by Brian and Julie Bruce
Take a few moments and think about your own ideas of how you think God expects husbands to lead their families? Can you name some ways? What does spiritual leadership look like in your home right now?
If it is not where you think it needs to be, then let’s learn together what God expects from a husband as a spiritual leader. If the word “lead” means we are to guide in a direction, than the idea of a Spiritual Leader would be to lead and guide yourself, your wife, and your family towards growth in understanding of Christ. Where is your family today and where do you want your family to be — spiritually speaking? In a previous post, we looked at the triangle that demonstrated the relationship between God, husband and wife and we pointed out that as husbands and wives moved up the triangle, they not only grew closer to God, but they also grew closer together. Husbands, it is your responsibility to make this happen. Joshua 24:15b says, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua didn’t say, “I will serve the Lord and maybe my family will follow along.” He didn’t say, “I will serve the Lord and if my wife feels God calling her to serve, that’s her choice.” No, as the leader of his family, he made a choice that he and his family would serve the Lord. It didn’t matter what all else of Israel chose. Joshua decided his household would serve God. In what ways does your house serve God now? What ways would you like to see your house serve God in the near future? Pray over God’s will for how He wants your family to serve Him and make a list. Then sit down and talk these over with your wife and pray together about them. Then as a united couple, sit down and talk about them with your children, if you have any. Make a covenant with God that you will lead your family, with His help, to honor and serve Him no matter who else in the world choses to do so or not.
John 20:14 says: “I am the good shepherded. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. The ultimate goal of spiritual leadership is to lead your family to the Good Shepherd — Jesus. What are ways you can do this?
First and foremost, a spiritual leader should pursue Christ. I Timothy 6:11 says, “ But thou, O man of God,…follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” Your own intimate walk with Christ is the foundation for good spiritual leadership. If you have not yet given your life to Christ, you can not be a spiritual leader. If this is true for you, you need to stop here and go back to our first blog post to learn how to become a Christian, or contact your pastor and talk with them about how you can become a child of God. For the Christian husband, if you are not following Christ in your own life, you are not going to be able to spiritually lead the people in your home. This means a daily time where you come before the Lord with a humble heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to shape your heart, mind, and spirit by opening the word of God and seeking to be cleansed and conformed into His image.
Pray: Prayer is one of our best weapons against the devil. Have your thought of prayer as a weapon? You should because the devil is certainly at war against you and your family. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The “thief” he was referring to is Satan…and Satan wants to steak, kill, and destroy. He does not want your children to be saved from their sins. He does not want you to be a family that honors God. He wants your children to learn worldly, liberal views. He wants your marriage to fall. Crumble. End in divorce. He wants your children to rebel and turn away from the Biblical teaching you have instilled in them. He is attacking your family every day. Prayer is one of your biggest and strongest defense weapons you have. You can pray for God’s protection around your family. You can pray for God to give them eyes to see the ways the devil wants to creep in with his lies. You can pray for the Holy Spirit to convict them of the areas they need to surrender to God or for their need of salvation. Whatever is going on in your family that would lead them away from God…pray about it. I don’t mean just a one time, quick prayer…but an earnest, humble, down-on-your-knees, heartfelt prayer. Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” The idea here is to ask and keep on asking…don’t give up! If your prayer life seems like nothing reaches past the ceiling of your home, I recommend reading “The Battle Plan for Prayer” book by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick. You can purchase the book from LifeWay Christian Stores by clicking on the link. This book will help you see prayer in a whole new way and change your prayer life.
Lead by example & set the standard: Have you ever had a boss or maybe a parent who told you to do or behave in a certain way but then they didn’t live that way for themselves? Like the parent that smokes cigarettes but tells their children not to do it? How did that make you feel? If you want your family to live godly lives then, you as husband and father, need to be living the life you expect them to live. You can’t cuss and yell at the ref who made a bad call and then discipline your children for cussing. Your wife and children are looking to you for guidance and leadership. You can’t do that sitting on the sidelines or from the couch playing video games. You need to be actively involved in their lives and the things that are important to them. You need to be taking them to church and be involved in your church…not just a pew warmer. You need to be taking the time daily to lead and point your family to Christ…whether that is in taking time to notice God’s creation, asking for his guidance in a difficult time, thanking him for the blessings he’s given you, or reading the Bible together and praying together as family. As the leader in your home it is your responsibility to prayerfully seek God’s will for your home and your family and then set the example for everyone in your home to follow. Let her see you studying God’s Word and praying. Let her see you being humble, kind, forgive, gentle, responsible, and striving to provide for you family. They will only follow if you set the example. They are watching you….what do they see?
