Husbands and Fathers – Our Spiritual Leaders
Who is the spiritual leader in your family? When your family prays together, who leads the prayer time? In moments of doubt or hardship or fear, who is the rock of the family, leading the way in faith that God has a plan? Who sets the example for every family member to model?
The Bible provides a blueprint for us to follow, beginning as far back as the book of Genesis when God said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?” (Genesis 18:17-18)
From that moment, God established His will that families should be structured in a specific way to ensure harmony and holiness. The world looks very different today.
For many Christians, especially in ever-increasingly progressive times, one of the more controversial passages of the New Testament is from Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:18-19, ESV).
Taken out context, scriptures like this have been used over the centuries for many wrong purposes. Properly understood, however, Paul’s words describe a wonderful model for living fulfilled and balanced lives where families can grow and flourish the way God intended.
The Bible is unambiguous in teaching that men and women are equal in the sight of God (Galatians 3:28). Jesus himself was surrounded by women who played key roles in his ministry (Luke 8:1-3, Mark 7:24-30, Matthew 15:21-28).
Yet throughout scripture, God’s plan is clear that men and women serve different roles in the kingdom. It’s important to note that “different” does not mean “unequal.” God doesn’t consider husbands as in any way superior to their wives, or that wives are less important than their husbands. Married couples are to make decisions together, as one heart looking to Christ as their head.
But ultimately, in every family someone must carry the larger responsibility for leadership. In God’s plan that person is the husband, a husband who follows Jesus’ model of servant-leader.
Spiritual servant-leaders are not taskmasters, they are servants. They pay attention to their family’s needs, constantly looking out for their spiritual welfare. They offer comfort and encouragement, provide support and protection, defending their families in all things. They teach their children how to pray, how to place God first in their lives. They show uncompromising loyalty and devotion to their wives.
To live out the role spiritual servant-leader to his fullest potential, a husband should demonstrate three key traits:
- He must have a strong connection with his own Heavenly Father, placing all of his trust in God before anything or anyone else. A man can only provide leadership when he has a personal, intimate connection with the Lord through Jesus.
- He must strike a balance between his role as provider and his role as nurturer for the well-being for his family. For years this was a struggle for me as I pursued my career and I know it has been a struggle for countless other men.
- Finally, his character and integrity in all matters must be beyond question. He must constantly strive to be the wisest, most respected man in his family’s life.
It’s not easy. In our family, it took me a long time to realize that being a spiritual servant-leader requires a husband to be focused on the needs of those around him rather than his own needs. It requires strength, humility, and grace. I still work on it every day!
Of course, the reality is that not all families have husbands and fathers to serve as spiritual leaders. In those situations, the roles of mothers becomes even more critical as leaders as well as nurturers, caregivers, and providers. The answer still lies with God and placing our trust in His plan.
When we put God first, we will know the power of living into servant-leadership for our families and our communities.
May God continuously lead your path.