Dad, the Spiritual Leader

How comfortable are you with your role as the spiritual leader of your home? Is this something you willingly own as your responsibility? How do you view it compared to your calling to provide for the physical needs of your family?

We can be wonderful providers for our families and yet, after a full life, have each of our children end up in hell or as worldly, lukewarm Christians. That seems to put the issues into perspective, doesn’t it? Have we spiritually reproduced death and carnality, or vibrant offspring of the Lord Jesus?

I remember at one point in my life smugly thinking, “I’m doing what I should as the spiritual leader of my home.” We were homeschooling, the children were in Sunday School, and I was having bedtime devotions (a pretty shallow one, but it counted, didn’t it?) with the children. What else was there?

Think about Moses for a minute, and God’s calling him to lead His people. Moses kept telling the Lord he was not equipped to properly lead the Israelites. Even after God said He would enable Moses for this job, Moses still back-peddled. Finally, in Exodus 4:14-16, “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses,” and God agreed to use Aaron. “And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.”

I’m grieved by how few fathers really take the role of being the spiritual leader of their homes seriously. There are either excuses about capabilities and gifts or no real effort beyond going through the basics. God equips those He calls. We must believe that God will equip us to do the job He has given us. He gave Moses signs of his authority, and said Moses was to “be to him instead of God.” Isn’t that an incredible statement? Moses’ actions were to be a picture of God in the flesh.

Is it any wonder so many have poor concepts of God when their fathers were terrible examples? What an awesome responsibility we have as fathers. God intended that we dads help form the God image in the minds of our children. That is one reason the Lord’s Prayer begins, “Our Father which art in heaven. . . .”

We have no greater responsibility than, as far as we are enabled by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to demonstrate Christ to our families. Christ said if you have seen Me you have seen the Father. His purpose in coming to earth was to reveal the Father. Are we able to fully grasp the seriousness of this calling? Our desire needs to be to live as Christ in full view of our families. We must be crying out to the Lord on behalf of our families, dying to self daily, and if necessary, giving our life for them.

Moses was a wonderful picture of that as he cried out to the Lord for the Israelites. I was greatly challenged by Moses’ response to the Israelites making the golden calf while he was on the mountain. God was ready to kill them all and make Moses into a mighty nation. Yet what did Moses say? In Exodus 32:32 he said, “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.”

I believe that is referring to the Book of Life where the names of the saved are recorded. I think Moses was demonstrating his willingness to go to hell if it meant the rest of the Israelites might live. Here we have the picture of Christ’s atonement for our sin made as an offering to the Lord. When that sank in, I was challenged to the depth of my heart. Moses was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for those he was called to serve.

May we bring our families before the Lord constantly as Moses did in the Tent of Meeting. May our families see us going to the Lord in prayer as the Israelites saw Moses. May we take our calling as a serious matter of life and death.

Offensive Child Training

Do you ever feel like you are always on the defensive in raising your children? Does it seem like you are forever “putting out fires,” being a “referee,” acting as “judge and jury,” or disciplining? It can appear that way in our home, and I find it becomes very wearisome for me when this is the case. I would rather be on the offensive with my children, but how is this accomplished?

First and foremost is the area of prayer. Prayer is the arena where we truly let go of raising our children in our own strength and rely on the Lord. We will obviously be bringing our children’s needs to the Lord by defensive praying, but we can also be praying positively for our children through offensive praying.

Praying Scripture is a great way to be on the offensive with our children. We can pray some of Paul’s prayers, “Lord, fill Nathan with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That Nathan might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made Nathan to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light” (paraphrased from Colossians 1:9-12).

There is another way to be on the offensive concerning child training and that is through what I will call character-teaching sessions. What would happen if you set aside fifteen minutes each day to “work” on character needs? I think this small amount of time would go a long way in helping to prevent daily problems with the children.

For example, this summer we were teaching our younger children to answer with, “Yes, Ma’am. No, Ma’am. Yes, Sir. No, Sir.” This was being accomplished by dropping one M&M into a mug with their name on it each time they respond in the desired fashion. At an approved time, the children would be allowed to eat their earned M&Ms. We also made this into a game for character-teaching time.


“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Please pick up the Legos.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” I popped two M&Ms into his mouth and another one when he returned after finishing his pick up.


“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Mommy wants you to take these socks and put them in the dirty clothes hamper.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Again, two M&Ms were immediately given and a third one offered when she returned. We continued until all the little tasks were completed, and would you believe they didn’t want to stop even when I couldn’t find anything else to do?

This training was so successful that the children were saying “Yes, Sir” to Nathan, our twenty-one-year-old son. Nathan was pleased enough with this show of respect from his younger brothers and sisters that he purchased a three-pound bag of M&Ms, and another one of Skittles, to continue the character-teaching rewards.

Let me share another example that was recently sent to me by a mom who has begun setting aside a character-teaching time for her children each day. This mom says,

“I also have a half-hour block at 8:00 a.m. called ‘Training Time’ and so far I have taught the 4 older children (ages 7 and younger): how to wash their hands with soap in the bathroom without making a mess or pumping out half the bottle of soap; how to quickly get down from the table, put their dishes on the counter, wash their hands and face, and go into the toy room; and how to do the morning routine properly (get up, dressed, make bed, tidy room, look at a book on their bed). They actually enjoy the practice time since I am calm and not stressed, and it’s fun to have everyone else watching them as they do a task right. I have seen how just this little bit of practice has gone a long way! I think I will keep a list of things I want to teach them (like where to stand when someone rings the doorbell, how to quickly get their seatbelts on, answering the phone correctly, etc.) posted on my fridge, like you suggested a while back.” Tracy

I feel so much better when I am doing something constructive to help my children with their behavior. We can make it into an enjoyable time, so that they hardly even realize they are learning a beneficial character trait. The time may be devoted to issues that have to do with manners and routines. This is important when we consider how much of our nagging and reminders go toward things like, “Did you brush your teeth? Don’t forget to hang up your clothes! Where do boots go when we take them off? Please wait patiently for your turn in the bathroom.”

We can also use this time to discuss situations that might occur between the children and how they could deal with them in a manner that would be pleasing to the Lord. We could even play-act some typical scenarios that occur regularly and practice the right responses in them.

So, what about your home? Are you always on the defensive? Do you think it would be worth investing time in prayer and teaching to be on the offensive? May I encourage you to consider this a wise use of your time.