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My earthly father left me the legacy of integrity, and I am grateful for it. He always told me, "Son, if you give someone your word, keep it—or die trying."
Spiritual fathering requires us to live peaceful lives that are full of integrity—ever keeping our eyes on the prize. As you live these godly principles before your children, you will be a shining example of Jesus that will shape and guide their lives.

1. Be an example by living free of anxiety.
The Word tells us to, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).

Be anxious for nothing, pray with thanksgiving, and let God's perfect peace keep your heart and mind. That's how God wants us to live today. He tells us to be anxious for nothing. We should pray, thank God, and then enjoy His peace! As fathers in the faith, we should be passing down a legacy of stress-free living to our children.

2. Be an example by keeping the heavenly prize in focus.
Philippians 3:14 says we need to be, "Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us."

Olympic athletes do not eat all they want or work out only when they feel like it. They go through rigorous discipline for years in order to have one chance at some fleeting glory. They deny themselves legitimate pleasures and push themselves to the limits just for the chance of winning a medal that eventually will tarnish and be forgotten by following generations.

When we consider the magnitude of the heavenly prize—eternal rank and reward with a crown that doesn't fade away—how much more should we be willing to discipline ourselves and serve God?

We should be prepared to serve Him in season and out of season, when it is convenient and popular and when it is not, when we feel like it and when we don't. The eternal reward when we reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven will be well worth our best efforts!

Writing as a spiritual father in his second epistle, John admonishes his children in the Lord: "Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward" (2 John 8). John understood that some will receive a full reward while others will lose what they have worked for and receive only a partial reward—or no reward at all!

3. Be an example by having integrity.
Spiritual fathers need to consciously and consistently serve as examples of integrity. Proverbs 20:7 says, "The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him." This is true of both natural and spiritual children.

Integrity has to do with honesty and uprightness, both publicly and privately. David said in Psalm 101:2, "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart [heart of integrity]."

Perfect is the same Hebrew word translated "integrity" in Proverbs 20:7. This indicates that a righteous man walks in integrity in the privacy of his own house, where no one else can see or hear him. A person of integrity is the same privately as he or she is publicly. Spiritual fathers need to be models of integrity.

My earthly father left me the legacy of integrity, and I am grateful for it. He always told me, "Son, if you give someone your word, keep it—or die trying." He lives that way and has passed on the blueprint to me. So breaking my word is not an option. It's the same for every person of integrity.

It is important to understand that I am not talking about maintaining a standard of sinless perfection. No one qualifies there except Jesus. However, I am talking about having an honest and an upright heart. People of integrity endeavor to do what is right and to keep their word, even if it costs them.

Take someone under your wing and teach him or her through the Scriptures and by example that it is never optional for a Christian to lie, cheat, or steal. Teach him that honesty and uprightness are Christ-like qualities that all believers should demonstrate in their lives.

This is the way of a spiritual father. It will not only bring a reward to you, but it will also bring people to the Savior—because your life is the only Bible that some people will ever read. Your life is the only sermon that some people will ever hear preached. It is a awesome responsibility!

Source: The Miracle of Mentoring by Bayless Conley
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Bayless Conley
Web site: Cottonwood Church
Bayless Conley is a pastor and speaker known for his clear presentation of the Gospel and the way he applies the life-changing truth of God's Word to everyday life. It's this same truth that radically turned his life around when a 12-year-old boy shared the Gospel with him many years ago. Bayless' unique background and remarkable testimony have enabled him to reach a diverse audience of people globally. In 1979, God called Bayless to share His Word on television, and in 1984, the broadcast was launched. Today, the Answers with Bayless Conley broadcast is impacting lives around the world in numerous languages.

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