“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” | 1 Corinthians 16:13
Men, husbands, fathers, God calls you to lead your family. This is a great honor and a weighty responsibility. I pray you are walking in faith and leading well. I’d like to encourage you by offering some practical steps for ways you can step up as a leader in your home. I confess that I am still working on many of these myself. Will you join me?
- Lead the way in family devotions. This is a hard discipline to start and even harder to maintain. Fight for it. Set aside time daily if possible, weekly at minimum, to gather for 10 minutes for three things: Reading Scripture, Praying, and Singing. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Read a chapter or section each time you gather. Just pick a book (a Gospel is a good starting place) and slowly work through it. You don’t have to prepare much in advance. Sing a simple song together. Pray. Get everyone involved. Don’t let awkwardness or lack of confidence keep you from doing this. Check here for a previous blog on this subject.
- Pick up your kids. We pick up babies and toddlers out of necessity, but don’t stop once they hit kindergarten. There will come a day when you don’t pick them up anymore and it will sneak up on you. When they are too big to pick up, hug them daily. Pick up your kids emotionally and spiritually, too, with words of encouragement. Tell them often “I love you” and “I’m proud of you.” A father’s words carry weight–don’t waste them. Lift them up in prayer before the Lord.
- Show affection to your wife in front of your kids. Make a big deal of it when you kiss your wife (not just a peck on the cheek before heading out the door). Little kids will giggle. Older boys may even say, ‘gross, Dad.’ But just watch your children try to suppress a smile. Knowing that dad loves mom and delights in her gives a sense of security to your children. Don’t let the first romance your children witness be on some dumb sitcom– let it be witnessed daily at home. Hold fast to your wife and delight in her.
- Be present. Coming home can be difficult, especially when you are tired and just want peace and quiet. The house may be chaotic and noisy. It is easy to want to find your favorite chair and tune out, maybe mindlessly scroll through social media or watch unimportant reels. It is tempting to just let the kids all hop on screens so that at least they are quiet. Don’t check out. You only have a few precious hours to play, influence, and spend time with your children before they head off to bed. Spend them well. Give yourself to your family in those hours between getting home and saying ‘goodnight.’
- Get strong. God has made you the protector of your family. You are the first line of defense against danger of all kinds. It requires strength to fulfill this duty. When you are strong, you give confidence to your wife and kids that they are safe. Consider it your responsibility to be strong and fit, to the degree that you are able. Besides all the personal benefits, it models hard work and discipline for your kids to follow. Often, it will increase your children’s respect for you, especially your sons. It will grant you the ability to play with your kids and grandkids as you get older. It will allow you to be more capable in serving others. When you add the discipline of working out into your life, it fuels discipline in other areas of life as well.
- Make it a habit to ask your wife “What do you think?” before making a decision. Invite her counsel. Sometimes men fail in leading their family by passively allowing their wives to make all the decisions; other times men think leading is making all the decisions by themselves. Both are wrong, but this advice is more for those who struggle with the latter error. Ask your wife for counsel. Invite her to give her thoughts, insights, wisdom, and perspective. God designed for her to be your helpmate, and this is one way you can honor God, honor her, and help her fulfill that God-given role. You and your whole family will benefit.
- Be the Blessing Man. God delights to bless and give good gifts to his household (Mt. 7:11; Jas. 1:17). His people praise him and love him and know that it is good to belong to the Lord. In a similar way, seek to bless your wife and children. Do good to them. Give them good gifts. Provide for their needs and beyond. Take them out for ice cream. Go on adventures. It is easy to get into a mode where it feels like our primary task is to correct, to discipline. It is necessary to discipline children, and there are always some areas where they need correction. Just don’t make that your primary parenting goal. Be the blessing man. Let your kids know that you delight in them and seek their good. Let them be glad they are part of your family and bear your name and not resent it. There is a reason why we are warned against provoking our children to anger (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).
- Be Joyful. Some of you may have a more naturally joyful or gregarious nature, but many of you may not. There is plenty to be upset about in the world, in ourselves, in our families, at work. This must not drive your mood. Joy is both a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) and a discipline (Jas. 1:2). Your mood sets the temperature for the family. If you are never-smiling, often complaining, critical, moody, sarcastic, pessimistic, and overly serious, it will tend to create similar attitudes in your family. Instead, smile, laugh, tell jokes, have dance parties, play good music, be slow to anger, don’t take yourself so seriously, make dinner time at the family table a fun event. Most of all, when you speak of God and the faith, do so with joyfulness and thanksgiving. Fight for joy in your home.