Some Specific Tips On Leading Your Family


I promise, I am not writing this as an expert.  I am no expert.  But a friend suggested the other day that I write a post on fathering and being a husband.  A practical post.  A post filled with some specifics.  

And I didn’t have a sermon to work on this week, so I spent my lunch break on this.  

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’ve been married about 8 years.  I have 3 children already born, 1 who’s in Heaven, and 1 due, Lord willing, in November.  I’ve also been shaped by being a pastor/elder for about 5 years.  So there we are.  

I hope these can be of help and be adapted to your situation. 

Some tips on leading your family in Christ:

  • Say Sorry When You’ve Sinned Against Them

It kind of surprised me that this was a novel concept to some of my acquaintances and co-workers.  When in passing I’ve mentioned that I’ve apologized to my children for sinful anger towards them and asked their forgiveness, it’s at times seemed to take them aback.  I would’ve thought that adult human beings would understand that if we can do wrong to our neighbors or friends then we can do wrong to our children (and wives).  Sin is sin, and Scripture is clear that it needs to be confessed to God and to the party that we’ve sinned against.  

Plus, if I want my kids to confess and repent of their sins, I need to do it, too. 

  • Worship God As A Family Daily

Have family worship.  Have family worship.  Please, please, please have family worship.  

My kids are 5, 3, and 1, so this is a season of worship being fairly short.  But the fact that it’s daily, rain or shine, busy day or not, has yielded tremendous fruit.  Seriously.  As a family, we’ve gone through Jude, Revelation, Mark, Acts, Genesis, Exodus, and now Leviticus, and my two older ones have a pretty good understanding of the story God is telling in creation, history, and Jesus.  Just because of that.  There’s no magic.  It’s just because they hear the Bible and its stories in context every day.  

The way it works for us is very simple:  

  1. 3-5 minutes of reading or summarizing a section of the book of the Bible we’re in (usually about a chapter).
  2. Singing a song together.
  3. One or more of the kids praying to God for a family request as I lead and nudge them in the right direction.  
  4. We’ll typically end with a little bit of a Christian fictional book (we finished Pilgrim’s Progress last year and are reading through The Chronicles of Narnia now) or a short animation or video of the Bible story we’re in.  The Bible Project videos have been helpful for that second option.  

That’s it.  Bible, song, prayer, story/video.  The whole thing is 10-15 minutes tops.  And we’re flexible.  I often lead it at the dinner table, but not always.  At least once a week we end up doing it on the van, on the way to the store or small group or Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house.  
Again, what I’d commend to you with all my heart, if you hear nothing else I’m saying, is that you do worship God as a family daily.  No matter how you’re feeling, no matter how bad the day is.  5 minutes every day for 2 years adds up.  We know this with exercise, and I believe it’s no less true for taming our family’s hearts.  I’ve witnessed it.  I wholeheartedly encourage you to have short (or long, if you can handle it) family worship every single day.  It’ll yield precious fruit if it’s regular, even if it’s not always breathtaking or particularly moving in the individual moment or instance.  

  • Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

This kind of goes along with family worship being daily, but for kids this is so key that it deserves its own point.  Repeat truth in your home.  Find phrasing that is Biblically faithful and then use it as often as you can.  Here are a few examples of phrases my kids can say in their sleep, now, just because of my repeating them for 2-3 years:

“Sin brings death, Jesus brings life!”

“God saves bad people.”

“God will throw Satan in the deep, deep hole” (from when we read through Revelation). 

“We honor mother and father, because it keeps us safe and makes God happy.”

“Jesus teaches people, Jesus helps people, Jesus heals people, and Jesus loves people.”

“The church has a story to tell, and that story is about Jesus!”

We make it fun.  We say them loud and smiling and sometimes in silly voices, but above all my kids know that those things they’re saying are true and good and important.  And they know that those are the 3 reasons Daddy repeats them to them and to himself.  

  • Don’t Fear Saying “I Don’t Know”

God already knows you’re a human, Dad/Husband.  He knows that you have ignorances.  Yes, you’re the head of your wife and of your family as a whole, but you’re also frail and sinful and growing in grace and truth. 

I have to fight this fear all the time.  I want people to think I’m the perfect husband or father or pastor, that I know the most or am the Godliest.  I’m often terrified of having myself doubted in any of those capacities.  So I have to remind myself (like right now) that God already knows my weaknesses, and has called me to this family anyway.  I can be transparent about the things I don’t know or can’t do, and in the process teach my kids to rely on the One who does know all things.  

  • Keep Your Wife First

I am one flesh with her, not my children. 

I made vows to her that I made to no one else, including my children.  

Men, our kids will leave us someday and, Lord willing, cling to their own spouses.  That’s His design.  And it’s therefore it’s also His design that in marriage, and not in parenthood, we have promised to care for another human being into old age and until we die.  

I pledged before God to cherish this woman in a very special way, a way unique to her and a way that is made, by its very nature, to be exclusive.  

My marriage is glorious and deserves to be prized above all other human relationships He forms for me.  That’s the design.  

