Mentoring can be an aspect of fathering but certainly cannot be the definition of it. Several dynamics of natural fathering may speak to the function of spiritual fathers, but natural fathering cannot be the model for spiritual fathering for several reasons.
Abraham was a father of nations by a natural-fathering-first function: his own flesh and blood would inherit and produce nations and kings of nations and provide fathering leadership for all nations naturally. This kind of fathering still exists in the world as an aspect of God’s strategy for nations. Yet, Abraham’s fathering through his own sons doesn’t describe the limits of his fathering. His calling to father nations involved him in God’s treatment of Sodom and Gomorrah and positioned him to intercede for a city state.
Spiritual fathering follows along those line today but functions SpiritFirst. The end game is still to father nations to fulfill their assigned purposes. Spiritual fathering individual and international grasps hold of a revelation of Divine destiny and purpose with spiritual power and authority to set destiny and purpose into place, prepare individuals and cultures through discipling to fulfill destiny and purpose, and prepare inheritors of this same functional model for future spiritual generations.
Spiritual fathering does not function the same as natural fathering. Several things are obvious about how fathering occurs naturally that are not obvious with respect to spiritual fathering. Each comes with roles, responsibilities, and relationships, but they are not defined the same way and do not function the same way.
Natural fathering involves marriage and covenant. Spiritual fathering covenant defines leadership roles differently from those of a husband, wife, and child. Spiritual covenant are between spiritual father and God, and that covenant between spiritual father and God is what the child is prepared to receive. There is covenant between father and child, but the covenant relationships and roles are different from those of natural fathering. The relationships are built with love but the relationships have a different function and motivation. One is the love of a father and the other is the love of the Father.
Every child is an heir by birth but every child must be prepared to inherit before he can function as an inheritor. Naturally-born children must mature in order to function as inheritors but their covenant relationship is between them and their parents, and they inherit natural things their parents actually own. Spiritual children are assigned and must mature to function as inheritors of assignment, and the covenant they inherit is between their fathers and God. They inherit spiritual purpose and promise by inheriting the covenant. The spiritual relationship between inheritors and fathers is unique.
Paul says that we can have many teachers but not many fathers. Teachers aren’t fathers although teaching is an aspect of fathering; father’s aren’t teachers although they teach. The role of a father is more than the role of a teacher, and a teacher functions without having a fathering relationship. Fathers are not great in number. Fathers must be available to many children depending upon the role the spiritual father fills in the kingdom, but the model for a father is not a teacher because the role a father has a different assignment. The inheritance children receive from spiritual fathers may come to them through preparation to function in it more than some “old enough to get what’s mine’ criteria.