Men are called to be leaders in their homes, but what does this mean? Does it mean that we make sure we pray with our families, have regular family Bible readings, own a good set of commentaries so we can be the “Bible Answer Man” when called upon, make sure the family is at church whenever the doors are open, create Power Point presentations to teach our family Bible doctrine, set up guidelines for our children that come straight out of the Bible, etc.? What does godly leadership look like on a day to day basis? In order to answer this question, I want to offer a definition of godly leadership in the home and then propose two major errors one makes in seeking to be a godly leader.
Ultimately, I believe that godly leadership is to boldly move toward the vision that God lays on a man’s heart as he seeks to daily follow him and bring him glory within the context of a community of believers. To “unpack” this definition, let me begin at the end of the definition and work my way back toward the beginning.
1. “within the context of a community of believers”
It is important to note at the outset that godly leadership does not happen in a vacuum or as a lone ranger. As a man seeks to be a godly leader in his home, he must be lead within the context of the community of believers to which he belongs. As such, the man is not to be an authoritarian leader; he is to be leading his family as he submits himself to the body of Christ, the leaders in the church, and most importantly, Jesus Christ. Leadership is always carried out in submission. The man’s leadership is bigger than himself and his family. Ultimately, his leadership is about mission, especially the mission that has been entrusted to the body of Christ as we await the return of the Lord.
2. “as he seeks to daily follow him and bring him glory”
A man’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ is foundational to his leadership. He must love God. He must be committed to “taking up his cross” and daily following the Lord. Leadership in the home necessitates that the man is not living for himself, but rather for the greater purposes of God in this world. His leadership is not about his own glory, but rather the glory of the Lord. Isaiah 42:8 states, “I am the LORD, that is my name; I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to graven images.” Isaiah continues in 48:11, “For my own sake, for my own sake, I will act; for how can my name be profaned? And my glory I will not give to another.” Romans 11:36 continues with “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.” As a result, every decision a man makes in leading his home, whether in word or deed, is to be done to the glory of God. The man is to be intentionally and purposefully following the Lord and yielding every aspect of his life and the life of his family to the Lord’s glory. Therefore, any decisions made in the home are not primarily about the man, the wife, or the children, but rather about God and the work that he is doing in this world.
3. “the vision that God lays on his heart”
It is important to first emphasize that this point is essentially an outgrowth of points 1 and 2. Without the first two points, any vision that a man pursues would be woefully inadequate and doomed for failure. As a man seeks to follow the Lord and bring him glory within the context of a community of believers, God will begin to do a work in him so that he can work through him. When God begins working in this kind of way in a man as he lives in community (including his wife), the man will begin to develop a sense of what God is calling him to. We might call this a “vision” for where and how God wants the man to lead his family. This “vision” will always be firmly planted in/consistent with the word of God as well as encouraged by the people of God who surround the man and influence him in every respect.
This leads to the second point to emphasize. We must grasp that, if God calls men to be leaders in the home, he will equip them to be leaders in the home. We might even add the emphasis that he will “supernaturally equip” men. Proverbs 16:9 states, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” We might propose that, just as leaders in the church are supernaturally empowered to shepherd the people of God, the man is supernaturally empowered to shepherd his family. Whatever God calls people to do, he equips them to do. Men are called to lead their homes, so they are, therefore, equipped to lead their homes. Therefore, God will guide them in the way that he wants them to go.
4. “to boldly move toward”
Boldness in leadership is lacking today. For the most part it is discouraged. When bold leadership is present, it is often called “authoritarianism.” When it is absent, it is often called “equity.” This results from cultural movements of democracy, which teaches that everyone is entitled to an equal vote. Today’s Christian homes increasingly utilize a 50/50 leadership model rather than a male leadership model. It also results from relativism, which teaches that one person’s view is just as good as another. A response of a relativistic person to bold leadership might be “And who do you think you are trying to lead me in that direction? My way is just as right.” The negative view of bold leadership is further complicated by leaders who often mishandle their leadership responsibilities, even abusing them.
However, if God has called men to be leaders, then men should lead. With boldness, they should pursue the things to which God is calling them as they seek him with all their heart. This boldness must be founded on and defined by the preceding three points. Boldness is not boldness if it is divorced from the previous three points. In fact, if it is not founded on these points, then it has the potential to become reckless and self-centered. If it is, then it has the potential to become the inescapable call of God on one’s life, which is carried out by the power of God within the community of God’s people.
So, what is godly leadership in the home? Godly leadership is to boldly move toward the vision that God lays on a man’s heart as he seeks to daily follow him and bring him glory within the context of a community of believers. If men were to live this out in their lives, we would find a powerful movement of gospel proclamation and kingdom-centered, Christ-exalting living in our families and our churches.
With this as our definition, let me propose two fatal errors that men make in seeking to be leaders in their homes. I highlight these two errors because I sense that they are the crucial ones that need to be addressed in light of our culture today.
Error #1: A leadership style that is “people-centered” in that it seeks to pacify people. This leadership style is not “God-centered” in its orientation. Its highest goal is to make people happy (at least to pacify them) or to avoid the conflict of competing goals. Ultimately, this error is a failure to live out points 3 and 4 above. It is a leadership style that refuses to “boldly move toward the vision that God lays on his heart.” It is not godly leadership. A man, who leads in this way, must repent of his desire to please people, which has displaced his desire to please God. He must, then, determine to be obedient to the call of God by boldly following this call regardless of the personal cost.
Error #2: A leadership style that is “self-centered” in that it seeks to lead in the strength and wisdom of self. This leadership style is also not “God-entered” in its orientation. Its highest goal is to make life work well (at least minimize the pain of living) by simply making the best decision from the available alternatives. Ultimately, this error is a failure to live out points 1 and 2 above. It is a leadership style that refuses to “seek to daily follow him and bring him glory within the context of a community of believers.” It is also not godly leadership. A man, who leads in this way, must repent of his desire to make life work well, which has displaced his desire to glorify God in all things. He must, then, determine to daily follow the Lord, seeking to bring him glory in everything regardless of the personal cost.
Although more errors could be highlighted, a high majority of men would find themselves in one of these errors. The reason is that the fall has affected our created capacity to lead, giving us the fallen natural tendency to avoid bold risks. We prefer safety. God has given us his word, his Spirit, and his people to help transform our fallen natural tendencies into redeemed people who live from a redeemed heart.
Men have a high calling to be leaders in their homes. It is not a place of power. It is a place of responsibility. As such, it requires one to be so saturated with the Bible that any “vision” is clearly biblically informed/consistent. It requires one to be much in prayer, seeking God daily for spiritual vibrancy. It requires one to carefully and responsibly weigh the counsel/wisdom of others in the body of Christ (including the ones he is leading). It requires that one be clearly focused on the lives of those he is seeking to lead and shepherd. And finally, it requires one to be consumed with bringing God glory in everything.
May we all seek to be godly leaders in our homes for his glory and the good of our families!