With Mother’s and Father’s Day just around the corner, it seems a good time to address a recent disturbing trend being voiced from some pulpits and in various public forums, the apparent existence of “The Orphan Spirit”. Seems like this nasty critter rears its head when people have the nerve to expect accountability and character in those they deem to be leaders of whatever group they are a part of, especially when they have the audacity to express this expectation publicly. However, we have observed a fascinating trend that when true fathers and mothers are present it seems there are no orphans to be found. Perhaps, the supposed existence of an orphan spirit could be better labelled “The Orphan Spirit Hoax”.
Those of us who have had the privilege of relationship with a true father or mother, whether the actual parents who raised us or others who have taken on that role in other situations, can likely name the characteristics of these special people. Selfless, compassionate, honest, giving of time and resources, courageous, protecting and empowering are but a few examples that spring to mind. Being part of a family, workplace or even sports team that has experienced this type of parent is life-altering and in many ways a foundation for life that can be drawn on again and again. Unfortunately, the absence of such an influence can be like a wound that never heals which prevents us from functioning with any sense of normalcy or from living a prosperous life. How cruel then that one who has never experienced a true father or mother be accused of harbouring an orphan spirit. That is like accusing a starving person that we refuse to feed of having a spirit of hunger. Preposterous!
Admittedly, we live in a time in history where expectations of leaders have never been higher. With the availability of information through the internet and social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook it is frighteningly easy to create a persona and apparent reputation and also to destroy one. Leaders and parents of all kinds can be easily tempted to place the blame on those with the high expectations. This is a no-win proposition that too often results in abusive behaviour, usually on the part of the “parent” in the equation. Hence the easy out of the apparent existence of an orphan spirit. This nicely exempts the father or mother from any responsibility in the matter and also exempts the son or daughter by creating a convenient third party entity that can be blamed for the whole mess. Just another version of “the devil made me do it” or demon hunting at its worst.
Before drilling deeper into the orphan spirit hoax, a quick disclaimer to ensure a clear definition of what is not at issue here. Partly due to the fantasy relationships that are created by social media, mass communications and other very shallow personal interactions there can be situations where a person fantasizes that a father/mother relationship exists that simply is not there. That is not what is being addressed here. The situation we are concerned with is one where there is a clear parental relationship, either by blood or mutual agreement and understanding. Statements that indicate such an arrangement exists might be:
“I am his or her spiritual father.”
“He is a son of this house.”
“She is coaching/mentoring me.”
This is in no way suggesting that any of these arrangements are healthy, wise or something to be desired but only indicate that a real connection exists instead of a fantasy in the minds of one person or the other.
It is in these situations that the one supposedly being parented can raise legitimate concerns of selfishness and abuse toward one they expected nurturing, empowering and character from, too often triggering the accusation they are operating in an orphan spirit. This is nothing but a self-protection mechanism on the part of the abuser and power hungry leader to avoid dealing with the real issue. If they were behaving like a true father or mother, there would be no orphans anywhere to be found. Put another way, if you are going to talk the talk then you better walk the walk.
In closing, consider these words from the Apostle Paul, a true father:
“For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world–right up to this moment. I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” 1 Corinthians 4:9-16
Ask yourself, were there any orphan spirits in Paul’s presence?
Or to put it another way, how can an orphan spirit exist within your group of people if true fathers and mothers are present? How is it possible that they can co-exist?