What is spiritual leadership in the home? Why is it necessary? What does it accomplish? How is it shown?
Paul, in his instructions to the Ephesians, placed the husband at the head of the home (Eph. 5:22-6:4), but what does that mean? In its deepest sense, what it means is that men need to be responsible for what goes on in their homes. With that in mind, here is a list of things needed by families from their spiritual leaders.
Spiritual leaders take the family to church. It sounds so simplistic, but there are many men who fail to realize this significant fact. One, it is an important part of our lives as Christians (Heb. 10:25), but it is just as more important in two other areas. First, wives need the support of husbands who find the public service to God a critical and meaningful element of their daily lives. Never was this made more clear to me than in a discussion with a woman, happily married to a man who had been baptized many years after their marriage, who told me she would not have married him had she known how hard it would be to worship without him for so many years.
Second, children need to be influenced by fathers who are ready and willing to worship God. Children learn best by example, and seeing their father dressed and ready on Sunday and Wednesday will teach them more about worship in those early years than will their Bible lessons.
Spiritual leaders love their wives. Again, it seems relatively simple, but again, response to Paul's commands on the family (Eph. 5:25-28; Col. 3:19) is so much more dependent on action than words. Husbands need to make it clear through what they do that they love their wives. In particular, if a man has children, they need to see him doing things which prove he loves their mother, whether it is helping her with some task (a great way to prove to children that Mom's work is important) or if it involves him backing her up in disciplinary matters. It does not have to be some grand gesture (we are not asking men to build the Taj Mahal), but take advantage of small opportunities to prove you love her.
Spiritual leaders exercise discipline over their children. This does not necessarily mean punishment, although that can certainly be involved. Paul said, "Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). Obviously, discipline is both teaching and correction, and children must have both if they are to grow into what we would expect from mature servants of God. As above, we cannot overstress the idea of teaching by example.
Spiritual leaders study God's word with their families. Nothing will produce strong, godly families like a devotion to God's word. We have heard 2 Timothy 3:16-17 quoted so often it has almost become a cliche to us, but it is important that we recognize the inherent truth of the verses, that is all scripture is worthwhile for producing godly people capable of fulfilling His desire for good. When we study with our families, we accomplish two things. First, we instill the teachings of God's word in our family life. Second, we remind our families that study of God's word is important and necessary.
Spiritual leaders pray with their families. Families are difficult to nurture and protect in our society. So much is out there waiting to destroy the home, and sometimes, all our attempts at establishing security seem fruitless. That is why prayer is so vital. James said, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (5:16). Children need to know that Dad has a place he can turn when things seem hopeless. They need to know that Dad is grateful for the blessings of God. They need to know that Dad is concerned enough about them to ask for God's guidance, not only for them, but for him in his dealings with them, for Mom as she deals with them, for their teachers and all others who have influence over them. Children need to know God is a factor in their lives. They learn this through what Dad says in prayer to God.
These are by no means all that families need from their spiritual leaders, but these are a good starter kit. What a tragedy for a family's spiritual leader if he is unable to lead his family to heaven. In some ways, we hope these small things will help you as try to do just that.