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Leadership (12) Leadership in the Home

Family leadership may be the most important leadership of all. It has always been so. Even before the flood, the Bible reflects the need for good leadership in the family. Eve led Adam into sin – and he let it happen. Cain’s influence lived on in his descendant, Lamech (Genesis 4:19-24). Who knows how much faithful Noah was influenced by the memory of his great grandfather Enoch who “…did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5; see also Genesis 5:21-24, 32) ?

The family is the training and proving ground for leadership in the church. Both elders and deacons are to demonstrate in their leadership at home that they are capable of guiding the church. The family is not a “mini-church,” but the church is the family of God (1 Timothy 3:15; See also Ephesians 3:14-15). How a man does as a husband and father will show a lot about how he will do as an elder or deacon. Experience in the household will prepare for work in the church. So, it is fair to say that without good leadership in our homes we are not likely to have good leadership in our churches either.
Leadership is essential, not only for strong churches, but also for strong families. Lack of family leadership led to disaster in the homes of otherwise great men – and to tragic consequences for the people of God.
David was guilty of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. This sin led to terrible results in David’s own family. When Nathan, the prophet, confronted him with a story of a rich man who stole a poor man’s only ewe lamb, David exploded with wrath. He wanted to kill the man, but he said, “He must pay for that lamb four times over.” When Nathan said, “You are the man,” David repented of his sin – but he still paid the consequences in his family. The child of the adulterous union died. David’s oldest son, Amnon, raped his half-sister, Tamar, and was then murdered by Absalom, David’s next son and full sister of Tamar. Later, Absalom led a rebellion against his father, David, and was killed in the battle. The next son, Adonijah, was handsome and gracious – but “His father had never interfered with him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’” When David was on his deathbed, Adonijah tried to make himself king. Nathan and Bathsheba thwarted this move – but after David’s death and Solomon was king, Adonijah tried again to take the throne by trickery. So, Solomon had him put to death. Four of David’s sons died tragic deaths; David paid for Bathsheba four times over. [The story of the adultery and murder is in 2 Samuel 11. Chapter 12 tells of Nathan’s confrontation and the death of the child. Chapter 13 tells of the rape of Tamar and murder of Amnon. Chapters 14 – 20 tell of Absolam’s rebellion and death. 1 Kings 1:1-52 tells of Adonijah’s attempted coup while 1 Kings 2:13-25 relates his later treachery against Solomon and his death.]
Eli, the priest and judge in Israel and mentor of the great prophet Samuel, did not give leadership to his own sons. They used their priesthood as an opportunity for extortion and adultery. When Eli mildly rebuked them, they refused to listen because “they had no regard for the Lord.” An unnamed prophet accused Eli himself: “Why do you honor your sons more than [the LORD] by fattening yourselves on the choice parts?” (1 Samuel 2:12ff).
David and Eli both erred in leading their families. Both of them were negligent in giving guidance to their progeny – and the nation paid the price for their neglect. The church and the nation today are paying a similar price.
Before Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses charged them:
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. – Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
Leadership in the home was crucial to Israel’s continued well being in the land as God’s chosen people. Is it any less crucial in our age of disintegrating families and soaring crime?
Parents are responsible for their children – not only to feed, clothe and school them, but also to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) This speaks specifically to fathers, but godly mothers also plan an important part in the Christian leading of their children, as we observe in the way Eunice and Lois reared Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5).
Unfortunately, many homes have abdicated parental and grandparental leadership. Many children are brought up “in the instruction and training of the TV programmers” with little concern for Christian guidance. Frequently, Christian parents put schoolwork, sports, entertainment and social affairs ahead of worship, Bible class, home devotions, moral training and church activities.
Every preacher, elder and Bible class teacher can tell of parents who want “somebody to do something” about their children. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the parents have wasted the most opportune years by stressing everything else to the neglect of the child’s spiritual training and discipline.
Even activities that are good can become detrimental when life is filled with things that do not contribute to godliness. Little League can crowd out Bible Class, and homework can take the place of family devotionals. As a child grows older, flipping hamburgers at McDonalds can make it harder to find time for worship. It seems that children, even at a very early age, are under as much time pressure as their parents. It is up to parents to help make those choices that will begin to put first things first from the time of their youth. After all, that is when we are to remember our Creator (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Jesus had balanced growth “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). He was “well-rounded” with intellectual, physical, spiritual and social growth. Many youths from Christian homes are short-changed when it comes to the spiritual side of things. They receive scarcely more godly training that the young people of the world. The world will not give religious training (nor should we expect it to!). The church cannot give all that is needed. The “prime provider” for the moral training and Christian education of our children must be the home and the leadership of Christian parents.
Single Parent Homes
This is true whether it is a traditional “father, mother and the kids” family or a single-parent home. While single parents face increased difficulties, these are not greater than those faced by one Christian parent with a non-Christian mate. Timothy’s father was a Greek – yet his godly mother and grandmother communicated their faith to him. This was at least as difficult (if not more so) than for a single parent to communicate faith today. My observation has been that single parents who are faithful do a credible job of rearing their children. Where this is true, it is because those parents have exercised real leadership.
God gives leadership in the home to the husband (Ephesians 5:22-29). This is not a popular position in this age of unisex equality in all things, but Scripture gives some special reasons for it. One reason is that the husband- wife relationship is supposed to illustrate the relationship between Christ and the church, his bride. When husbands do not take their God-given place in the home, we have lost a powerful example of how we are to relate to our heavenly bridegroom.
Unfortunately, many men read Ephesians 5:22 (which is addressed to their wives) without reading verses 25-29 (which is addressed to them).