  • Have Fun

This is the one I struggle with the most, but it’s so key.  These are blessings, these wives and children we’ve been given. We should enjoy them to His glory! 

So specifics.  Right.  

Take them to Chuck E. Cheese’s.  Even on a school night, once in a while.  Don’t be afraid to break an unspoken rule from some hidden curriculum in your mind.  Go get ice cream at 9 o’clock on a school night once in a blue moon.  These are children given to you to raise in fear and love of God, to cherish and enjoy and give memories to.  They weren’t given to the local school board or to your neighbor or to that judgmental relative you want to impress.  

And if it’s not rules that keep you from having fun but your own silly hobbies or pleasures, then throw them out.  Seriously.  If Call of Duty or BW3’s or golf is standing between you and ever playing Uno with your daughter or ever wrestling with your little boy or ever having playful and flirtatious conversations with your wife, toss the hobby aside.  Pare it back or quit it altogether.  These are souls given as blessings to you, little eternal people He has populated your life with, or in the case of your wife, a friend and lover He has united you to for life.  They are more important than video games or fantasy football leagues, and having fun with them is more valuable than having fun with a work buddy you won’t know in 12 years.  

  • Love Jesus

I’m ending here.  Christian husbands and dads, stay personally connected to your God.  The more you love Christ, the more you’ll love what He loves.  Those who truly love Him walk in obedience to Him, and the more you love the more you obey.  Being a good husband and a good father best flow from a love we’ve already tasted.  

Specifics.  

Read at least a chapter of the Bible daily by yourself.  Pray by yourself every single day. Ask God to help you love His Son.  Pray daily for your children’s salvations, or if they’re already born again, then pray daily for their spiritual growth.  

But however you apply this, walk daily in worship of King Jesus.  The days I am a deficient father and husband are the days I am a legalist or an unrepentant, hardhearted man or a doubter in my Savior.  Worship is the wellspring that good fatherhood and good love for my wife come from, and idolatry and sin are the poison that make the bad days insufferable.  For them and for me.  

All right, that’s it for today.  

I hope this helps your family, or, if you are single, helps to frame some of your thinking about family.  The friend who texted me to write this is himself single, so I suppose all different stripes of Christian (and non-Christian) are curious about this sort of thing.  And that’s healthy, I think.  

We worship a good God.  And He is a Father.  And a Husband.  

And He is the best of both.  

So I want to live in that light.  

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Re:  Wonder Woman


A culture that does not even have a coherent answer to what a woman is is not fit to give anyone a feminine icon.  

Me:  “What is a woman?”

America:  “A strong, independent human.”

Me:  “So can he be a woman?  Steve over there?”

America:  “If that’s what he identifies as.”

Me:  “So what is a man, then?”

America:  “Look, Wade, these are really just arbitrary social categories, anyway.”

Me:  “If they’re arbitrary, then why are you trying to give me a ‘feminine‘ icon?”

America:  “Umm…”

Me:  “Can that guy over there bear children?”

America:  “Umm…”

Me:  “You can get back to me.”

Our culture no longer accepts that God created men and women, at least not in its most prevalent institutions and platforms.  Instead, down deep in its bloodstream, is the belief that no one created us.  And from that flow at least a couple of assumptions.  (1) We don’t owe anyone anything for our existence, or owe anyone anything as created moral beings with moral obligations, and (2) There’s no objective standard of definitions that are just true, not conjecture.  

Now on that (2), abortion rests.  We get to define what a human is, each of us individually, because there isn’t any true answer to the question.   But also on that one rests this dangerous, human-assaulting and humanity-assaulting thing that I’ll call “gender confusion.”  There isn’t anyone to tell us what a man is and there isn’t anyone to tell us what a man should do, our culture says.  There isn’t anyone to tell us what a woman is or what a woman should do.  

“But,” our culture says, “we’ll darn sure tell you what a woman is not.  And no one can tell us what a woman should be.”

Our culture has convictions, but it can’t give a coherent, thorough-to-the-bottom defense of them.  And it can’t tell us why its convictions are right.  It says it knows that women are not designed, when married, to submit to their husbands.  But it won’t, and can’t, coherently say what they are designed for in marriage.  Or in society.  Or as mothers.  Or as daughters.  

This came up when a movement started to swell to allow women into combat situations in the US Armed Forces, and then when two Republican candidates for the presidency in 2016 said they favored women having to register for the draft.  Our culture has produced an ethos where no one could have the down-to-the-ground logical reasoning to say why that was utter nonsense. 

And then it also comes up with this Wonder Woman schtick.  

Here is a fundamental question:  Are women supposed to rush into conflict to save men?  Is that a good thing to be normative?  

Let me ask the question from my vantage point, standing over here on a solid, level ground called “God made the World through Jesus and He gets to say what’s good:”  Are women designed and called by God to rush into battle and save men?

The answer is no.  No, they are not.  No, it is not good for that to be normative.  It would not be healthy and fitting with human flourishing for a society to bless or be proud of its women rushing to the front of conflicts to protect its men.  

No, a society that blessed that should be ashamed.  

