centered in Christ. Jesus explained this inevitability to His followers: "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them" (Matthew 20:25 NRSV). He went on to explain how it is in His Kingdom: "the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve." To offer spiritual fathering is to serve -- to serve our Father's will in the life of the one seeking fathering. As Bishop Ware puts it, "The abba is... a fellow-servant of the living God; not a tyrant, but a guide and companion on the way. The only true 'spiritual director,' in the fullest sense of the word, is the Holy Spirit" (Inner Kingdom, p. 144).
Spiritual fathering is not about being recognized as superior or being given a special title or position. In Matthew 23 we have the record of Jesus cautioning His disciples about this very temptation. He knew better than anyone how hierarchical inequality is "evil in the world of selfishness and necessity" but "good in the world of love and understanding" (C. S. Lewis, Miracles, printed in Complete Signature Classics, p. 276). If we are "loving" the way identifying as a spiritual mother or father strokes our ego or props up our false self, we leave the Vine and fail to love truly. As Lewis said, "It is indeed only love that makes the difference" (p. 276). As Leanne wrote in chapter 9 of Restoring the Christian Soul, spiritual maturity requires that we know the "bad guy" within. Those who are called to spiritual fathering must become especially well acquainted with Christ's warning here: there is bad guy in every one of us who schemes to win special standing, seeks a distinguished title, and craves recognition as especially admirable. For those in positions of authority or leadership, the question is not, "Do I struggle with pride?" but rather, "How did pride tempt me today?" Jesus gives His beloved followers the antidote to this weakness: "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 23:11 KJV). C. S. Lewis articulated this key principle of spiritual fathering in Miracles: "To be high or central means to abdicate continually: to be low means to be raised: all good masters are servants: God washed the feet of men" (Lewis, p. 278 in Complete Signature Classics).

At times the Body of Christ suffers under ersatz spiritual fathering that is formalized into a program or institutional structure. This occurred with what became known as the Shepherding Movement that developed in charismatic circles during the 1970s. (For those who aren't familiar with this movement, the emphasis was on creating structures in the local church that would provide accountability for each believer in submission to a "shepherd," a designated spiritual authority figure who "covered" each member under him.) Believers who have been injured through distorted teaching and practices regarding authority and obedience continue to receive healing through the cross of Christ to this day. True spiritual fathering is never coercive, and even in instances where spiritual fathers or mothers call the ones they are serving to obedience, influence is never sought through threats or force. Bishop Ware speaks most plainly on this issue: "Do not force people's free will. The task of our spiritual father is not to destroy our freedom, but to assist us to see the truth for ourselves; not to suppress our personality, but to enable us to discover our own true self, to grow to full maturity and become what we really are" (p. 145). As is always God's merciful way when the Church is afflicted with dangerous errors, leaders of the Shepherding Movement were called to repentance. This statement of apology from one of those leaders, Bob Mumford, models the humility required of true spiritual fathers while confessing to the great harm caused by those moving in the ersatz masculine:  
Accountability, personal training under the guidance of another and effective pastoral care are needed biblical concepts... However, to my personal pain and chagrin, these particular emphases very easily lent themselves to an unhealthy submission resulting in perverse and unbiblical obedience to human leaders. Many of these abuses occurred within the spheres of my own responsibility. For the injury and shame caused to people, families, and the larger body of Christ, I repent with sorrow and ask for your forgiveness (Mumford's statement of apology published in Shepherding Movement by S. David Moore, p. 173).
I would suggest that we are more prone to the ersatz masculine when we have a low view of God that fails to appreciate the awesome power of Incarnational Reality. A leader who lacks faith in God's great secret - "Christ in you, your hope of glory" - is more likely to place faith in his own methods of training others or rely on the control of legalism or coercion. One who offers true spiritual fathering depends wholly on the real spiritual director, the Holy Spirit, and invites the one being served into personal relationship. As Bishop Ware explains, "This personal contact protects the disciple against rigid legalism, against slavish submission to the letter of the law. He learns the way, not through external conformity to written rules, but through seeing a human face and hearing a living voice. In this way the spiritual mother or father is the guardian of evangelical freedom" (p. 146). It is also worth mentioning here that the commitment of spiritual mothers or fathers to the ones they are serving can also tempt some to the practice of substitution. Leanne writes of this confusion that can harm spiritual leaders who over-identify in sympathy or concern with those they care for (see chapter 13 of The Healing Presence). With all due respect to Bishop Ware, I would humbly caution readers regarding his suggestion that spiritual fathers and mothers "make others' suffering their own" (Inner Kingdom, p. 138).  Just as the Holy Spirit is the real spiritual director, Christ is the only redeemer, and the proper work of spiritual mothers and fathers is to point to Him as the source of all life and hope.
The true masculine and godly authority
We live in a day that is impoverished of true masculinity, and therefore of godly authority. This poverty has devastating consequences for the structures essential to human life - most obviously our families and churches. Leanne was compelled to write Crisis in Masculinity to teach the church to pray for healing for this cultural epidemic. I believe one reason Leanne's ministry continues to grow in its reach even beyond her lifetime is that God moves through MPC to restore the divine masculine to His body, and to clergy and ministry leaders in particular. To put it simply, the Church cannot serve the world in her full power without the operation of godly authority. As Leanne wrote in Heaven's Calling, "There is no greater need today than for knowledgeable and noble men in authority everywhere, capable of courageously speaking the truth both in the church and in the public square" (p. 292). In her memoir Leanne described her personal wrestling with this deficit in the Church as she sought covering for the work God had called her to do.
Even priests such as Fr. Winkler, were they to be found, were having great difficulty going forward due to problems at higher levels of the institutional church. I was searching for godly authority, which is what hierarchy is supposed to provide, and like Fr. Winkler, could not find it. Increasingly, faulty seminary training together with political correctness had robbed even the better clergy and bishops from the ability to rightly name sin, confront it, hear confessions, and minister into the lives of penitents - the basis of all healing prayer rites and that which brings into our midst the power of God to heal (Heaven's Calling, p. 233).

