Follow the Leader: Is There a “Right” Way to Lead a Family Spiritually?

Quick, what’s the first thing you think of when you imagine a man leading his family spiritually?

For a really long time, my idea of leading the family was to have my husband sitting, expounding on the truths of the Bible to the kids, while they sat at his feet, their enraptured faces upturned and their full attention never waivering.  Occasionally, they would ask us profound questions that would make us feel like they were teaching us rather than the other way around.  It would be awesome.

Honestly, I didn’t even realize that’s what I thought my husband should be doing, but it was.  

So, um, yeah. I’ll give you one guess how many times that’s happened

We’ve tried over the years to do achieve at least some of this picture.  Usually it’s consisted of me choosing children’s devotions, opening it up, sitting it in front of my husband and asking him if he’ll “just read it to the kids.” He would comply because he’s a good man, but was this his leadership? Not so much. We never stuck with any of these books – I just wasn’t consistent enough.  Notice the word “I”.

A few months ago, I was thinking about giftings, and how God gives each of us different ones and together they work together to create a wholly functioning body that can accomplish so much more together than apart. (It’s one of my favorite subjects.)  As I thought about how each person contributes differently to the body, I suddenly realized that my ideal view of what a man should do to lead his family is based on the man having the gift of teaching

Opening the Bible, teaching a lesson from it – that’s what a teacher would do.

My husband is highly gifted.  He is an amazing counselor, and God consistently puts him in the right place at the right time to minister to people (who readily pour their hearts out to him). He is an amazing encourager, and after you’re done talking to him, you feel better even if there’s nothing but sports talk involved – he just has that effect. He is an amazing giver and helper – he knows instinctively what needs to be done and will do and give whatever it takes to help get it done.

Even he would tell you, he’s not a teacher.

And yet, he is.  He has taught our kids to always ask what they can do to help.  He counsels them on their problems, always grounding his advice in the Word. He shows them by example how to be a giver and a helper and an encourager.

He does lead, and he does it well.

It was a lightbulb moment for me. I was putting him in a box he didn’t belong in, and was not respecting him like I should in the process, all because he wasn’t operating as a traditional teacher.  And I hadn’t even realized I was doing it.

In humility, I apologized to my husband for this wrong point of view.  I told him how much I respected him for how he leads our family in the way that God has equipped him to do.  He graciously accepted my apology, and he thanked me for my words because he, too, had the feeling that he wasn’t doing it “right.” 

Is there just one right way to teach and lead a family?  I don’t believe there is.  God created variety for a reason. 

His guidance to us is in Deuteronomy 11:19 says, which says about teaching the truths of the Word, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Will each person do this the same way?  Of course not. 

And that’s no doubt a good thing, since each child learns differently, and most educators would tell you that every child learns by example most of all. You could use all the flowery words in the world to expound on the truths of the Word, but if you aren’t living it in front of your children, it does absolutely no good.

What about you?  What do you think spiritual leadership looks like? (FB friends, I’d love it if you would leave a comment here instead of FB, but, of course, feel free to comment anywhere!)

I’m linking today to:

8 Responses to “Follow the Leader: Is There a “Right” Way to Lead a Family Spiritually?”
  1. Dilip says:

    Interesting post. The best way starts with oneself. Others follow on their own.


  2. KM Logan says:

    I definitely came to a similar conclusion. My husbands idea of Bible time consists of making huge waves in the bath-tub and telling my children the story of Jesus calming the angry sea : ) I had so many weird expectations, it wasn’t until I heard a Focus on the Family broadcast talking about how real men (not the one’s we make up in our minds) actually lead their families I realized my husband had been a strong spiritual leader all along.

    I’d love it if you’d link this post up with my encouraging hearts linky.

  3. Dinah says:

    Wow! So beautifully written, and so appreciated!

  4. Very insightful post. Thank you for reminding us that everyone leads in their own way with the gifts they have been given.

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