Slavery to Sonship

In 2002, I was a new father spinning plates while working 3 part time jobs.

Until that time, I felt pretty decent about how I handled my life and walk with God (key word ‘I’).  I was pretty sure that I was Super Man and didn’t understand how I could be dropping so many plates at one time.   In 2017, I heard a teaching from Sonny Misar called ‘Journey to Authenticity‘ and I now realize that season was my crash from the “warrior” stage of life.  I had run out of gas and was thoroughly unimpressed with myself.  Not only was I frustrated with myself, internally I felt anger toward everything and everyone around me because it all reminded me of my inadequacy. At the time, it felt like I was done for but it turned out to be one of the best gifts I ever received.

I thought I was just stressed and overwhelmed, but Father God was using the pain and pressure to set me free from relying on my own performance to be at peace. He was determined to get a critical message through to me. It was the most transformational message He ever taught me…  . .  that I was not serving to be loved, I serve because I am already completely loved.

** I share some of my story in the audio version of a talk I gave called “Slavery To Sonship” (Click -> for ‘Slavery to Sonship’ Audio message ) with notes further below or just an abbreviated synopsis  HERE.

My Personal Encounter

As a young man in college and soon after, I wanted to be and do great things for God.  I was surrounded by amazing people, leaders and mentors who were ahead of me in the journey, some of which had literally risked their lives in dangerous parts of the world for the Kingdom of God.

Maybe you can relate but, in my mind, “great” looked like  _________.   I had a definition of what great was and it involved doing a list of impressive things.    The truth is, in many ways, I wasn’t trying to impress God, I was trying to impress myself.   For a season, I was impressed by my performance for until it crashed in 2002.  Between part time jobs, being a husband and a new father, I was too busy to keep up all the “good work”.   I was not able to keep up well in any of my jobs or my family so I was no longer impressed with myself or my great spirituality. I was so burnt out on ministry and trying to keep up my great performance that I ended up becoming very angry with myself, God and everyone else in the world. Then in the fall of 2002, I went to a conference (the kick off of 24/7 prayer at IHOP, Kansas City) and in the middle of it Father said to me “Don’t ever perform for my love again!  I don’t want your stuff (your spiritual acts, service, etc.), I want your heart”

“I don’t want your stuff or what you can do for me.

I want your heart.”   God

I was undone.  I realized His love for me was never based on what I could do to begin with.  He loved me because I was His child and His love was not conditionally based on my performance for Him or others.   That was such good news because my “performance” was a pile of rubble!  I was learning that what I did matters and makes a difference, but His love toward me was not contingent upon those things!

From Slavery to Sonship

Why do I use the phrase from “slavery to sonship”?

We all have a different pictures of family norms, but in a healthy family, what does a son or daughter do to be accepted and loved by their father?   Nothing.

My children have a few talents and skills but they are not the best in the world at anything they are doing.  However, they are still my favorite kids in the world simply because they are mine!   Knowing God as a Father who completely loves and provides for us is what I call living from a place of “sonship”.

In contrast, what does a slave do to be accepted by a master?   That depends on the master, but, normally, a slave has to perform well to be acceptable.  A slavery mentality is not one that is a peace and rest in being loved, but just hopes to be tolerated or accepted, at best, because their performance is good.

A large percentage of people relate to God as a slave trying to impress or be accepted by a master based on their performance.  We need a transformation of mind and heart that begins to operate from being loved not for it.

Pleasure or Performance

I found that when I am not at rest and home in Father’s love I will either find fulfillment by seeking  pleasure (medicating or numbing the pain, frustration and disappointment with pleasure, play or addictions) or performance (be a good person, get the promotion, make more money, make people happy, impress and look good to self and others).  When we are receiving His love and He has our heart, not our performance, all the “stuff” (we do for Him and others) is a by-product of being loved not a quest to be loved.

When our motivation for serving God and others is to be loved or to “make the grade”, it is actually not possible to purely love others because our motivation is to get something instead of give something.

What’s Your Address?

We all have an address.  I have had 7 different addresses in my lifetime.  One of the first things we are taught to memorize as a child is our address and I can still remember the address of my very first home as a child.

But, did you know that your heart has an address?   In John 15 (MSG), Jesus said, “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love.”  

Make yourselves at home.   Do you know what that tells me?  It tells me that we all have the ability to decide what the address of our heart is going to be.   Home is the place we rest, refresh and refuel.  Where do you go to rest, refresh and refuel?  Do you look to people, relationships, work, pleasure or activity to try to refresh and refuel your heart?

Look at what Jesus goes on to say about making his home and address in the love of the Father, That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.  I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.” John 15 MSG

His secret to a life of whole and mature joy was to make his home in the Father’s love for him.  He perfectly demonstrated what  life of “sonship” should look like.  It may seem impossible to you where you are at today, but when we begin to think like Jesus, our lives will more and more reflect what his life on earth looked like.

This is the truth for every child of God.  It is also a life-long journey to continue to increase in our belief and understanding of what we already possess.  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the love of the Father for you today and show  you any place that you still approach God as a slave trying to perform for His love and acceptance.   Father delights in sharing His heart with us, if we will dare!

Just below are some questions to help process and make it a little more real to you and then below those are the study notes from the ‘Slavery to Sonship’ Audio message if you would like to follow along or dig a little deeper with some verses or additional insights.

