| Ihor Zhakunets
Spiritual leadership in the home is difficult for a whole host of reasons. Near the top of that list is that men have vague and undefined notions of what that leadership looks like and what it pursues. This then makes the already difficult task of spiritual leadership even more so.
Here are five actual and particular ways to lead your family spiritually:
Take Responsibility. The fiasco in the garden of Genesis 3 brought with it devastating results and there was plenty of blame to go around as is made clear with God confronting Adam, Eve and the serpent. But ultimately one person bears the responsibly for the fall – “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” Rom. 5:12. Why is this true? Because that is what leadership entails. Leaders are responsible. So, husbands, fathers, take responsibly. You may be able to point to others’ faults and circumstances, but don’t. Lead and take responsibility.
Lead in Spiritual Disciplines. Through hearing God’s voice in the Bible and talking with God through prayer, you have the means to abide and commune with Christ. You have what you need to cultivate a relationship with God. As a spiritual leader in the home, the apostle Paul points to your responsibility to help your family cultivate that relationship. In Eph. 5:21 – 6:4, Paul uses words like – nurture and cherish in the context of loving and caring for your wife and the phrase “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” in the context of parenthood. Men, God will hold you responsible for the spiritual health of your family. Lead them in spiritual disciplines. Model the disciplines, keep your family accountable for their engagement in the Word and prayer and develop a plan for family worship.
Pursue the Church. A Christian’s relationship with Christ is personal but not private. Because God is our Father, we have other brothers and sisters and God has designed that our spiritual growth into Christlikeness takes place in that community. The author of Hebrews warns Christians of the spiritual danger if they neglect to meet together, to encourage and stir one another up – in essence if they neglect to live as a church (Heb. 10:24-25). Spiritual leadership in the home demands that you protect your family from this danger and guide them into the spiritual growth that takes place in the community of the redeemed – the church. Men, lead your family to pursue church. Lead your family into church membership. Lead your family into faithful attendance. Lead your family into service alongside the local church. Lead your family to see church as a priority.
Model the Gospel. What does it look like to functionally live out what you claim to believe about the Good News of Jesus Christ? It means spiritual leaders do not pretend to be sinless. If you believe the gospel, you believe that you are a sinner. This means we live a life of repentance and often of open repentance. Spiritual leadership demands that we be quick to repent before God, before our wives and our children (James 5:16). Men, lead by example – be the first to apologize and the first to forgive. Model these implications of the gospel.
Don’t Compartmentalize Worship. All of life is about God (1 Cor. 10:31). Lead your family to embrace and enjoy this reality. For you as a leader it means showing what it looks like to honor God when you’re singing on Sunday morning or dealing with a frustrating neighbor. It means praying about missions, sick friends, the family budget, vacations plans, car repairs, safety, and the lost dog. It means modeling gratitude to God for food, a job, a roof, toys, medicine, opportunities and even hardships. Whether purposefully or not, you are shaping your family’s worldview – their understanding of reality. Men, lead and shape it in such a way that reflects and points to the ultimate reality. Don’t only be a spiritual leader on Sundays.
Men’s Ministry Focus:
1. Which of these five avenues of leadership tends to be most difficult for you? Why?
2. Which of these five avenues of leadership comes most naturally to you? Why?
3. What avenue would serve your wife most during this season of life?
4. What avenue would serve your children most during this season of life?
5. Have you opened yourself up to accountability in this area of discipleship?