Spiritual mothers and fathers must love the truth and love those they are serving enough to speak the truth. Serving God's will requires us to become men and women who can wield authority rightly to correct sin and extract good from evil in the world around us. We learn to pray for the healing of the will: Descend into me, divine, masculine, eternal will! As C. S. Lewis writes, "A father half apologetic for having brought his son into the world, afraid to restrain him lest he should create inhibitions or even to instruct him lest he should interfere with his independence of mind, is a most misleading symbol of the Divine Fatherhood" (Problem of Pain, p. 387 in Complete Signature Classics). It is Christ's own living presence within that enables spiritual mothers and fathers to transcend the fear and weakness of human inadequacy for the sake of God's begetting purposes. Bishop Ware writes of the mysterious power of the saint who abides in Christ: "Such is the pattern of spiritual fatherhood or motherhood. Establish yourself in God; then you can bring others to His presence. Each must learn to be alone, and so in the stillness of their own heart they will begin to hear the wordless speech of the Spirit, thus discovering the truth about themselves and about God. Then their word to others will be a word of power, because it is a word out of silence" (Inner Kingdom, p. 133). As small as we know ourselves to be, we also know that the Holy Spirit delights to come as counselor and helper, moving through us with His mighty presence. In the end, becoming a spiritual father or mother happens in the same manner as all becoming: we listen for the voice of our Beloved and obey all that we hear Him say.  

Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour, 2000. Print.
Lewis, C. S. The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses. New York: HarperOne, 1949. Print.
Lewis, C. S. The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics. San Francisco: Harper, 2002. Print.
_____. The Problem of Pain. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001. Print.
Moore, S. David. The Shepherding Movement: Controversy and Charismatic Ecclesiology. London: T & T Clark International, 2003. Print.
Payne, Leanne. Crisis in Masculinity. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1985. Print.
_____. Heaven's Calling: A Memoir of One Soul's Steep Ascent. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2008. Print.
_____. The Healing Presence: Curing the Soul through Union with Christ. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1995. Print.
_____. Listening Prayer: Learning to Hear God's Voice and Keep a Prayer Journal. Paperback ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1999. Print.
Questions & Answers on Sponsorship. New York, N.Y.: A.A. Grapevine, 1976. Print.
Ware, Bishop Kallistos. The Inner Kingdom. Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary, 2000. Print. 


Photo of Leanne Payne and Manfred Schmidt courtesy of Jean Holt.

"Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn derivative work: carulmare [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

"David" (Michelangelo) by Korido (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.