Being a Good Spiritual Leader in Your Family
Leadership is Inescapable
The first important point to make is that if you are a parent1, you are a leader. As parents we cannot escape that role. It is a God appointed role. Our only choice is what kind of leaders we will be. Will we be good leaders or bad leaders? It’s an awesome responsibility.
The word “awesome” has been used to mean “neat”, “cool”, and even “out of this world”. But here we mean it in its more traditional sense. The responsibility we have as parents is both terrible and wonderful. It is terrible in that the consequences of failure are tragic. It is wonderful in that we can be the vehicle God uses to shape the character and destiny of our children.
What You Can Do
There are several things you can do to be a good spiritual leader. Perhaps you are already doing some of these.
Are you diligent about your own walk with the Lord?
Of course we cannot lead our family spiritually unless we ourselves are following the Lord. Our children will learn much by what they see us do. And the task we have been given is, quite frankly, impossible. It is only as we rely on the Holy Spirit that we can accomplish this great task.
Do you pray with your family regularly?
By praying with your family you demonstrate several things. First, you demonstrate your own dependency on God. Second, you show that God is personal and that Christianity is at its core a relationship. Third, you demonstrate that we approach God both individually and corporately. This brings us to church.
Are you part of a church that is Bible-based, God-centered, and Reformed?
Being part of a church is a vital part of spiritual leadership. It is how we learn to love others and how we learn to love God in a community. It is also necessary for you to get the support of other believers. But why Bible-based, God-centered, and Reformed? We believe all these qualities are important in the church you join for many reasons. We’ll talk about each below.
We are Bible-based. The Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible and our desire is to submit to its teaching in every area of life.
This is so important in leading your family because the Bible is the source of truth about God. It is also a source of truth about humans that cannot be found anywhere else. A church that is Bible-based is one that is conforming its teaching to what God has said.
Unfortunately in our day there are many churches that claim to be based on the Bible but are not.
We are God-centered. We recognize God’s actual position of authority and rule over the church, and in fact, the entire universe.
The Bible, rightly understood, will naturally lead us into God-centered thinking.
But this brings up an interesting dilemma. Is seeking to be a good leader in your family a child-centered goal?
It certainly can be. We can have many idols. But since we are commanded by God to lead our families, we can do it in a God-centered way. In fact, any other approach will lead to failure. In another context Jesus expressed it this way:
If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.3
To relate it back to the family, if you want to save your family you must lose it (become God-centered) and in losing it (and all other false gods) you will find it.
We are Reformed. We are committed to a historic understanding of Christianity, especially as it was expressed during the Protestant Reformation and later in the Westminster confessional standards.
It is our belief that a Bible-based theology will naturally be a God-centered theology and a Bible-based, God-centered theology will be a Reformed theology. So in a sense, these three qualities tend to go together.
But specifically how can this help in leading one’s family? There are actually several important concepts that are helpful in this area. First, there is the concept of Covenant Theology. This is a very deep subject but it includes the idea that children of believers are members of the external covenant with God. So it affects the way you approach your family.
Second, in a reformed church, children are typically taught the catechism. This is a rich set of doctrines that are memorized and form an important foundation for later life. This approach to teaching children is inherent in the concept of Covenant Theology.
And finally, while a Reformed church is not going to desire tradition for tradition’s sake, it will have a respect and appreciation for the foundation that has already been laid in theology and practical godliness. Rather than re-invent the wheel, a Reformed church tends to draw upon the great creeds and confessions for guidance (as well as great Christian writers of the past). This recognition that we are part of an invisible church that has been on earth throughout history helps us as we approach parenting.
Please Join Us
We hope this article has been helpful. We look forward to seeing you in church this Sunday!
1. Many of these concepts apply to the responsibility of a husband leading his wife. However, this article focuses on parents for simplicity.
2. Some people ask why we say God-centered instead of Christ-centered. We are certainly not God-centered as opposed to Christ-centered. By God-centered we emphasize the opposite of man-centered. There is no conflict between a Christ-centered approach and a God-centered approach because God is one in three persons and the three persons are in total unity.
3. Mark 8:34-35