Process it alone with some coffee or discuss it with some friends:  

  1. When you think of the word ‘father’ does it bring a good or negative feeling or picture to your mind?  Why?
  2. Do you feel celebrated or tolerated by Father God and why so?
  3. Take a look at the ‘Slavery vs. Sonship’ chart HERE.   Are there any of them that you can relate to?
  4. Would you say you feel at “home” in the love of the Father or tend to lean toward performance (impress self and others, get the promotion, be popular, noticed or praised, make more money) or pleasure (play, entertainment, food, sex, addictions, etc.) to find comfort and a sense of rest or relief?
  5. Ask Father to bring light and healing to places you are not “at home” in His love, acceptance and delight in you.

Slavery vs. Sonship Study Notes

Have you ever been to an amusement park and you find the map of the park at the front entrance as you walk in with the YOU ARE HERE arrow?  In order to know where you are going, you first have to know where you are at right now.   So where do we stand with the Father?

** Well, “You are here!” On the map.  This is where you are right now if you are in Christ!  Sonship and inheritance are already yours, lets take a look at some verses below… … .

  1. I am clean.  

John 13:10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you (speaking of Judas who would betray Him).”

2. Without fault. 

Colossians 1: 22 NLT Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. 23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.    

This is great news!  You are not perfect and Father is still working on your rough edges, but when He looks at you as His child He sees you holy, made right and blameless, because you have been given the righteousness of Jesus instead of your own!  And, then He says in v. 23, you must continue to stay in this truth and don’t drift away.

3. I have a home, my address is love.

John 15:9-10 MSG “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love. 11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

We all have an address in the natural, but did you know you have a spiritual address as well?   Colossians says you have been made perfect and His own and now Jesus says He chose to remain in Father’s love for Him.   You get to choose where you will live spiritually.  You can live as an outsider and believe you are unloved but Jesus not only gave us an invitation but instructions to remain at this address!   I love how He says, “That’s what I’ve done, made myself at home in His love!”   He is telling us His secret to joy and telling us we can and should do the same!

4. I am a co-heir with Christ.

Galatians 4:4 NIV But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

The lens with which you see the Father and yourself with will determine how fully you walk in it. “It’s not what I know, it is what I believe.”

The Process of Sonship 

1. Hireling – Need Based.  What can I get? Rescue me, do something for me.

Luke 9:38 A man in the crowd shouted to him, “Teacher, please come and look at my son, because he is my only child. 39 An evil spirit seizes my son

Luke 15 – Prodigal Son did not understand or value relationship, not at home in love. Watch out for number ‘1’.

This is not necessarily bad, we all have to begin our relationship with God by recognizing we are hopeless without Him and are in need of a rescue, but this is not where we want to stay.

2. Servant – Performance Based. What can I do? I do something for you.

Luke 22:33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Luke 15 – Older Brother only understood performance, not at home in love. Always grasping, never reaching. Did not dream he could be loved apart from what he did.

If you find yourself here, Father is not mad or disappointed with you.  He knows that your heart is to love and please Him but He has something better for you!

3.  Son – Love Based. Let’s do it together! I am yours and you are mine.

John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

Father – Luke 15 “It’s all yours, let’s be and build together!”

This is where we are motivated by love not for love.  We find Father as our infinite source of love, affirmation, comfort and strength and now we can partner with Him to give it away.   Ephesians 1:Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Slavery/Orphan Mindset vs. Sonship Mindset Chart  (You can download it here -> Chart Link )

1. Slave Thinking: Victim – “whoa is me”, I am powerless, helpless

Son Thinking: Overcomer – more than conquerors, I can do all things

2.  Slave Thinking: Poverty mindset – expectation of lack, take what you can get because you don’t have a Father looking out for you

Son Thinking:  Abundance – I have the riches of Christ, a wealthy and generous Father and His Spirit inside with unlimited wisdom and resource in every situation

3. Slave Thinking: Comparison – my value is based on being more or less than someone else, leads to pride “I am awesome or I am a loser”

Son Thinking: Family – Father gives me value and affirmation therefore I can celebrate you

4. Slave Thinking: Competition – I need to be the best to be blessed or have more value

Son Thinking: Team – I am with you and for you win or lose because we are in this together, your success is my success

5. Slave Thinking: Performance – striving because my worth is based on how well I do, the pressure is on me but right works don’t produce a right heart, relationships performance driven

Son Thinking: Rest – “It is finished”, you have been made righteous and enough in Christ, his yoke is easy, just say ‘yes’ and obey and let Him handle the results, a right heart produces right works, relationships driven by love

6. Slave Thinking: God is distant – He tolerates me in my weakness and imperfection

Son Thinking: God is near – Father loves being with me and I bring delight to Him as His child

7. Slave Thinking: Always Fall Short – I don’t measure up and deserve punishment

Son Thinking: Always In Line for Blessing – Christ fully measured up and gave His right standing to me – by His merit, Father wants to bless me, trained and disciplined not punished

8. Slave Thinking: Condemnation – I am bad and I need to keep a distance until you improve

Son Thinking: Conviction – “I am always drawing you closer and am committed to removing everything in your life that hinders love!”

9. Slave Thinking: Work to be someone – slave is accepted by his performance

Son Thinking: Work because I am someone – I am a son with favor, resources and influence and I make a difference

10. Slave Thinking: Fear – I am alone and without help or protection. I am tolerated at best.

Son Thinking: Confidence – You are with me and for me and will see me through, at home in Father’s love. I am celebrated by the Father!

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  1. Your post blessed me. What a reminder that we are sons and daughters. We are loved. We are co-heir with Christ. We have all we need because our Father has promised to provide for His Children. Thank you for sharing this post.


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