Tag Archives: Aspects of Being a Good Leader


God created time. Time used wisely coupled with God’s gracious provision, enables our children to be content in Christ. It is the universal bank account that puts everyone on the same level. We each have twenty-four hours a day to draw from and invest. At the end of the day, week, month, year, lifetime: what will we have to show for it?

It’s a trade, the most basic of all transactions. Read about successful people and men devoted to the Lord. I dare you to find one that squandered his time. When I was young, I traded my go-cart for a ball glove to a teenage neighbor. I mistakenly thought, “The go cart won’t run, so what good is it?” I didn’t value my go-cart as I should have, and I made a bad trade. Today, it seems, so many squander their time away on poor trades.

Some say that self-discipline/will power is the greatest predictor of individual success, even beyond intelligence. I certainly agree. However, in addition, I have to wonder if the driving force behind self-discipline might be how much a person values his time on earth. Possibly for Christians, the next step up is our level of desire to please our Lord in all things. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).

Will we teach our children to value their time? Productively using one’s time is vitally important in having the funds needed for life. That is foundational in being content in Christ and that is a powerful motivator for self-discipline. Learning to spend their time productively will provide dividends that those who spend their time on entertainment will not receive.

Follow-on thought for Dads.
We often receive e-mails from frustrated, struggling moms who are drowning in desperation. They know that their children are suffering from lack of a productive home and will have lifelong consequences as a result. They want to believe managing their lives is possible. Of those who purchase Managers of Their Homes, we know that some number will still needlessly struggle to be successful. The book is capable of helping them as it has tens of thousands of moms, but what is missing is their husband’s support. Many husbands don’t value time, a peaceful, productive home, and their family pays the price.

An example is bedtime/wakeup time (BTWT). We often hear how a husband likes to stay up watching the news or movies and won’t go to sleep nor get up at a consistent time. We have found over the years that BTWT is the single, biggest predictor of a mom’s success in managing her day. Yet, Dad won’t inconvenience himself to have the discipline to go to bed and get up when he should in order to be an example, leader, and help to his family.

Valuing time is critical to your children’s success. If you aren’t consistent with BTWT, I would encourage you that it is time to begin. Support your wife by being consistent. Your children’s futures are worth it. Don’t you agree?


“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:16

Don’t Be a Squirrel

Go. Dont go. Go. Dont go. Go–lights out. If squirrels were as indecisive and had such poor success in trees when jumping from limb to limb as they do when crossing streets, we wouldn’t have any squirrels.

Dads are faced with a myriad of decisions. For the good of their families, it is essential that they make wise, God-fearing, Spirit-led decisions. We guide our families by learning to listen to the Spirit and obey Him. Small decisions are good training for the bigger ones we will face. There really shouldn’t ever be a need for a “leap” of faith. If He says “Go,” we go. If not, we wait.

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27)


Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 8

(To read the prior parts to this series, please see here.) A short time ago while Teri and I were on our morning walk, she said, “I’m feeling like you have a critical spirit toward me lately. Is that true?” I didn’t enjoy hearing her question because that told me she was not feeling loved. Even worse, she was sensing a negative, critical spirit on my part.

“No, I don’t think so,” I responded, and the conversation drifted onto other things.

I’m not sure of the exact chain of events, but over the next few days the Lord started speaking to my heart. He convicted me of times when I had allowed negative, judgmental thoughts in my mind about Teri. Yes, I finally had to admit it; I did have a critical spirit toward her!

“Mr. Webster” defines critical as “inclined to criticize severely and unfavorably.” Criticize “implies finding fault especially with methods or policies or intentions.” It was true. I was looking at Teri with the predisposition of finding fault. I was allowing myself to criticize certain actions and behaviors of hers in my mind. When I was looking at what Teri did through a magnifying glass, was she able to do anything to my satisfaction? Was she hearing praise and gratefulness for all she did in our home? Clearly not!

Perhaps some might wonder what is wrong with having a judgmental spirit, as long as the negative thoughts aren’t expressed. If you are going to be critical, might it not be acceptable to do it secretly? I suppose in a similar way we might justify being angry on the inside or having secret lustful thoughts, as long as we don’t outwardly show them. The problem is that we can’t be one thing on the inside and another on the outside. We truly are what we are in our hearts. If we lust in our hearts, we are adulterers. If we are angry in our hearts, we are angry men. If we are critical in our hearts, we are critical people. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee” (Proverbs 23:7).

Just like Teri noticed something was wrong, the person our judgmental spirit is directed at will not feel loved. It poisons our thoughts about them. It will affect our words, actions, and attitudes towards them. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (James 3:10-12). What is in our heart directs our speech. “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).

Harboring secret, negative thoughts will damage a husband’s love for his wife. If you have been struggling with loving your wife deeply from your heart, evaluate whether you have a critical spirit. A judgmental spirit will also put up a barrier between you and your child. As loving as we may try to be to them, our spirit will be shouting even louder that we don’t accept them the way they are, we aren’t happy with them, and they’d better change.

