Men, we have an enormous responsibility set before us. God has graciously and providentially placed you and I as the head of our families. This is not a calling to take lightly. Not many men will deny the responsibility of providing financially for their families. Sadly, many others will deny the responsibility to provide “spiritually”. You may know how to work hard, long hours to make sure that all the bills are paid. You may put food on the table and a roof over the heads of your loved ones. However, God has not only called you to lovingly support your family physically, but also to be their spiritual leader.
As followers of Jesus we are the main disciplers of our family! How are you leading your family to become like Jesus? How are you mentoring your wife to Love Jesus more? How are your children being trained and encouraged to walk with God? If your answer to these questions is “Taking them to church every Sunday.” I’m here to tell you that is not nearly enough. It is not the church’s job to take the initiative to disciple your family. It is yours. It is not the Youth Pastor’s job, whatever his job description may say. Of course, the church and your covenant community play a vital role! Don’t expect them to do all the work! Sadly, in most churches there is zero real discipleship happening! If there is any discipleship it is mostly defined as a 10-week course of “the basics”. Discipleship is much more than just a class, a lesson or something to memorize! Discipleship is an intentional, lifelong investment into another for the sake of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Here is the deal. If you won’t disciple your family – someone or something else will. Are you losing your family without knowing it? What foundation are you laying for their future? We must lovingly, but intentionally disciple them in & through the Word! This not only involves teaching them the Word, but also involves practically & lovingly walking with them. Here are some practical ways you can be the kind of leader your family needs.
Celebrate God regularly with your family! Let them see your joy in God! Teach them how to be thankful. Teach them to celebrate because of, and for the gospel! Psalm 150 tells us to praise God “according to his excellent greatness”. How great does your family think God is? Talk about him! Shout out what he has done. Model this for your children and let them also develop a habit of praise! We are whiners, complainers and selfish by nature.
My wife often tells the story of how her parents taught her this lesson. When she was very young her mother kept a journal of every answered prayer they received! Her family never had much money. They literally were squeaking by every paycheck. One time their minivan had broken down. They prayed, and that week God answered with 3 different vehicles that were donated to them! They marked that celebration in their praise book! Teach your family to celebrate God’s goodness when things go your way and when they don’t.
Admit it now. You’ve blown it and will continue to do so. You are not perfect and you need forgiveness from your family often. Your Children and wife are no different. We all need grace. We all need forgiveness. We all need to repent. We can be hard on our children and expect them to repent, and forget that is what we also must do. Your family needs to know that you need grace too. Don’t ever neglect to let them see God’s grace in your life. Teach them how to swallow pride, ask forgiveness and be thankful for God’s grace. Don’t rob your children of this blessing because of your immense pride. Show them the goodness of God in the gospel. Show them your daily dependence on the gospel. Be man enough to say, “I’m sorry”.
Your attitude towards sin will tell them much about how they also need to deal with their sin. Repent and then celebrate when repentance happens within your home.
I would love to see some actual statistics, but I’m sure that most average Christian families don’t pray often. I’m not talking about prayers at meals or when there is an actual crisis. Your family needs to see a daily dependence from you on the Lord. Your family needs you to lift them up before the throne daily. Not only should you pray FOR them, but you also need to take the time to pray WITH them. As a family we’ve often prayed at family worship in the evenings. But lately, I’ve prayed with my children as I am tucking them in bed. It’s a sweet time. I pray specifically for them out loud. I pray for their walk, witness and future world. I pray that they will believe the gospel and rely on His Spirit.
May your prayers go beyond runny noses and scraped knees, although those are very important as well. We need to pray for our disciples as Jesus did. If Jesus prayed for his disciples we should too all the more!
A major part of discipling your family involves giving them something you could never get back – your time! Spend lots and lots of time with them. You can not disciple unless you spend time with those who you are discipling! Discipleship is best built within the context of authentic relationships. We are not told about every waking moment Jesus had with his disciples. John tells us that it would not be possible for the world to contain all of the books necessary! The gospel accounts primarily focused on the actual ministry of Jesus with the disciples. Jesus loved those men. He spent time with them. I’m sure there were plenty of times where they just enjoyed each other. He spent a good deal of 3 years with these men and most of what we know is only from a small span of time.
Make sure you never stop dating your wife! Someone has said once wisely said that one of the greatest things a father could ever do for their children is to love their mother. Honor her. Cherish her. Serve her. Let your children see what a healthy relationship involves. Mark your calendar with frequent date nights. Date nights don’t need to cost anything! The best dates are the simplest ones. Not only date your wife, but also date your children! Be consistent! Be spontaneous! Surprise them when they least expect it and build up anticipation for some really special days. If you do have more than one child, make sure you stick with a rotation to avoid any appearance of favoritism. Put your smart phone away and enjoy your family!
The discipler is also a disciple. So it will include from you a consistent time to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from him. You may not be a “teacher” but you will still teach. You teach others what you believe by how you live everyday. We teach our families without even knowing it. The discipler must be the example to those who are following his example of Christ. Even Paul says to, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV)
There is no such thing as a superman. God has not called you to be a super-dad, super-husband or super anything. He has called you to be a disciple who makes other disciples. Your family is your greatest discipleship responsibility. If we are to reach the world it must begin at home.