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. – Verse 22

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church…. – Verses 25-29

They want their wives to be submissive, but do not want to be responsible for loving their wives sacrificially.
Our standard of loving leadership is that of Christ for his church. Just as Jesus loved and gave himself for the church to make it holy and pure, so also the husband is to love his wife and give himself for her. He is to feed and care for her – not only physically, but also spiritually.
Submission to such leadership is not a burden; it is a blessing in the home. A preacher was teaching a class in which he referred to 1 Peter 3:6 where Peter speaks of Sarah obeying Abraham. He commented that we needed more women like Sarah. A wise woman in the class replied, “If we had more men like Abraham, we would have more women like Sarah.”
Most wives have little difficulty in accepting the leadership of a godly man. If your wife is restive under your guidance, dear husband, perhaps you ought to examine yourself!
Unfortunately, many husbands are more concerned with following their assorted hobbies than in seeing to the spiritual nourishing of their families. Many spend more time in either playing or watching sports than they do with their families. The time they do spend with the family is more devoted to recreation than to “new creation.” An egocentric pursuit of pleasure and/or possessions motivates much of what they do.
The families of such men are robbed of the spiritual leadership God expects them to give. Even the world recognizes “workaholic” men and “golf-widow” women – and knows that these conditions are not healthy. When Christian husbands neglect their God-given role as spiritual providers in the family, homes are in deep trouble.
Let’s not forget the Christian leadership of godly wives either. Remember that Christian leadership comes through service. Who can read Paul’s description of godly women who are to be recognized in special ways, and not recognize the leadership of these women?
No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. – 1 Timothy 5:9-10
This leadership role is emphasized a few verses later in the chapter (v. 14) where younger widows are counseled to marry, have children, and “manage their homes.” The kind of home management in view here is the kind described in Proverbs 31:10-31 where the “worthy woman” is described. That woman was certainly a leader in her home in every way!
Such women even lead their husbands. Peter indicates that godly purity and subjection can even lead unbelieving husbands to receive the Word of God .

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. – 1 Peter 3:1-6

Even Christian men are led into greater service by the godly character and inspiration of their wives. Truly, a home where husband and wife complement and encourage one another in their Christian lives will be a great source of Christian leadership at home and in the community.
The key to such leadership in the home is found in Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:35, Emphasis added). The key phrase is “undivided devotion to the Lord.” Parents who put first things first will teach their children to do the same. Christ will teach husbands who love him how to love their wives. Wives who serve God will, by that service, become leaders in their homes.
Sadly, our world today tends to distract us from that undivided devotion. The ever-present blare of TV and stereo; the clamor of sports, school and socializing; along with the demands of work for both parents and ever-younger teens – all combine to make “undivided devotion” difficult. We need to remember the Parable of the Sower, though and reflect on the fact that the seed among the thorns was unfruitful (Luke 8:24). Let’s not let the thorns of our world today distract us from our devotion to the Lord. Otherwise, our families may end like those of Eli, Samuel and David.
Christian leadership in the home will inevitably spill over into the church and the community. The church looks to its homes to find its elders and deacons, its teachers and preachers. The community will turn to solid families to find stability in time of crisis. Christian leadership in the home is not an after-thought with God. It is the source of virtually all Christian leadership anywhere.
  1. Why do otherwise great men often show poor leadership in their own families?
  2. How can parents and the church cooperate in the spiritual training of children?
  3. Should Deuteronomy 6:6-7 be followed today in spiritual Israel? If so, discuss some practical applications of it for today’s families.
  4. Discuss the husband’s role as spiritual leader in the home. What can the modern man do to fulfill this responsibility? Can he do so without being a Neanderthal?
  5. How can a godly wife be a leader in her home and be in subjection to her husband at the same time?
  6. How can a wife lead her unbelieving husband to the Lord?
  7. How can we lead our families in “undivided devotion to the Lord?” Do we have to take ourselves out of the world to do this?
  8. How can we set priorities for life that will give our children the well-rounded balance Jesus had in growing up?

– (12a) More on the Family – Developing Boys into Men Who Lead

PREVIOUS – (11) The Gospel Preacher


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