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Spiritual Leadership In The Home

"There is no such thing as a self-made spiritual leader. A true leader influences others spiritually only because the Spirit works in and through him to a greater degree than in those he leads." —J. Oswald Sanders

"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." —1 Peter 3:7

The challenge of leading at home

Spiritual leadership in the home is one of our primary environments of leadership and by far the most challenging. It's often a hard topic for men to even talk about because they don't know what to do, how to do it, have failed in attempts, or just lacked a healthy model in their home of origin. Combine this with the shame some men perceive from a spouse, children, and pastors with compounded feelings of underperformance, and many give up. But giving up is not the right response; therefore we must find good ways to grab hold of the baton we have so willingly dropped. We are called to lead in our homes, but having the right spirit and doing it in the right way is very important.

5 Principles on leading at home

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One | Correctly understand strong leadership.

To become the man God wants you to be, you need to be a strong leader in your home. And by "strong leader" we do not intend a presence that is domineering, demanding, dictatorial, and driving. A strong leader is both humble in spirit and God-centered confident will. He is a man who finds ways to influence his family by being a servant, not a dictator. Like Jesus, he will find ways to be strong when required and soft when needed. With each person in his home, he must find a voice that will influence and persuade, winning them over to God's will, not his. As men, we are called to lead, but in certain moments we should assert strength without breaking the spirits of those under our leadership. Sometimes strength demands a soft tone, subtle persuasion, and cunning wisdom that will entice a person toward God's will. Either way, this requires deep strength and personal confidence.

Two | You're not spiritually responsible, but you are.

We should always feel a great responsibility for the spiritual leadership of our home. As men, we feel an almost natural impulse to provide. And provision for our family is essential. Food, shelter, clothing, and basic needs are something God wants us to work to produce. God has modeled this for us as the first provider. But we cannot limit this to natural provision. To provide for only a family's physical needs is to miss the greatest need - spiritual provision. And like our heavenly Father provided spiritually for us, we are called to provide spiritually for our family. But we have to be careful because while we are responsible to our family spiritually, we are not responsible for our family spiritually. We are called to train and teach, but we cannot force anyone to believe in God. And this creates an unusual tension in spiritual leadership. We can pray, prepare, but cannot push anyone to grow or believe in Jesus Christ. And it is often for this reason that many feel like a failure. It does not play by natural rules. Therefore we should never misinterpret our expectations when it comes to our spiritual responsibility. We are entirely responsible for our own choices, and also, we are fully accountable for teaching and training, but we are not responsible for the independent decisions they make - even when we feel it.

Three | Sanctify your wife

One of the great calls in spiritual leadership for the husband is to love their wives, and Christ loved the church. And the way he did it was sacrificial, sanctifying her "by the washing of water with the word." (Eph. 5:25) Too many times we see ourselves in competition with her leadership, or we are combatant with them. But this is not the work of a husband. We are commanded to wash them in truth from God's Word, not beat them into submission. And to wash our wife in this way requires a humility that recognizes we are not the truth - God is. Thus we need to drive them to His truth, not ours.

Four | Embrace teachable moments but maybe don't preach

Most men fail miserably at the first attempt of spiritual leadership. Maybe because we think we should present a regular sermon to our family as we receive at church. This is a commonly held misconception that we are probably embarrassed to admit. While I know a few families that hold intermittent worship and devotional times with their families, many men feel ill-equipped to lead these. And to be honest, most family members don't initially want to endure them. So instead why not turn available moments into teachable moments. Take every moment you do have to share praise, take the opportunity to teach, share a moment from your past, or process something you are reading in God's Word. This does require active spiritual engagement and discipline, but that's good for you too.

Five | It's one moment at a time

Think of leadership one moment at a time, each day. Consider each day how you can spur your family on toward love and good deeds. Refuse to see it as one moment and embrace it as a lifestyle of many moments. Your family will remember the insignificant things you do far more than those planned moments. Like the prayer in the car. The hug in the doorway. The prayer you prayed with them by phone. A listening ear to an email. Help with homework. Each of these moments has the divine opportunity just teed up for us by God. Do one thing to lead your family spiritually.

Vince Speaking 9

Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.

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