Think of a possession that you have that means a lot to you. It very likely isn’t perfect, as few things are. However, for some reason or other, you really like it. Maybe it is your car since men often have some attachment to their vehicles. When you think of it, why is it pleasing to you? What aspects of it come to mind? When you are thinking pleasant thoughts about it, are you thinking about anything negative concerning it?

For example, I spend a great deal of time with my computer every day. I appreciate it, and I am very pleased with it. I seldom think about its negative aspects. It is fairly slow by today’s standards because it is only 450 MHz. It doesn’t have a large hard disk so I have to be reasonably careful with what I store on it. The display has a very large footprint and takes up a great deal of desk space as opposed to the sleek new flat panel displays that are out. It’s in my office in the basement where I don’t have any windows, and it gets quite stuffy in there with the door closed.

Now, what if I started thinking about how slow my computer is, the small hard disk, the clunky display, and how stuffy it is in my office? Would I still have pleasant feelings toward that computer? Of course not! That is the way with anything we allow ourselves to think negatively about. Concentrating on what is not pleasing will erode positive feelings.

We may think we are doing this in secret, but just like hidden anger or lust, it always shows. It comes across loud and clear, as I realized when the spirit of love that Teri normally felt was being dissolved away.

So what do we do if we have a judgmental spirit? How can we stop it? I will share what I did to be free from it. First, I was convicted that it was sin. I am to love and cherish Teri, to die for her if need be (Ephesians 5:25). I am not to sit in continual judgment of her. I confessed this to my Lord Jesus and asked His forgiveness. Next, I went to Teri and confessed that she was right and asked her forgiveness. Then, I asked the Lord to convict me of judgmental thoughts when I was allowing them into my mind. I also asked that He might give me an attitude of gratefulness. I purposed to cast every negative thought down. Not only has Teri not had a husband who is looking at her with faultfinding eyes lately, but she now has a husband who has found a new sense of appreciation for her.

A critical spirit is a cancer that will destroy your ability to delight in the one it is focused on. It isn’t healthy, and it certainly isn’t enjoyable. Do you want to rejoice in the wife of your youth? Purpose to love her and not judge her. What if instead of loving me, Teri were to concentrate on my faults? Now that is a scary thought!

Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 7

(Prior parts to this series can be found here.) I was looking for my glasses in the kitchen when I realized and then said that they were still in the van. John immediately headed for the door to the garage, announcing that he would get them for me. I was grateful for his desire to serve, but told him that I had better retrieve them because I didn’t want them dropped. He assured me that he would be careful, and off he went.

Seconds later John came flying back into the kitchen with the glasses in hand. As he closed the door with the hand holding the glasses, the handle caused him to loosen his tender grip on the glasses, and they headed for the floor. The speed at which he was coming in the door gave the glasses momentum. I watched with no little distress as they went sliding across the tile floor—lens down.

I have been working at laying down anger in my life. Therefore, when I felt anger welling up inside of me, I turned to the wall behind me. I raised my hand and placed my palm against the wall. I didn’t smack the wall, but it was obvious that I would have liked to. With my anger now under control, I turned to face a sweet eleven-year-old who had tears brimming in his eyes. He apologized and said he didn’t mean to do it. He was very sorry.

I told him that was why I didn’t want him to get the glasses as he is always in a hurry and prone to accidents like that. I said it was okay and thanked him for his desire to help. He had something to do after that and went off.

Most would say I did a great job of controlling my anger. I was not harsh, and I didn’t discipline him. Yet, I was angry. Teri observed the situation and could tell I was angry. Several days later I spoke to John about it. I asked him if he thought I was angry. He said, “Yes,” and that was why he started to cry, because he was afraid. Ughhh! How that broke my heart.

Dads, that is why if we want to be good leaders of our homes, we must, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away . . .” (Ephesians 4:31). Our children know when we are angry, and it drives a wedge between them and us. They are afraid of us when we are angry, which is not conducive for having them turn their hearts to us.

The fact is, at that moment, I thought more of my glasses than I did of my son. That is something to repent of before God. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous to you? Yet I wonder how often that happens with other dads as well.

What causes you to respond angrily? Maybe it is a glass of spilled milk, the refrigerator door left open, tools lying in the yard, bikes in the middle of the driveway, lots of screaming and yelling, toys left out and tripped on, doors slammed, a child hurting another child, a child being disrespectful to you or your wife, a child not obeying you, a child mocking you, or any of a limitless list of ways a child could make us angry. We need to step back and ask ourselves, “Does anger achieve God’s results and make us good leaders?” “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

There was a time when I allowed myself to be visibly angry because the children responded so much better when I told them to do something. But it soon became apparent that I was driving a wedge between their hearts and mine. If we desire to raise up godly seed (Malachi 2:15), then anger—visible or invisible—must have no part in our lives.

