Richard Exley Ministries

The Spiritual Leader

Although the vast majority of Christian husbands would agree that a man has no higher responsibility than to be the spiritual leader of his home, many men have only the vaguest idea of what that really means. In truth, most Christian husbands would be hard pressed to write a job description for the position. And herein lies our problem – we know that God expects us to be the spiritual leaders of our family, but we don't have a clue where to begin.

Let me share three principles which I believe will help you get started:

1) A spiritual leader must minister out of the overflow of his own spiritual      life.
2) A spiritual leader must lead by example.
3) A spiritual leader must establish traditions that can be passed from one generation to the next.
Let's consider these one at a time.

Principle # 1: Minister out of the overflow. Being the spiritual leader of your family is something you are before it is something you do. It goes without saying that you cannot be a spiritual leader of any kind unless you are a spiritual man. Therefore the first duty of a Christian husband and father is to cultivate his personal spiritual life. This can only be accomplished through the consistent practice of spiritual disciplines. Things like prayer, Scripture reading, study, fellowship, worship, and service. The man who makes these disciplines a regular part of his life will grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. And in the process he will equip himself to be the spiritual leader of his family. (click here to continue reading)

Principle # 2: Lead by example. Most of what I know about being the spiritual leader in my home I learned from my father. He wasn't a man much given to words, at least not with us kids. I can't remember a single time when he sat me down and tried to teach me anything. Yet, almost everything I know about life and godliness I learned from him. He taught me how to live, by living a godly life before me.

I've never heard him curse, and I seldom heard him complain, but I did hear him pray a lot. Many a morning I was awakened in the pre-dawn darkness by the sound of his voice drifting in from the living room. Well do I remember slipping out of bed and tip-toeing down the hall to listen as Dad prayed for my mother and us kids. Somehow I felt loved and secure knowing he was praying for us. And when a teenage problem created a momentary crisis in my young life, he was always there. After listening to me pour out my heart, he would say, "Let's pray about it," and we would kneel together on the hardwood floor of the living room and talk to God.

Yet, as far as Dad was concerned, being the spiritual leader of our home was more than just devotions and intercessory prayer. For him it meant being a good steward of our resources and a caring husband. In addition to being a more than adequate mechanic, who serviced and repaired his own cars, Dad was also a willing helper to my mother who had her hands full with four kids. He changed diapers, helped make up beds, washed and dried dishes, and did just about anything else that needed done. From him I learned what it meant to be a servant-leader years before that phrase was coined.

Principle # 3: Establish traditions that can be passed from one generation to the next. In our home, family tradition was established early, and carefully kept. That may sound restrictive to you, but it provided the routine which freed us to enjoy family life with a minimum of hassles. Things like prayer at meal time and church attendance – each and every time the church doors were open – were givens. And since the family routines were clearly defined and carefully kept, there was seldom any reason to challenge them.

Although the spiritual traditions that one generation passes to next are seldom practiced in exactly the same way, the spiritual values and benefits remain intact. For instance, I seldom pray alone in the living room as my father does, but I have made it a regular habit to drive to the church for early morning prayer. And when Leah was still at home I would often kneel beside her bed after she was asleep and pray for her. Even now when she and her husband face a challenging situation, they often call and we pray together by phone. For Brenda and me, a shared prayer is often the last thing we do before shutting out the light at the end of the day.

I'm sixty years old now, and I realize that there are many things I may never accomplish. For instance, I will probably never be invited to preach at the General Council of the Assemblies of God. I may never write a book that sells a million copies. I may never serve as pastor of a church of several thousand members, and I will probably never be elected to an important position in my denomination.

And that's okay. Achievements of that nature, while gratifying, pale in comparison with the true achievements of life – the shaping of the faith and character of our families.

I'm convinced that when we stand before God, at the final judgment, He will not ask us about our honors and the awards we have won. He will not ask us about the degrees we have earned, or the wealth we have amassed. Rather He will ask, "Where are the children I entrusted to you?"

In light of that, the greatest reward a man could ever hope to receive, this side of eternity, is to see his children cherishing the faith that he entrusted to them. And to watch with thanks¬giving as they make the family's spiritual traditions their own and a vital part of their children's lives.

This article has been excerpted from 
“The Making of a Man” by Richard Exley
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