The third level of maturity that John gives us is that of parents. Parents not only

reproduce babies. They also nurture, protect and feed their children to enable them to

grow up to full maturity.

   Being a spiritual “father” is not exclusive to those who are in full time ministry. This

is for every Christian. It’s for “he who believes in Me”. We are now seeing baby

Christians growing quickly and becoming mothers and fathers of others within a year,

just as it was with the early church. However, finding parents in the early church was not


   In the natural, a good father wants to raise children to their greatest potential and

(hopefully) surpass what he has achieved. He will sacrifice himself so they can achieve

this. Good spiritual fathers will believe God for great spiritual sons and daughters, and

will pour their life into them in the hope that their spiritual children will have a greater

ministry, just as Jesus did with His sons.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do

also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12


   On the other hand, some don’t have a father’s heart and instead, have an “older

brother” complex. What do we mean by an “older brother” complex?

   Back in the mid eighties we conducted many power evangelism ‘Jesus Heals’

Crusades in India and as a result, hundreds of thousands heard the gospel. One day the

Lord told me that I was at a crossroads in my ministry. He showed me that if I continued

with these crusades my ‘reputation’ would grow and eventually my name would be

recognised world wide.

   “That doesn’t sound all that bad,” I thought to myself. However, He went on to

explain there was another road I could take.

   “I really don’t need another healing evangelist.” He explained. “I have taught you

many things in regard to the leading of My Spirit and I have need for many who can

equip My people.”

   It was rather obvious that the potential of having tens of thousands of believers

reaching into every nook and cranny of society with His power could do much more than

one healing evangelist.


    He then went on to tell me that my goal was to raise up those who could and would

have a greater impact on that world than my own ministry. Immediately I responded

with, “That’s exciting!” However, within a few short days my enthusiasm waned.

    “Greater impact than me?” I questioned. “What about my ministry?”

    “You’ve got a problem!” He quickly responded.

    “What’s my problem?”

    “You’ve got an older brother complex.”

    I was mystified. “An older brother complex….What’s that?”

    He reminded me of the story of the prodigal son, who on his return, received many

blessings from his father.

    “Who had a problem with that?” He questioned.

    “The older brother,” I replied.

    “What was the problem?”

    “He didn’t want the younger brother to receive greater blessings than him,” I replied

… with a growing conviction.

    “That’s the older brother complex and that’s your problem. You really don’t want to

see your younger brothers and sisters do greater things than you!” He said quietly.

    I was shocked at what was being revealed in my heart. However, my mind was still

battling how I was to release others to do greater things and continuing my own ministry.

I had an expectation of my own ministry and reputation continuing to grow. Although

those I was discipling were growing as well, I pictured them endlessly remaining a little

less in stature and reputation than myself.

    “Can’t we all continue to grow together?” I asked Him. I then quickly reminded Him

of His promise, “You told me in John 14:12 that the works that You did I would do also.”

    “There’s that older brother again”, He answered.

    “No Lord”, I quickly replied. “I’m just quoting your Scripture.”

    “Do you really want to be like Me?” He asked patiently.

    “Of course!” was my immediate reply.

    “I wanted My spiritual sons to do bigger and better things than I ever did.”

    “No!” I protested. “Who could do it better than you? You’re Jesus!”

    He went on to say, “You only quoted half of John 14:12. What did the other half say?”

Of course, He goes on to tell His disciples;

“…the works that I do will he do also and greater works will he do…”

       “If you want to fully mature into My image, your next stage of growth is to develop

    from an elder brother into a father. A good father in the natural wants his children to

    grow up and do bigger and better things than himself.”

Further Clarity

   He then gave me the following parable.

   A man is a successful state manager of a company and is earning in excess of

$250,000 per year. He is offered the chance to run the national office in another country

where, with all the incentives and bonuses, he would be a multi millionaire within a few

years. He turns down the offer, explaining that his son is doing a specialized course at

university and at this time needs all the family support he can get. The man is overlooked

for future promotion because he’s not considered a “company man”.


    Many years later, the son starts his own enterprise and one day comes to his father and

says, “Dad, I’ve made over a million dollars this year.” What does the father do? Does

he start to complain, telling his son what he sacrificed and what he could have been?

Does he accuse the son of being big headed? No, he puts his arm around him, looks him

in the eye and says, “That’s my boy, I’m proud of you son.”

    Jesus is the model of the perfect spiritual father. He poured his life into His sons and

then sacrificed His own life and ‘career’ to enable His sons to potentially achieve more

than He did. When Jesus saw His disciples doing what He did and even greater things,

His heart would have burst with pride and joy.

    He had proven himself to be a successful father.


   The Lord went on to show me that ‘my’ ministry was to continue to model and to raise

‘sons’ as He has done.

   “When you stand before Me I will ask how many sons and daughters with great

ministries you raised. Your glory will not so much be in what you did in your personal

ministry but in the greatness of your sons and daughters.”

   Older brothers, by nature, want to have the limelight and are highly competitive with

the younger. “Older brother” ministries will be threatened by others, will want to control

and suppress them and are more than happy for them to leave “home”. The few who

have this tendency will need to grow up and leave their insecurity behind them. This

need for recognition leads to suppression not only of our future leaders but all of the

saints who are subject to them.

   This spirit, unfortunately, does not confine itself to a congregational pastor or a home

church leader. The spirit of competition flows across the whole Body. An “older

brother” ministry sees themselves competing with the churches in his area or within his

own denomination. The spirit of it says, “He who has the most people attending – wins.”

    Wrong! This attitude directly cuts across the spirit of the unity God is restoring to His

church. Instead of seeing themselves as “the” local church, they should see themselves

as one of the communities of the local church. They will need to see themselves as part of

the five fold ministry in that locality. 1Cor 1:12


Extract from “The Spirit-Led Life” by Stuart Gramenz

Reprinted with permission

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