I expect if we were to put our heads together we could write down a fairly lengthy list of ways our spouses can make us angry. I have noticed that when I’m angry with Teri, it does nothing to improve our relationship. Have you experienced that in your marriage as well? There is something about anger that causes the other person to pull back. They don’t want to open up and become close, because they don’t know that they can relax and not be on the defensive. Anger, even a spirit of anger, will cause the one receiving the anger to put up a shield of emotional protection.

My controlled anger with John that night was as harmful to our relationship as if I had yelled at him. He sensed the internal anger and admitted to me that he was afraid. He had no reason to be afraid as I was calm on the outside, but he sensed my spirit. It was angry. We have everything to win and nothing to lose if we will purpose, by God’s grace, to put away all anger.

Scripture is very clear about putting away anger. Read the following verses.

“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil” (Psalms 37:8).

“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment . . .” (Matthew 5:22). Even if there was to be a cause, we need to consider Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Notice all anger is to be put away.

“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). Again, all anger is to be put away.

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). Look at the other qualities that wrath (anger) is listed among. Would we excuse any of the others in our home?

“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8). Do we want to pray effectively?

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). Our anger will not lead to righteousness in our life or those to whom our anger is directed at.

Out of all the verses in the Bible telling us to put away anger, some will still cling to Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” as giving them freedom to be angry. Yet, they ignore that five verses later we are told to put away ALL anger. When we look at the above verses, it makes it extremely difficult to justify any anger.

As I said earlier, I have purposed to put away all anger by God’s grace. If there is such a thing as anger, with a cause that the Lord would approve of, I can’t imagine experiencing it. I can see what Scripture says about anger and how anger destroys intimacy in the home. It is difficult enough to win the hearts of my family members; I do not want to allow something in my life that will destroy what I’ve worked so hard for.

How about you? What place does anger have in your life? Have you seen anger’s harmful effects on relationships in your family? One resource that was very helpful in my life was Dr. S. M. Davis’ audio, titled Freedom from the Spirit of Anger. Dads, this really is a serious issue. Will you ask the Lord to search your heart and discover how He might remove anger from it? Will you trust Him to give you the grace needed?

Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 6

(To read the other parts in the series, please see this link.) Last month we looked at Lot’s life to see what insight we could glean from it. We saw that Lot was a selfish man who made decisions based on what was good for him. Yet, Lot was referred to as a just man and was still better than the pagans around him. But, was he God’s man?

Based on observation, I find many professing Christians who seem to have a saving faith, yet their walk bears great similarities to Lot’s. We must each ask, “Is it I, Lord?”

The man we are going to look at this month was quite different from Lot, yet he had similar circumstances. Let’s look briefly at Abraham’s life and compare our life to his.

In Genesis 12:1-4 we read, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him. . . .”

What a promise of incredible blessing that was! I find it tempting to think, “How could anyone not act on that?” But let’s look at this more closely, and see if we think we would have obeyed like Abram did.

First, God is telling Abram to leave the security of his extended family. In those days, living by your family was much safer than living by yourself in a foreign country. The men in the family would join together in opposing those who might attack them. By leaving, Abram no longer had that security. Abram trusted God with his life.

God didn’t even tell Abram where He was sending him. Abram was told not only to leave the security of his family but also to go someplace unknown. Most of us would ask ourselves, “What if I don’t like it there? Is this really God’s direction?” There is just something unsettling about not knowing. Oftentimes, we can handle good or bad news; it is the not knowing that “kills” us.

Years ago, at a training clinic for marriage enrichment leaders that Teri and I attended, each spouse blindfolded the other and led him or her around the building. I remember how uncertain I felt (okay, I’ll admit it, even a little fearful at times) as Teri enjoyed leading me on a very strange journey, up and down stairs, in circles, and through different rooms. It was natural for me to want to know where each step was being placed and where I was going to end up. One aspect the exercise demonstrated was how important it was to be able to trust the person leading you. It was much easier to blindly be led about because I trusted Teri and knew she would not take me anywhere that wasn’t good for me, yet because I couldn’t see, I still had an emotional response. Abram not only trusted God, but his expectation was in Him. Abram was not told where, but he went.

What an incredible beginning to Abram’s walk with God. It reminds me of the old saying where one says, “Jump!” and the recipient of the command says, “How high?” However, with Abram, he didn’t even ask how high. He simply obeyed. It is the desire of my life that if God says to do something, I will do it.

Abram traveled to the land of Canaan. Then in Genesis 12:7, God spoke to Abram again and said, “. . . Unto thy seed will I give this land. . . .” God did not give the land to Abram right then, but He said He was giving it to Abram’s seed. I wonder how many of us would be happy if all the blessings God was going to give us were to go only to our children’s children. We would not be able to enjoy them ourselves but would have to be content knowing they were coming. Are we willing to make decisions that will reap a harvest of righteousness only for our children and our children’s children?