Through Family Devotions: Are you content to let your kids learn about God in Sunday school? Or are you concerned enough about their spiritual life that you will take teaching them about God into your own hands so that you KNOW what they are being taught is from the Word of God? You, as their spiritual leader, have the responsibility for being actively teaching them the foundational truths of God’s word. Are you giving them the foundation they can build their lives on? Mathew 7: 24-27 says, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Are you building your house about the Rock of Jesus or the quicksand that washes out when the storms of life blow? Being a spiritual leader requires that you lead your wife and your family in a daily time of Bible study and prayer. You and your wife need a time where the two of you come together and pray over your marriage, your children, your jobs, your finances, your church and pastor, and other family members. There is something very unique and intimate about praying together. You also need to have a time where you as a couple lead your children in a time of prayer. Teach them to pray over areas they struggle with in school, or problems they have with friends or anything else that is a concern to them. One way to keep track of what you are praying for is to keep a prayer journal.
Honor your wife: As a Godly, spiritual leader you should find ways to honor your wife publicly. In other words, speak highly of her around other people. Never vent her faults or your frustrations to others. This doesn’t mean tell lies and say things that are not true. However, when you do talk about her to others tell them good qualities about her. It is a good way to show your appreciation for her and let her know you are proud to be her husband. Don’t just tell others…tell her!…and tell her often! If your out of practice, try this exercise:
Your spouse is lying on the ground and dying. He or she has three minutes to live. What do you say to him or her? Go!
Putting them above your own needs: As a spiritual leader you are to love your wife as Christ loved the church. Philippians 2:5-7 gives us a picture of Jesus’ love and example in sacrificing himself for us. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Like Christ, you need to be willing to sacrifice for her. This means putting her needs, or those of your children, above your own. The minute you begin to think about your “rights” or what she should “owe” you, is the minute you begin to put yourself above your family. Sometimes this might mean setting aside a hobby or activity you are involved in or planned to do just to spend time with your wife or family. Sometimes this might mean that a “big ticket” item you have been saving for needs to be put aside for later so that an unexpected financial need at home can be met. Sometimes it might be to spend an hour or two with the children so that your wife can have a break and just relax for a while. Sacrificing often leads to JOY: Jesus first; Others second; and Yourself last.
Be eager to serve them: Another way to show spiritual leadership is to be eager to serve. Just as Christ took on being a servant, husbands should also serve. Marriage is not about what you can GET from your spouse…its about what you can GIVE. Stop expecting her to wait on you, pick up after you, and lay out your clothes for you. Instead, look for ways you can serve her. Instead of leaving the dishes on the table, wash the dishes after dinner. Instead of “Honey, where are my work shoes?” Put your own shoes away in the right place and you will know where they are. Instead of griping about the mayo being left out, pick it up and put it away. If you truly do not know of a way you can serve your wife, simply ask: “Honey, what is one thing I can do for you today?” (And then go do it!)Today, it usually takes the husband and wife working to meet financial needs. If she has worked all day and still has to come home and cook, see that the kids’ homework is
done, put away the laundry, make lunches for the next day, and all the other things she does, look for ways to pitch in and help. Order pizza one night so she doesn’t have to cook. Help a child with homework. Pitch in with some of the mundane chores that are necessary for everyday life…such as emptying the dishwasher. There are so many things your wife does around the home simply because her husband doesn’t take the initiative to do them himself. If you don’t know how to help, ask her what you can do to help. One thing you should not do is sit down and read the newspaper or watch the football game and leave her to do it all herself. As you pitch in and help, you will find that everything gets done sooner and then there is more time for you and her later. Mark 9:35 says that if you want to be first, you must be last and servant of all. If you want to be first in your wife’s heart (after her relationship with Christ) then find ways to serve her. There is no louder or bigger “I love you” than serving her.
Take time now and pray about how you are spiritually leading your wife and family. What areas of your Spiritual Leadership has the Holy Spirit revealed to you that you need to improve? What steps will you take to begin improving those areas?