We can rail against this all we want, we can be uncomfortable with it until we’ve bitten our nails clean away, but God made men with the design of physically and spiritually protecting their wives, daughters, and the women they are bound to, as well as, in many cases, women and all those who are weaker than them generally.  

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 

1 Peter 3:7

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’  Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.  But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. 

Genesis 2:18-25

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.  Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 

1 Timothy 2:8-15

God did not design grown women to lead, protect, and save grown men.  Men should want to take the first bullet, to sacrificially lead the way, and to spend themselves to protect women.  While that may not be what happens in each and every circumstance (a woman may save a physically disabled man, for instance), it is the design.  It is what is normative and praiseworthy.  

Our culture seems to want to say, “What’s a woman, you ask?  A woman is a strong and resilient human being.  What’s a man?  Well, a man is something else, we’ll get back to you on that.  But both are the same.  I mean, they can’t be the same, I guess, because we’re telling you what each is, and because we also are telling some men they can be women and some women they can be men.  But men and women are not different.  Get it?  They’re the same and can do all the same things and are totally identical, but some of the one are really the other.  But don’t don’t you dare tell me what the one or the other is.  Or should do.  Nobody really made us or gets to tell us what we should be or should do.”

It’s incoherent.  Our culture has no robust definition of woman or womanhood.  All it can offer is stories and images of women doing those noble and good things that God calls men to do.  But at the same time it supports some men wanting to pretend to be women (the very thing it says are just like men) and celebrates (albeit totally incomprehensibly) “womanhood.”  

This is folly, guys.  Women and men were made in the image of God, and made wonderfully distinct.  Women are a beautiful creation of God.  When in congruence with God’s pattern, they reflect His glory and beauty and majesty in their gentleness, their motherly strength, their physical gifts, their Godly obedience to their husbands, their discipling of their sons and daughters, their teaching of younger women, their resilient faith in their Father, their deep and fierce love, their faithfulness, and their rich emotional palate.  

Our culture tries to rob women of their God-given identity by telling them to just be like men, because being what God made a woman to be isn’t good enough.  

If you can’t answer how men and women are differently glorious, if you can’t answer the question of why God didn’t just create two men or two women in the Garden of Eden, then you’ll inevitably tell one to just be more like the other.  

This isn’t pro-woman.  It’s anti-woman.  It’s saying, “‘Woman ‘ isn’t good enough for us.  Instead, let’s just have ‘physically smaller man with long hair.’

“And, um, we’ll give it boots and a rope thingy.”

Redemptive Manhood


Because it imitates the Lord, Godly manhood is inherently redemptive.   It reclaims.  It protects.  It builds.  It spends itself and risks itself on others.

It will, if you don’t mind my saying so, carry a cross. 

A Godly man will use himself for the good of others.  A fleshly man will use others for the good of himself.

And so, and this is key, Godly manhood is costly to the man himself.  Because he is purchasing something.  Procuring something.  Redeeming something.

When it comes to fatherhood, for instance, a man shouldn’t expect to reap the later rewards of fatherhood if it isn’t costing him anything when the kids are young.  A smarter man than me (Doug Wilson) said that a dad shouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t able to cash checks from an account he never made any deposits to.  Even if his name is on that account.

When it comes to marriage, a Godly man should expect to exhaust himself in prayer and devotion to his bride.  The Boazes of the world wear themselves out for their beloveds.

For the church, for his family, for the lost, a man who is living out the creative, protective, glorious work God designed men to do will trade some of his comforts, spend from his strengths and his time.  He will think and pray and act on behalf of others.  He will leverage himself for the wellbeing of other people and mortgage his abilities for the glory of God.  He will spend himself.  He’ll gladly pay that redemption price.

And so a Godly man will resemble Christ.  

He said, ‘Who are you?’  And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant.  Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.’  And he said, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter.  You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.  And now, my daughter, do not fear.  I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.  And now it is true that I am a redeemer.  Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I.  Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it.  But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.’

From Ruth 3

Equal, Good, and Different

  
The fact that a spoon and a fork are equal in value does not mean that they are identical.  A laptop and a desktop may be equal in value but not identical.  Two different objects can be worth the same but not made for the same purposes.  

And such is the case with men and women. 

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 

From Genesis 2

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 

 From Ephesians 5

We are made.  And interwoven with all our individualities and dreams and beautiful complexities are our genders.  God made humans male and female, and in doing so, and in authoring marriage and childbearing, He did something wonderful, something that reflects His glory.  

He made man, and he was of great value to Him.  He made woman, and she was of equal value to Him.  Both precious.  But they were not identical.  Their purposes and places were not the same.  And if they tried to make them so, they would damage each other and mar the purposes of their Creator.  

Men and women are both made in the amazing image of God.  But men should not bear children and women should not fight wars.  Men should not have sex with men and women should not have sex with women.  Rebelling against the Creator always ends badly for the rebel. I can vouch for it myself, from every time I sin in anger or pride.  God is good, and to go against Him is to go against what is true and worthwhile and beautiful.  

Men and women are equal but not interchangeable.  

We have trouble seeing that in America in 2016, but that’s an us problem.  

Our design is beautiful; it’s our hearts that have malfunctioned.