As we read about Abram’s life, we are surprised twice by decisions of his that are not representative of a good leader. In fact, we would expect Lot, not Abram, to have made these decisions. God records these events for our benefit. What can we learn from them to help us be good leaders of our families?

In Genesis 12:13 and 20:2 Abram (now Abraham), like a good leader, was “looking down the road” ahead of their travels and thinking about situations they might encounter. Sarah was very beautiful, and Abraham was concerned in his heart that Sarah would be taken to be part of a king’s harem. It must have been fairly common that if the woman was married, the husband was killed and the wife taken. Therefore, Abraham reckoned that he was going to be in serious danger, and he asked Sarah to deceive them by not admitting that she was his wife, but to say that Abraham was her brother (he was her half brother). Deception is not God’s plan.

A good leader should be alert to danger, but he must seek the Lord for the right solution. Abraham’s plan of deception was not of the Lord. God “stepped in” and protected Abraham and Sarah, and there appeared to be no consequences for the deception.

We may be tempted to think the lesson Abraham learned through these situations was to trust God for protection. I believe, though, that an even greater lesson would have been to ask God first before proceeding. I could find no mention in Scripture of where Abraham sought God’s direction prior to traveling to those two areas that got him into trouble. Look how those failures could have been avoided if Abraham had prayed before he went down those roads.

“And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels” (Genesis 12:16). We read how Pharaoh gave Abraham gifts in exchange for Sarah. Then we read in Genesis 16:1, “Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.” Then we read how Sarah gives Hagar to Abraham as his wife so Sarah can claim Hagar’s children as her own. Here is another creative human plan laden with consequences. Yes, it was Sarah’s plan, but Abraham agreed to it and, therefore, owned the consequences.

Now we see that had Abraham not decided to go to Egypt, Hagar would not have been given to them, and she would not be part of Sarah’s scheme for children. Had Ishmael not been born, is it possible that the Arab-Israeli conflict through the centuries could have been avoided? Only the Lord knows, but it is an interesting question. How bitter the fruit we may serve our family when we aren’t following God’s direction.

Do you ever neglect to ask God for direction and then cry out to Him to fix the situation when the road leads to trouble? How much better for us and our families if we cry out to the Lord for direction prior to going down a certain road.

Abraham was God’s man and did so many things right. He had incredible faith in God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. He was obedient to God to the point of being willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. He was satisfied with his descendants receiving the blessings of a homeland, instead of having the blessing himself.

May we be like Abraham in his good points and learn from his failures. May we seek God every morning and at every decision. May we be totally dependent on the Father to direct our lives.

Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 5

(To read the first parts in this series, please see this link.) I had to drive to Kansas City this afternoon to deliver some software to a client. I invited Teri to accompany me. We were enjoying our ride as we traveled down a four-lane section of highway that had a sixty-five mile per hour speed limit and several traffic lights.

I could see the light ahead of me turn red and along with the two cars behind me, we began bleeding off speed as we came to a stop. I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw a burgundy car still traveling at the speed limit, or more, bearing down on the intersection in the left lane next to us. I quickly glanced ahead and saw two cars beginning to pull into the intersection, on their green light, in a collision path. Just then, the burgundy car’s driver slammed on the brakes, and the car began skidding. There was absolutely no way that car was going to stop or even reduce his speed enough to matter.

I quickly looked forward, and the two cars were now approaching the same point on the pavement as the “red-light runner.” The two legal cars hit their brakes and were able to stop before venturing into the path of the speeding car. Obviously, they had seen this car flying down the road and were entering the intersection much more slowly than they might have under other circumstances.

Thankfully, I have never witnessed a fatal accident, but I came as close today as I would ever care to come. Tragedy was averted because the lead car was being observant, looking ahead for danger as he proceeded. Had the driver not been attentive, it likely would have been terrible for all those involved.

What kind of driver are you? I’m not talking about your skills behind the wheel, but your methods as leader of your home.

Old Testament Lot was a man who reminds me of the person driving the burgundy vehicle. If it hadn’t been for God’s grace, he would have reaped more serious consequences than he actually did.

In Genesis 13 we read that there was strife between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s. Abram asked Lot to pick where he wanted to live, and Abram would go somewhere else. “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other” (Genesis 13:10-11).

Lot chose the best for himself. He was a selfish man. Because of decisions like this one, his family would know that most of his decisions would likely have a selfish motive to them. This would cause them to question his leadership of their family. We see this questioning clearly when the Lord was about to destroy Sodom. Lot tried to convince his sons-in-law to leave the city. However, since Lot had not demonstrated real leadership, they would not listen to him or follow him. Instead they thought he was joking.

