A friend recently asked me for spiritual wisdom, verses, and biblical heroes with regard to being a “protector and advocate” for his family. At the heart, he’s wondering, “What does it mean to be the spiritual leader in my home?” He’s not the only one to ask me this recently, so here’s what I told him. It’s not an exhaustive treatment, but hopefully will be helpful nonetheless.
Laying the Groundwork
I think God first lays it down to Abraham in Genesis 18.18. He says, “For I have chosen him [Abraham] so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD.” Abraham’s role is to lead his children to follow God. And not just this first generation. He is to direct the ones who come after. How does he do this? By setting a strong course in the first generation. Then when they’re the fathers, they’ll direct their household to do the same, and so forth. So you lay the groundwork, set a firm foundation, for your family.
Supporting Spiritual Growth
I also think of Joshua, who made a covenant, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24.15). He made the decision to follow God. This is important. He couldn’t control the hearts of his household—everyone makes his or her own decision—but he could set the course of his household. Rather than serve other gods, his household would serve the LORD. They would shun idols, replace other devotions, take steps in a steady direction. Because he made the decision for his household, he could say, “As long as you’re under my roof, you won’t worship other gods.” So you decide to serve God and make supporting decisions. Maybe you pass on buying a new gadget so your kid can go to church camp. Maybe you don’t pay an extra mortgage payment so your wife can go to a spiritual conference. You direct your household in order to support spiritual growth.
Isaiah 62.6 says, “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night.” Another part of spiritual leadership is being a watchman. This entails prayer and discernment. Are there unclean influences on your family? Is there an unhealthy trend? Are you praying for protection and prosperity? Watchmen were appointed on the walls of Jerusalem because the city was precious, the dwelling place of God. If we want our families and households to be dwelling places of God, we need to keep watch over them. It’s easy as husbands and fathers to slip into passive mode. We let our wives watch over the kids, plan the routines, initiate spiritual growth or prayer. But being a spiritual leader means keeping watch.
Washing with the Word
Ephesians 5.26 says husbands ought to wash their wives with the word. This means passing on the things you’re learning, meditating upon, thinking about, to your wife. Be intentional with sharing the things God is teaching you. This will keep you accountable in seeking the LORD on your own. If you don’t have anything, what can you give her? I’m not talking about preparing a three point sermon for her. I’m talking about discussing what’s going on with you spiritually, even if it seems small or insignificant. The Holy Spirit loves to work within marriages and families. Your word might confirm something for her. You never know until you speak up.
Living In Harmony
Romans 12.6 says to live in harmony with one another. We might apply this to our coworkers and neighbors, but it also applies to our household. Leading spiritually means living in harmony with one another. You ought to be the leader in reconciliation. Instead of waiting for your wife to reconcile, be the leader. Go to her first. Humble yourself and seek forgiveness if you lose your temper with your kids. Practice kind words. Don’t talk about others behind their backs. Encourage often. Live the kind of life you want your kids and wife to live.
I hope this helps. It’s a great question and an even greater honor to lead our households.