January 25, 2012

What Family Leadership Looks Like In My Home

In speaking to many men over the past few years I keep hearing a recurring theme. Guy after guy says something to the effect of, “I know I should be leading my home, I just don’t know what to do or where to start.” I give them a few ideas, share parts of my story and then wrap it up with “Just start doing something.”

So I decided I would pull back the curtain and let people know what it looks like in my home for me to lead out spiritually. This is in no way meant to be braggadocious on me or my wife. All credit and glory belongs to God alone. I wish I had time to tell of the immeasurable healing and restoration that He has brought into my family! Nor is this me trying to tell other men exactly how they should lead in their homes. Every home is unique and as such will operate a bit differently.

I’m merely trying to call attention to the fact that as men, we are the pastors of our families! This is our calling in life. It is our job to pass on our faith, teaching them who God is. We ARE leading our families whether we know it or not. The question is: Where and to whom are we leading them?

In this post I will focus on what family leadership looks like in regard to my children. I’ll deal with leading our wives in another post.

Most week day mornings before I go to work we sit down for just a few minutes after breakfast (or during) and start the day off with some Biblical truth. We just finished going through the book “Big Truths for Young Hearts” where the kids would memorize our “big idea” for the week (the chapter titles) and the verse that went along with it. We would spend just a few minutes talking about what the big idea and verse actually meant and how it applies to our lives. Then we prayed and I left for work. That usually took less than 10 min each morning. We just started going through the “Catechism for Boys and Girls”. I ask them a question and they give a memorized answer. Then I read one of the verses that go with the Q & A, we talk for a minute or two about it, pray and that’s it.

Family worship in the evenings is also very important. If the only times your kids see you sing, pray, or look at a Bible is in church on Sunday mornings you’re telling them by your actions how important God is to you and your family and nothing you say to them to the contrary will overturn that! Don’t let the term “family worship” scare you. You don’t have to have a full blown 1 hour worship service! Make it simple, make it short.

We usually try to have family worship/devotions about three nights a week. We don’t always follow the same format. Sometimes we sing a song, read our devotion, and pray. Sometimes we just read our devotion and pray. Sometimes we just sing a few songs and pray. The point is to make it a regular event to worship Jesus in your home as a family! When the older two kids were younger we would read a story from “The Jesus Storybook Bible” and they loved to act out the stories. Currently we are going through a book called “Long Story Short” where each devotion is laid out for you, points everything to Christ, and only takes about ten minutes.

Above all, don’t get discouraged if you have a few bombs. Trust me, you will have them. You will drop the ball! Don’t get discouraged if you think that your kids aren’t getting it or that they just don’t care (anyone who thinks this doesn’t happen has never tried it with a five year old boy). Be consistent! Keep going. Keep doing it.

Next, we simply talk about God a lot! My wife and I try to point them to Christ as much as we can. For instance if one of my kids talks about how good something tastes I will agree with them and then ask something like “I wonder who made this taste so good?”. They answer “God” and we eat lots of that good tasting food, giving Him thanks. If you watch a movie that has a hero in it, that should always remind us of the hero of the Bible and our hero, Jesus. You don’t have to get deep all the time and be weird, but make God-talk the norm around your home. Also, no question about God is “off limits.” If I don’t know the answer I simply tell them I don’t know. If it is a valid question I will tell them that I’ll find out or we could find out together.

When it comes to discipline we always talk about what they have done and why it’s wrong before we spank or ground them. When we talk to them we point out the fact that what they have done is sin that comes form a sinful heart. This gives us a chance to constantly reinforce the gospel and our need for a Savior. It is important that they know we are sinners too, who need God’s forgiveness just as much as they do. We also want them to understand that we are correcting them and trying to line them up with the Word of God and that that is our job as their parents.

Other ways I lead my family that they never really “see” is by praying for them and praying for God’s guidance as I lead. Also by researching, resourcing, and reading about family leadership. I like finding things out from other men who have been where I am or are where I am in life. This includes listening to sermons, audio messages, reading books, blogs, etc. I’ve not been the dad of a 7 year old girl, or a 5 year old boy before so new situations come up all the time.

All this leads me to my last point. If you try to do this on your own, without the power of the Holy Spirit, it will crush you. The weight of family leadership will either scare you off to where you do nothing, make you so depressed that you do nothing, or push you to Christ who tells you to cast your cares and burdens on Him. He is the One you are after. He is the One you are leading your family to.

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