I believe we see that Lot was also lazy. He was a shepherd, but he ended up living the easy life in Sodom. His motives are later confirmed when the angels tell him to flee to the mountains, but Lot wants to live in another city of his choice. Because of Lot’s laziness, he was willing to raise his family in the morally corrupted environment of Sodom. He knew it was a wicked place; that is why he wanted to protect the angels from sleeping in the city square. Yet, Lot would not take his family away from there for their own good.

May we not be of a like mind with Lot. I struggle with laziness, and that is one small reason why we don’t watch any TV. I know my own sin nature and how tempted I am to watch what is a snare to my soul and would corrupt my family. Sure, a dad can justify the desire to be entertained by feeling he deserves a mindless break and that he will be careful about what he watches. However, regardless of your efforts to avoid damaging shows, you will still be bombarded with lewd and inappropriate commercials. Even news bites present things done in darkness, which Scripture says are not to be spoken of: “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:12). Watching television will have an affect on the dad’s soul and the children’s. Dads, which are we more concerned with: our pleasure and entertainment or the purity of our families? What other harmful influences may there be that we have been too lazy to protect our family from?

Lot was willing to sacrifice his daughters for others. At first that may seem noble, but is it? A noble act would have meant being willing to sacrifice himself for others. That is our example in Christ. (Certainly, Christ would have us sacrifice our selfish entertainment and pleasure to keep our family pure as we serve Him.)

Often parents tell us how they desire to reach the lost by using their children to evangelize in different places and activities. Frankly, as I observe their decisions and listen to the justification, it sounds much like the excuse I believe Lot would use for being willing to send his innocent daughters out to appease a lust-incensed mob. Dads, the result will be the same. I believe you will either lose your children, or they will be corrupted by others’ influence and never be what they could have been. We are to evangelize, but we are to be the ones doing it. May we not sacrifice our children, but protect them as a father should (John 10).

God’s priorities were not Lot’s priorities. In the morning the angels urged Lot to arise, hurry, and flee the city. (How many of us think we would be in bed if we knew our city was about to be destroyed?) In Genesis 19:16 we read that Lot “lingered,” and the angels took hold of his hand and those of his family members, bringing them out of Sodom. If Lot had been in tune with the Lord when he was told to leave all the angels would have seen was his dust. Lot was not a godly leader of his family. We also see this confirmed when his wife looks back after having been told not to. They both loved the easy life, but she was not strong enough to only look forward.

I wonder if this isn’t analogous to dads who choose not to spend time with the Lord Jesus in the beginning of their day. Most often the “reason” is they are too busy. That just isn’t true; we all take time to do what is important to us. Most of us will not go without eating, because we feel it to be important. If our time with the Lord were seen as critical to our walk with Him and leading our family, then we would do it every day regardless of our circumstances. The truth is that we consider other things more important than spending time with our Lord. We are relying more on ourselves than we are the Lord, otherwise we couldn’t bear not to spend time with Him. May we not be found in bed (like Lot) when we have the urgency of meeting with our Lord first thing in the morning.

When the angels had brought them outside the city, they instructed Lot to flee to the mountains. Next, an amazing thing happened. Lot argued with them by saying, “. . . Oh, not so, my Lord” (Genesis 19:18)! This absolutely floors me! He had just been delivered by God’s mercy, after he lingered, and now he wanted to go to another city. What a picture that is of what it takes to pry sin out of our grasp. It cost him most of his family and everything he had. God had given him clear instructions, and he didn’t want to follow them. AUGHHHHH!

I wonder if that isn’t a major reason so many dads really don’t want to begin their day with a quiet time with the Lord. Could it be they don’t really want to hear what the Lord is telling them? Could it be that they don’t want to get too close to the Lord in case He might give them instructions they really don’t want to hear or obey? What price, men, are we willing to pay to have it our way? It may cost us our family as it did Lot.

May we be men of God and not live after Lot’s selfish and lazy example. Whatever it costs us, may we lead our family in paths of righteousness, protect them from evil, and obediently follow God’s direction for our family. May we not endanger our families like the driver of the burgundy vehicle and Lot did theirs.

Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 4

(To read the first parts of this series, please see this link.) The Thursday night prior to Nathan and Melanie’s wedding, we had a “friends of the groom” fellowship. At one point in the evening, two brothers in the Lord were discussing a bit of their common past, while several of us were listening.

They are both West Point graduates and were reminiscing about some of their experiences there. In particular, they were sharing several of their more distressing situations. One told how on occasion he was given orders to do things that were impossible. The one giving the order knew it was impossible but did it to hone the young cadet’s obedience. Both brothers confessed they had wanted to quit many times, but they would not allow themselves to do so. Isn’t it interesting that the military believes that to be a good leader, you must be obedient?

