Who is the spiritual leader of my home? Any entity must have a leader for it to survive, progress, and flourish. He or she is entrusted with promoting and instilling the common objective to foster success of the stated goal. Moreover, the head is responsible for the adherence to all of the principles as required for the accomplishment of the mission. The physical church needs a strong spiritual leader as its shepherd. Likewise, every household should have a designated spiritual leader. The familial spiritual leader serves as an example and offers instruction for the further cultivation of the other members’ spiritual walk. When more of our homes inhabit strong spiritual leaders, there will be fewer houses possessed by the lyrics of Cardi B and Lil Nas X.
Charles Spurgeon preached, “when fathers are tongue-tied religiously with their offspring, need they wonder if their children’s hearts remain sin tied?” When we instill the core principle of loving the Lord your God with all of our hearts and all of our souls and with all of our strength, Deuteronomy 6:5 becomes a natural way of life for our household. When something becomes instinctive, there is less room for insecurity.
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The Absence of Spiritual Leadership in the Home
The apostle Paul when writing to the church at Ephesus designated the husband the head of the household, just as Christ is the head of the church. The designation of the male as the spiritual leader of the home is more than a mere suggestion or preference – it is a calling. In today’s society, many of our households are void of any spiritual male leadership. This absence should make all husbands and fathers insecure and anxious over the future of their marriage and the lives of their children. The failure to instill biblical values and doctrine within your family is fatal. Deuteronomy 6:6 tells us “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts” and instructs us to “impress them on your children.” Future insecurities resulting from a discussion about transgender and/or same-sex marriages will be increasingly lessened by instilling Mark 10:6-9 in the minds of your children at an early age.
The reasons for the absent spiritual male in the household vary, but the most concerning and probably the most consequential is neglect. Thankfully, many mothers and wives voluntarily take the reigns as spiritual heads of the household because the man of the house is either absent physically and/or spiritually. However, the husband remains the ideal and model spiritual leader of the home. With the prevalence of divorced and single-mother households, we can’t underestimate the importance of females filling the roles and accepting the calls as the spiritual head when the male is absent. She fulfills the void of the male leader with the same enthusiasm and competence. With any leadership capacity whether it be for a corporation, school, or church, the person put into the position naturally has insecurities that must be overcome to be effective. The existence of insecurities within the spiritual leader is no less prevalent and creates a hindrance unless defeated. Here are four ways to overcome insecurities about being the spiritual leader in your home.
First and foremost, the household spiritual leader must fully accept the call from above as the spiritual head of the family. By not fully shouldering the responsibility or doing so half-heartedly, insecurities are inevitable. By embracing the role, the home’s leader does so realizing the biblical and spiritual mandate of the call from Biblical scripture and the Holy Spirit. The leader should undertake this designation as a “calling from above.” Then, he will give the charge all the serious attention necessary.
Notice the beginning verses from both the books of Romans and 1 Corinthians. Paul made it a point to mention his “calling” to be an apostle. He had the choice to be a servant, but did not have the option to be called as an apostle. Certainly, he could have ignored or disclaimed the acceptance and responsibilities of the calling, but yet, such refusal would not have lessened or eliminated God’s desire for him to perform his duties. By consenting to the calling and making note of such a decision, Paul makes it a point to denote this calling in a manner of authority. Paul did not undertake apostleship in the power and authority of himself. His calling and authority originated and was given by way of the spirit and the sanctification of “the gospel of God.”
Similarly, the authority of the calling of the spiritual household leader has been specified and thus, needs be relayed to the members of the household. This communication will also involve the expectations and duties of the other members within the home. The spiritual leader cannot be the sole spiritual participant of the household. Each member of the home needs to have certain individual responsibilities. These duties could include anything from bringing forth ideas for a family Bible study, leading the family in prayer, preparing the room for study, or reminding the members of the family’s spiritual schedule.
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2. The Cost of Neglect
Any insecurity can be overcome by the realization and acceptance of the ramifications of not having a spiritual leader in the home. Charles Spurgeon advised parents to “train your child in the way you know you should have gone yourself.” Similarly, John Owen declared, “the foundation of true holiness and true Christian worship is the doctrine of the gospel” and “when Christian doctrine is neglected, forsaken, or corrupted, true holiness and worship will also be neglected, forsake, and corrupted.”
