Spiritual leadership. Gulp. It’s a topic that can strike fear in the hearts of men. We read Ephesians 5:22-26 and there is no avoiding it: God has called men to be spiritual leaders in the home.
How in the world do we actually do that?
I get it. Some days it seems as complicated as my daughter’s AP Calculus homework.
But, don't let your hearts be troubled – it doesn't have to be that way. Let's look at 4 practical areas to focus on:
Your Own Spiritual Growth. Flat out – you can't lead anyone where you haven't gone yourself. Jesus says the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind" (Matthew 22:37-38). Husbands and fathers, are you personally pursuing a deeper relationship with God thru His Word, centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ? Does your family know that you have a time where you daily seek God in His Word and prayer? Do they see your relationship with God being of the highest importance to you? Here's one that hurts: do they see you actively putting sin to death? Even when it includes confessing sin and asking for forgiveness from family members? Until your own spiritual growth is a priority, it doesn't make much sense to try to lead others.
Your Wife's Heart. Next to loving God, we are called to love others as much as we love our own selves (Matthew 22:39). There is no closer neighbor than the one you share a bed with. Are you pursuing your wife? Knowing what is going on in her life – her cares, concerns, and victories? What is battling for territory in her heart? Are you leading her to God's Word to encourage her? Are you initiating prayer with her regularly?
Your Kid's Hearts. Now that you've addressed the most important two commandments, we have a foundation for leading our kids. We are called to not exasperate them, but to bring them up in the fear and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Are you praying for them regularly? Are you asking them how they are doing in their spiritual walks? Are you having the hard conversations with them about the sin in their lives and teaching them how to handle it? Are you having family times that include being in His Word and praying? Are you prioritizing church attendance and membership? Which leads us to…
Your Service In the Church. It's critical that you are plugged into a solid, Bible-preaching, Christ-centered local church where you can serve others (1 Peter 4:11). Does your family see you serving? Even better – do you serve together? Do you celebrate the church or tear it to shreds on the ride home? Do you show them you really value worshipping God as you stand and sing, track along with the sermon, and prioritize serving the body in humility?
Rest assured, this is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it is helpful in getting our minds around what it means for a man to spiritually lead his family. Let us all strive to better understand and walk in this as we all grow into the image of Jesus by His grace!