Our neighbor, who is a city police officer, had just finished his dinner break when he walked across the ice-covered street to comment on Nathan and Melanie’s wedding the previous Saturday. He said he appreciated being invited and how much it meant to him. I told him we weren’t sure whether to invite him. Because of his busy schedule, we were concerned the wedding invitation might be an imposition. He said that he loves watching our children grow up, and when he is old, he wouldn’t miss one of their weddings even if he had to be pushed in a wheelchair. He went on to say how he takes great pleasure in our children, as he is involved with children every day who don’t know how to obey.

Not only do the lives of those in the military depend on their ability to be obedient, but our children’s lives do as well. I doubt anyone would question the truth of that statement. However, how aware are we that the lives of those in our family are greatly affected by our ability to obey as well. Drive at speeds exceeding the law, and your family is in danger. If you choose to cheat the government and lie about your taxes, you may go to jail—now that will affect your ability to provide your family with food and housing! If a dad won’t obey his boss, he is at risk of losing his job. Men love their freedom, but often the family suffers consequences if Dad doesn’t obey those he should.

It is impossible for a dad to be a good leader if he isn’t obedient. First, his family knows he is a hypocrite if they see Dad being disobedient while he tells his family to obey him. He may get away with it for a while, but he will eventually lose his children.

Saved dads are both children and soldiers. We are children of God and soldiers of Christ. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17). “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

It was no accident that the Holy Spirit led Paul to refer to those saved as both children and soldiers. There should be no doubt about the importance of obedience in our lives as we endeavor to lead our families. However, do you also get the feeling that obedience is a “dirty” word in Christian circles these days? Begin talking about obedience, and freedom fighters will start crying, “Legalism, legalism!” I hear much talk about freedom in Christ and very little about obedience. Has political correctness neutered God’s Word in the church?

Those who are saved are to obey the Lord Jesus and His Word. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). “And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it” (Luke 8:21).

Just to be certain there is no misunderstanding, obedience does not earn us salvation in any way, shape, or form. It is, however, evidence of our salvation and love for the Lord. The verses just read confirm that obedience gives evidence of our being saved. The point that the freedom fighters miss is that we obey because we love the Lord Jesus. We don’t obey to earn salvation, but we obey out of love for our Lord. The One Who is our Model and Lord was obedient unto death, and He expects our obedience (Luke 17:10). Jesus said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” That is really very simple, isn’t it? Those who love Him little, obey little.

A father’s level of obedience will affect how he leads his family and how his family follows him. First, Christ said obedience reveals one’s love. If we love Christ, we will obey Him, but if we don’t obey Christ, we reveal our love for ourselves. The family knows Dad better than anyone, and as soon as they know anything about Scripture, they are looking to see if Dad is obedient. If Dad isn’t obedient, he will be seen as a hypocrite, and his family will not want to follow what he says. They will tend to follow his example.

A father’s obedience to Christ gives the family confidence in his decisions. They will see that Dad makes decisions based on his obedience to his Lord and Scripture. They will respect Dad as a man of God.

Unfortunately, the disobedient dad’s family will not have confidence in his decisions. Dad’s self-love will cause the family to suspect his motives when he makes decisions. Selfish decisions are easy targets for whining, complaining, and arguing against. If the family member can make Dad miserable enough, then selfishly, Dad may reverse the decision to give himself a little peace.

Obedience makes leading a family much easier than disobedience. Decisions based on the Bible and God’s direction are pointless to attack, as those assaults would have to be directed toward God. It changes the whole attitude in the home.

Obedience will protect your family from sin. In Exodus 24, Moses, Joshua, and the elders went up Mount Sinai as the Lord instructed them. God told the elders to wait at one place while Moses and Joshua climbed higher. Then Moses left Joshua alone and completed the climb to the Lord.

Moses was with the Lord for forty days! I find that absolutely incredible. There is so much more I would like to know about that time. They weren’t told to bring any food, and we can only assume that God intended to somehow sustain them for that long. Moses fasted the entire time and so did Joshua.

But what about the elders? “And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them” (Exodus 24:14). The elders were told clearly to wait for their return. Yet they did not obey (Joshua did obey and look how God later used him). As a result they turned to idolatry by worshipping the golden calf, were immoral, and many were slain. There are tremendous blessings with obedience and chastening with disobedience.

It is likely that many reading this Corner are experiencing discipline from the Lord as a result of disobedience and thereby causing the whole family to suffer. Brothers, repent of the disobedience and wrong choices, and God will pour out His blessings.

Each of us dads, who is a child of God, must take the Bible seriously and obey Him out of love for the Lord Jesus. May we say, “Lord, I will do whatever You tell me to, when You tell me to do it.”

May each of us pick up our Bibles and prayerfully read them every morning as we begin our days. Then we should obediently apply the lessons to our lives daily. It will make leading our families so much easier, and it will cause each of us to strive to keep our lives clean and pleasing to the Lord.

“These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:17). “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).

Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 3

(To read the first two parts of this series, please see this link.) I wonder how many decisions a dad is faced with each day. The more children in the family, the more decisions will need to be made. Last month we saw how a dad’s pride can negatively affect his ability to make the right decision. This month we will look at one area that can have a great positive effect on our decisions.