A parent is guilty of spiritual child or spousal abuse by neglecting this commanded responsibility. Just as it is important to pack the child’s school lunch for physical nourishment, we must provide spiritual nourishment by valuing the word of God in our household before the child enters the world for the day.
Consider the miracle of Jesus feeding 5000 in the sixth chapter of John. In verse 9, John wrote, “there is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” No great amount of discernment is necessary to realize that this child was reminded and given this provision by his parents before he left the home that morning. In verse 13, we see that from these five loaves, “they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above them that had eaten.” Jesus was able to take what the lad was given and multiply the provisions for others as a consequence. Not only did the child benefit from the home’s leadership, but also it resulted in a positive impact on the lives of thousands of others.
In contrast, consider the stain in the priesthood of Eli and the demise of his sons Hophni and Phineas because of household spiritual neglect. Eli was the high priest, yet his sons were described to be “sons of Belial” in 1 Samuel 2:12. One might say, “Eli had no control over his adult son and they were merely backslidden.” However, 1 Samuel 2:12 goes further and explains they “were corrupt” and “did not know the Lord.” Eli did nothing to rebuke or correct the corrupt actions of his sons as they were allowed to continue to tarnish worship at the temple. From Paul’s writing in the New Testament, we might surmise that Eli would be disqualified from church leadership today because of his parental failures. Spurgeon preached “let no Christian parents fall into the delusion that Sunday School is intended to ease them of their personal duties.” Look around. The cost of spiritual child abuse is high.
We conquer leadership insecurities by preparing ourselves. Spiritual preparation involves a consciously, regularly, deliberately focused study of the Word of God. Paul, in 2 Timothy 2:15, wrote to “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The household spiritual leader must do “spiritual pushups” to be equipped to lead and teach the family over which leadership was given.
Great insecurities will abound if we attempt to lead a family Bible study in the manner we gave an oral report on a novel we did not read in the eighth grade. When not sufficiently prepared, we begin with self-doubts. A lack of preparation gives fertile land to the devil and all of his insecurities which deplete any confidence. Intellect and education have nothing to do with this preparedness. The Holy Spirit leads, guides, and instructs an individual who is doing the work of the Lord. In Hebrews 13:21 we are given the promise that God will “equip [us] with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight.” The Holy Spirit gives understanding and spiritual discernment which are outside the curriculum of any public school system or awarded degree.
In James 1:5, we are taught, “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” The ability to spiritually understand and convey scripture and doctrine is only given by the Holy Spirit by and through our faithful prayers asking for boldness and guidance. As Psalm 23 reminds us that God is our good shepherd, the family’s spiritual leader is its shepherd. This role requires that we pray for the ability to lead our families on paths of righteousness through the Spirit and Word of God. Further, we have confidence as Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” We can have confidence that we will be equipped for the position for which we were called.
Prayers are necessary for our protection and our preparation. William Gurnal wrote that “the Christian’s armor will rest except it be furbished with the oil of prayer.” The prayerful reading and studying of the Word are buttressed by deliberate meditation. David wrote in Psalm 1:2 that the blessed man’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.” Thus, our preparation consists of reading, studying, and meditating on the Word of God as well as fervent prayers for the full realization of His promises.
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4. Expectations and Schedule
Finally, the household spiritual leader can subdue insecurities by developing and outlining a spiritual schedule with reasonable but detailed expectations for the members of the family. From the beginning, God had great expectations for the household leader and the members thereof.
In Genesis 18:19, the Lord told Abraham, “that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” Notice the responsibility of commanding and the promised result. In Ephesians 6:4, Paul in agreement taught that fathers are to “bring [their children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” He went even further in 1 Timothy 3:2-5 and wrote that the spiritual leader of the church “must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him.”
We can conclude that in order to be an effective leader in the church house, the husband must first serve that role in his own household. This battle plan should entail details as to when the family will have regular Bible study as a family, when it will have family prayer, and the expectation of regular church attendance for mid-week Bible Study and regular Sunday worship services. When a plan is outlined and expectations are relayed, the family is prepared and the possibility of discontent stemming from surprises will be minimal. The voicing of discontent, whether legitimate or not, plants a seed of insecurity within the heart and mind of the spiritual leader. Our family must know where we stand. Our houses need Joshuas who declare, “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!”
Originally published Saturday, 25 March 2023.