I have yet to see an arena of life where leadership is not absolutely critical. I was in the Navy for almost 8 years, and of course the direction and example provided by our officers and Chief Petty Officers was critical to an effective fleet. In my business experience, the company rose and fell on the leadership of our managers. In our church, in our schools, and especially in our homes leadership is absolutely critical for success.
No aspect of leadership is more critical in a home than the spiritual leadership that a husband and father provide. I ask couples that I mentor for marriage (what most call premarital counseling) to read several books. His last book is Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker’s Every Man’s Marriage. It is not a wimpy book; it takes us men on a ride and demands that we consider our commitment to God and our wife as intertwined.
I am reading it as my summer marriage builder and cannot recommend it highly enough. In their chapter on “serving as a spiritual leader” (pages 200-212) they set out a model of what it takes to lead spiritually. Men, as you read these rate yourself in each area on a 0-5 scale, with 5 being you’re all over it and 0 being a colossal failure. For a man to lead spiritually, they argue, he must:
- Develop the deepest knowledge of God’s Word: He doesn’t need a Bible college degree, but he should be committed to reading, knowing, and understanding the Bible. It should be a daily commitment (even 5 minutes!), and when practiced brings security to your family and respect from them to you.
- Become the best at submitting to Scripture: Along with biblical knowledge must come biblical obedience. A true, biblical man leads in submission to God and to changing those areas that need changing in life. He puts his own goals and desires behind the desire to submit to what God says his life should be.
- Be the most comfortable with worshiping at home: God created humanity to worship, and a man must lead his family in that. This means prayer time, alone, with his wife, and with the family. It means spiritual conversations at the dinner table when appropriate. It means spending family time in the Word (and if 1 and 2 are getting done, it won’t be hard). It even means being willing to sing to God at home or in the car. When the man of the house worships all the time it opens the door for the family to worship all the time.
- Be the most consistent in your prayer and devotional life: Not only must he be comfortable, he must also be consistent. Consistency brings intimacy with God, and that intimacy with Him will impact every area of life.
- Be the quickest in the family to forgive and ask for forgiveness: Forgiveness is the cornerstone of Christianity. (see 1 John 1:8-10 for the model of forgiveness in the Christian life) When we come consistently to God and ask forgiveness for our sin, it frees us to offer forgiveness quickly to others and also makes us seek forgiveness from our spouse and children when we hurt them. A biblical leader is quick to forgive and quicker to ask for forgiveness.
- Set the spiritual thermostat in his home: A man must be the one to set the standard of holiness, conduct, and commitment in his home. If he sets the bar low, the spiritual chill in the home will affect other areas. If he turns up the heat, the whole family will be allowed to as well. If dad is cold, though, the whole family must shiver.
So how are you doing? This will only help if you are honest with yourself. If you decide that you want to just give yourself all 5s, no one will call your bluff.* If you put a score of 1-5 on each one, that would mean that your score would be somewhere between 0-30. Where are you? If you were back in high school or college the grading curve might look like this:
- 27-30: A. You’re doing very, very well. No doubt your wife and kids are given every opportunity to live for Christ and your family life is at least moving in the right direction spiritually.
- 24-26: B. You are definitely doing well. Your leadership shows and your family is blessed for it. While there is room for improvement, you are leading in a positive direction.
- 21-23: C. You pass. You haven’t abandoned your post, and your wife and kids know that God is an important part of your life and should be in theirs as well. Perhaps you need to be more proactive in leading your family spiritually, but the foundation is there for you to do so.
- 20 and less: F. Your family can’t see a significant commitment to godliness and it hurts them. When God is not important to you, He is not important to them either.
No man is perfect…we all need to get better. I am working on making devotions that are not part of my sermon prep a more consistent part of my life, so there is definite room for improvement for me. Take this inventory, though, and ask yourself if you are comfortable with Jesus doing the grading.
Ladies, you too can take this quiz and see where you stand. How would you grade yourself in these areas? Where can you improve to allow Christ to change you from the inside out and make a difference in your marriage, your kids, your work, and your ministry?
As the adage goes, leadership is everything. Spiritual leadership in the home truly is everything.
- *Today that is. One day, though, Jesus will!