It is an area that parents profess to have a passionate bias toward, and yet in practice, we may struggle just as much as our children. Because it is critical for a Christian, we work hard to train our children in it.

This concept is so important that Scripture promises special blessing for children who embrace it since it is foundational to reaching Christian maturity. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).

Learning obedience is critical for children because it is an essential part of adulthood. Adults must know how to obey. We must obey the laws of our God and our land.

Based on observation of my family and others, I believe that many, if not most, decisions a dad faces boil down to simple obedience. If that is the case, then why is there such turmoil when trying to decide what to do?

This morning one of my children made a bad decision. He saw one of his sibling’s shoes lying near the top of the basement stairs. Since the shoes obviously did not belong there, he graciously decided to help his brother by delivering at least one of the shoes a bit closer to the basement bedroom. This was a good decision. However, the bad decision came along in the delivery method. This child thought the easiest way to get those shoes in the basement was to kick them, one at a time, down the stairs.

Exercising great caution, he listened for a moment to make certain no one was about to come up the stairs before giving the shoe a mighty kick. Off it sailed into the air. The trajectory carried the shoe so that it was still over five feet in the air at the bottom of the stairs. Unfortunately, my quietly walking wife was just rounding the corner and starting up the basement stairs where her face was on a collision course with the projectile. To everyone’s relief, her reflexes were good, and her hand was able to intercept the flying shoe just prior to facial impact. Her hand was sore, but the wound would have been worse had it been her face.

Now, this child knew he wasn’t to throw or kick things like that. If he had obeyed, there would not have been a problem.

On Christmas Eve I was cooking Mexican meat for the family. It still had quite a bit of juice to cook off in the crock pot, so I thought I would help it along. I overruled the check in my spirit that told me I was about to violate the rules of crock pot use. I wrapped a couple towels around it so it would hold more of the heat in and boil off the juice more quickly. It worked great, as I had hoped it would, but as I removed the towels I saw something I hadn’t counted on. The towels were actually scorched, and the crock pot’s plastic feet had melted. The cutting board I had placed it on was split from the intense heat, and the counter top was too hot even to touch. Could it have ignited? I don’t know for sure, but I do know it was one of the dumbest decisions I have ever made.

It all could have been avoided had I “obeyed” the instruction manual. In my heart I knew I was doing something outside of the design of the appliance. Why is it so difficult to follow instructions?

God gave us His Word to instruct us in how to live our lives. Many, if not the majority, of the answers we are looking for are clearly addressed in Scripture.

Then why do we struggle with decisions? I believe there are two primary reasons. One is we don’t know what His Word says. The second is that, even when we do know, we often don’t want to follow it.

To make wise decisions, we must know the Scriptures well. Friend, there is no shortcut. We must be in the Word every day. Read it, study it, and love it! It will guide you. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105).

I recently dialogued with someone who said that modesty was only a matter of the heart. They explained their thinking: that God looked on the heart, and if they were modest in heart, that would please God. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array” (1 Timothy 2:9). Even a quick reading of the above verse would indicate that modest apparel means modest clothing. Otherwise, after Adam and Eve sinned, God would not have clothed them in animal skins; He would have just looked at them and seen that their hearts were modest and left them alone.

One reason we occasionally hear from a wife who doesn’t wear dresses is that her husband likes to see her in jeans. It is not difficult to discern why a husband might like to see his wife in jeans; however, the dad needs to evaluate the decision in relation to obedience of Scripture. If the choice is to be made between what appeals to the flesh and what is in obedience to God’s Word, we must choose obedience.

Often we will hear of wives who are troubled by the types of things their professing husbands are viewing on the TV or computer. Proverbs 6:25: “Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids” is very straightforward. It is not a suggestion, but a command. “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). We are not just to avoid these things, but we are to make these activities dead and play no part in our lives.

Next time we tell one of our children not to do something, we should ask ourselves if we are applying the same standard in our life. Are they supposed to obey us while we don’t have to obey our Lord? Of course not!

So often I hear from others that all kinds of questionable activities are simply a matter of being free in Christ. That may have a catchy ring to it, but there is no basis for it in Scripture. Would you agree with your child if next time you tell him to do something, he says to you, “I would like to Dad, but I’m free in Christ. I really don’t have to do that”?

Galatians addresses our freedom clearly. We are to be free from the bondage of sin so we may serve one another. We are not free to live as we choose. Galatians 5:13 sums it up well: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Obedience makes the decision process simple. God calls me to obey. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:2-3).

Obedience points the way to how we spend our time. It enables us to know how to lead our family. It makes the decision process much easier.

