When I think about leadership in the home, I am always trying to remember that the Word needs to penetrate my heart. The reality is that as a Christian father, Satan is always working to get me to forget about leadership in the home.
Here are five key guidelines I try to abide by for leadership at home.
1. Remember we are all sinners saved by grace
Leadership in the home requires arising daily in the presence of the Lord. If I don’t, that leadership vanishes within minutes. I must remember, even when disciplining my children, that I also am a sinner. I need to humble myself and surrender to my heavenly Father, who gently reminds me that I, too, can stray. I can lash out to my kids sometimes and say, “How many times do I have to tell you.” But how often does God have to also remind me of my pitfalls? So through God’s grace, I continue to parent. My children are sinners, yes, but so am I, and I need to remember that.
2. I want be the same at home as I am with my church family
Whatever I am doing, I don’t want to be two different men. I genuinely want to be myself at home and in the pulpit. Years ago, I discovered one of my close pastor friends had cheated on his wife. Her words clearly stuck with me when she said, “The man you see at church is not the same man at home.”
So that is an extreme example, but I think there are a lot of little things that lead up to that point. If I am going to show that I am a sinner at home, I need to be vulnerable in front of my church family too. My family needs prayer because we don’t have it all together either. I can’t stand up and portray anything different.
3. I need to be a teacher, but I must be teachable
As I am teaching my children day-by-day and looking for teachable moments, it’s important that I also allow my soul to be pliable. Do I have people in my life who can teach me? I can’t walk into my house and say, “I am the leader of this house, so whatever I say goes.” If I am teachable, it allows a better environment in my home and allows my children to really listen, because I have demonstrated listening to them. When they see that humbleness, they respond in a better way. You will never get this parenting thing figured out fully, so always stay teachable. I have a few men I can go to about my family, and they help me talk through different situations and how to best deal with them.
Now that my oldest is about to turn 18, I can look back and see the things I have learned from having kids. You can’t control your kids; they are their own persons. You can direct them in the right way, but they will make their own decisions. Ultimately, they are the Lords’s children.
4. Keep an eternal perspective
Parenting is not just an 18-year job — it’s an eternal job. The cliché, “the days are long and the years are short,” is so true. At the end of the day, my children belong to the Lord. I get the privilege to raise them and be a big part of their life. We can’t just aim to get them through high school or in to college, that is aiming too low. We must aim for eternity. The days will go by too quickly for all of us.
5. Be intentional
Leadership in the home doesn’t just happen. It happens when you admit you can’t do this alone and let God’s grace overwhelm you and lead you through it. I want my children and my wife to know that I love the Church — it is the bride of Christ — but I want them to know that I love them, too. I have to intentionally show that. I have to be intentional to pray with them and take time to spend time with each one individually. I want them to know that I am for them, even in the hard conversations and when they tell me things I don’t want to hear. Leadership in the home is an everyday intentionality. I can tell you I am a praying man and a man of the Word, but if my family doesn’t ever get a sense of that, what good is it? That intentionality has to be there.
At the end of the day, this is why being vulnerable and having accountability is so important. A father and husband can’t just go through the motions; he must have the passion to continually pursue his family and lead them toward Christ. I need to pursue my family so they see that Christ is the treasure of my life, and I pray that through my example, they also would pursue Him.
My identity as a leader isn’t my ultimate identity. My true identity is as a child of Christ. As I lead my family, I don’t want to create little clones of myself. They need to be images of Christ and followers of Jesus, so that is what I must demonstrate myself.
Published April 4, 2018