There will be times when our flesh is hesitant to obey God’s Word, but there is blessing with obedience. The decisions will be easier, your family will flourish in the Lord, and your wife and children will bless you. May we be obedient servants of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 2

Last month I shared that being a good leader of the home involves making wise decisions. The most critical aspect of how to make a wise decision is being “plugged into” the One Who is wisdom personified, and that is Jesus Christ. Since He has a plan for each of our lives, we must seek Him to find out how He would have us lead our families. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

There is a trap that is easy to fall into when leading our families. This trap caused a man to make one of the worst decisions ever recorded in the history of mankind. This man was warned not to make his bad decision, but because of his pride he would not listen. He knew what he should do, but he just couldn’t make the final decision properly. It was his pride that caused him to make this poor choice.

Pilate sentenced the innocent Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, to die a cruel and torturous death on the cross. God used a bad decision for our good as it was necessary for our salvation. God foreknew which decision Pilate’s pride would lead him to make.

Pilate’s wife had warned him. “When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19). In His mercy God gave Pilate a second chance to avoid making this horrible decision. Because of his pride, he would not listen to his wife.

Pilate himself knew that Jesus was innocent, “. . . saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matthew 27:24). Pilate called Jesus just! He had rendered the proper evaluation of Jesus, yet Pilate still made the wrong decision.

Pilate’s position of power was the most important thing to him, and the Jews knew it. “And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha” (John 19:12-13). Pilate’s love for himself and his position is what finally caused him to pronounce a death sentence on Christ, even though he knew Jesus was innocent and being falsely accused because of the Jews’ jealously. You see that in our pride, others are expendable for our selfish motives.

Pride is such an awful thing. It causes us to worry about what others are going say about us if we make a decision they don’t like. Pride is what makes us want to take a poll before we make a decision so we can keep our families happy. Unfortunately, we want them happy so they won’t cause us any trouble.

This is such a terribly sad thing to see in families. For example, what if the children want to watch TV and worldly movies? What if your children decide they no longer want to be homeschooled? What if a daughter wants to dress in tight, seductive clothes? What if the teens want to participate in youth group? I believe we are in agreement that our children can put a tremendous amount of pressure on us. Our pride, thinking of ourselves, may lead us to make the wrong decision. I wonder how many parents of a pregnant, unwed daughter have later regretted decisions they felt they were pressured into.

Please don’t misunderstand. Love for others and wanting them happy is a good thing. But if we are in a position of leadership, that is not to be the basis for a decision. We must be committed to make the right decision regardless of whether people like us for them or not.

All three of the decisions I mentioned last month could have produced people who were unhappy (ranging from disappointed to irate) with me, depending on what I chose. It would have been a safe decision, and easiest on the family, to have Sarah stay home. She would have been disappointed, but she was at peace with whatever I chose. Certainly I knew she would be thrilled to go. I felt God telling me she was to go. I rejected the windows, and as a result, the company discovered an easy cure for the manufacturing defect. Not only am I pleased, but others will benefit as a result. Lastly, I chose to stick to what I believe God’s leading was regarding the message board post. Yes, the woman was exceedingly displeased and expressed it with no little passion. However, it was the right decision.

The Jews would have been extremely upset with Pilate had he released Jesus. This would have been a real test of what kind of man Pilate was. I find that it is an incredible test for me, too, when I make an unpopular decision. About six years ago, I decided we were going to change churches, and the family was not pleased with my choice. I had agonized over the decision and believed the Lord was saying we needed to change, but the family was involved and comfortable where we were attending. I made the decision that we needed to change, and we did. Time has a way of proving decisions, and soon the family all saw that it was God’s plan for us.

I have also made poor decisions in the past because I struggle with pride. Two decisions in particular come to mind, and both had to do with one of my children. This child is very skilled at applying emotional pressure. Instead of dealing with the root cause, I gave in on both decisions. Over time my heart convicted me, and I asked that child’s forgiveness. In addition, the child and I jointly chose to reverse those decisions.

Pride will also lead us to make stupid decisions. “And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not” (2 Kings 20:13). Hezekiah’s pride caused him to want to show those representing the king of Babylon everything of value. In return, the king of Babylon would later attack and carry away all of the treasures Hezekiah had shown the Babylonian emissaries.

Pride may lead a father into purchasing a bigger house or a fancier car just so he might feel good about himself. We have also heard of wives who say that their husbands want them to dress immodestly to show off for other men. Those types of decisions can lead to situations that might be regretted in years to come. Severe money problems and moms who feel used are recipes for divorce. Just like Hezekiah’s poor decision, our decisions prompted by pride may not have immediate consequences, but the consequences will come nonetheless.

There is so much more that could be said about how our pride will cause us to make terrible decisions. However, we can see the serious danger our family is in when we make decisions that are influenced by our pride. “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). Our Lord will give us the right decision if we will humble ourselves.

May we be men of God and pray, “Lord, may I cling to You and know Your mind so I may serve those You have called me to serve. May I protect and lead them in the way You would have them to go. Lord Jesus, enable me to be a man of God.”