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.  


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.  

A Father Story

A man had a son, whom he loved and raised. Everything a dad should be to a boy, this man was. He taught him right from wrong, he provided for his needs, and he always had the boy’s best interests at heart. But through no fault of this father’s, as the boy became a teenager the outworkings of his heart became worse and worse. He spoke insults to his father, was constantly violent at school, and lied to and stole from friends, neighbors, and family.

The boy didn’t care about the long, long hours his father worked to provide for him. It meant nothing to him that his dad treasured him and thought about him often during the day and wanted only good things for him. He was thoroughly self-absorbed, and he wanted nothing but an easy life of pleasure for himself.

At about the age of 18, the boy was able to put together a scheme to steal all the money from his father’s savings account. He was a lech, but he was cunning. So he cleaned the account of his dad’s life’s savings, several hundred thousand dollars the good old man had planned to leave to the boy and his extended family and the church someday. The son laughed with a buddy as he bought a new car he planned to drive to the coast, never looking back.

The father was shattered when he discovered what his son had done, not because of the money he’d lost, but the boy. He was forced to sell his house and buy a much smaller condo, but he continued to work and be the man he’d always been, though always while looking for his son. Hours spent on calling known friends, searching his name on the internet, and sending pleading messages to the boy’s e-mail. There was never any answer, never any response, until 5 years later, when the father got a letter.

It was a message from one of his son’s friends. The boy had pulled off another online theft, stealing $100,000 from a financial group in the town where he’d settled. The group was suing him, and the boy was facing a felony and decades in jail since he couldn’t make restitution. His friend felt obliged to let the father know, but sadly he told the old man that the son had not changed and that he showed no remorse.

It was three weeks later when this father came into a court appearance, his son shocked when he saw his face. The old man offered the judge and the plaintiffs $100,000 in full, and asked if the charges might be dismissed and the boy released to him. The parties agreed, but the judge asked him where the money had come from, and when the man explained that he had sold his condo and then come as quickly as he could, the judge, knowing what kind of young man this was, asked why.

The father was unashamed in his answer: “Because I’m his Dad. And he’s my son. I know he doesn’t deserve it. I know it better than anybody. I’m not paying because he does. I’m paying because he is mine, and I love him.”

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:1-9

Praise be to God for not sparing the Son in saving wretches and thieves like me.

30 Seconds for Father’s Day

My Heavenly Father, the One who sent His Son Jesus to save selfish people like me, is slow to anger and abounding in rock-steady love.  He always tells the truth.  He forgives the wrongs done against Him.  He gives profoundly beautiful gifts, chief among them His Holy Spirit.  He disciplines me in order to make me the kind of man I’d want to be if I had a heart as good as His.  

Gracious, honest, forgiving, generous, and ready to discipline.  That is my Abba Father.  

And so I have a template for what to be for my three little ones.  

Happy Father’s Day, guys.  


The word has meaning because a Father made the world.  My prayer, as I sit outside my house just about ready to go in and give the kids lunch, is that I can, more and more, have the posture towards my children that He has towards His. 

Way Down Deep

One of the things my wife has illustrated for me is that mere talk about love isn’t love. If I FaceBook about how people need to be more loving but spend all my time and money and energy on myself, I’m not really a loving man.  I’m a talking man.  

Better to be both. 

And so one of the greatest blessings of my life is that the woman God gave me is a living example of fuller, more layered love.  The sort of love our Savior modeled.  Love that costs you things.  Sleep, free time, hobbies:  When you love well, it all gets put on the table for the good of another.  Prayers and thoughts and affections are spent on the souls of the ones you’re loving. 

Love is measured in personal sacrifice.  

But motherhood isn’t mere martyrdom.  Something I’ve never though to articulate until now is that Christlike motherhood both costs a woman herself and restores to her herself.  My wife has given of her hours, her energy, her heart, and her mind for several years to our three children, but rather than the well of her self being drained, it has actually been dug deeper.  It’s tapped larger springs.  My wife is more herself after 5 years of Christlike motherly sacrifice, not less.  

Our Savior doesn’t just kill our flesh, He brings it back to life. He doesn’t just rescue us, He re-makes us.  

God-ordained callings make a Christian more Christian, but they also make her more human.  More the human she was made to be, anyway.  

Parenthood, like work and church and all of the Creator’s mandates, makes us bear out more fully the Imago Dei.  In Eden, God designed marriage and parenthood and work and the people of God, and while creation is groaning under the weight of sin and death these things are still powerfully beautiful, Godly, and human.  

God can use any number of His instruments to sanctify a soul.  His Son, His Spirit, and His Word are necessary, but beyond them He may use creation, vocation, marriage, singleness, Christian brothers and sisters, education.  But in our lives, I’ve seen parenthood profoundly widen our hearts.  And for me, watching a woman who loves Jesus more than her family and so who is then able to come back to them with a full and generous heart, has helped me love others better.  It’s helped me live life better.  Her Christ-generated sacrifice has spurred me on towards better, more self-forgetful love.  And together, as we slowly (too slowly) become more like our Jesus, we both become more like the selves we were created by Him to be.  

I’m grateful on Mother’s Day for a Christian wife who loves her children and adores her Savior.  

And each day the well is dug deeper, our family is blessed by what God brings out.

A Sister, Her Loneliness, and Her Treasure

“They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”  

Mary Magdalene had had seven demons cast out of her. She’d been smiled upon by God, this little woman of hopelessness and sin. Mary had been found. Recovered. And while maybe the Pharisees would sneer at the uneducated carpenter’s son and his lowlife Galilean followers, she adored her Jesus. She obeyed her Jesus. She had no one but her Jesus. She believed He was her only hope, and Israel’s, too. This was the Son of David. The Messiah.  

And then two days ago something happened.  

Mary had watched Him mocked, stripped, and executed. Everyone had spat and jeered and laughed as He hung up in the air and died in front of His mother and a snarling throng of people who hated Him. It had been a spectacle. And now, her Jesus was gone. So she stood outside the tomb that a nice man had bought for His body. Her soul’s hope was fractured, busted all out of joint. The King who’d redeemed her, the Holy One of God she was sure would make the world better, and make her better right along with it, had been humiliated and killed. Her only friend and Lord was now a murdered man.

She had come to anoint the body, because that’s the sort of thing you do when you love somebody from way down in the deep places. But the body wasn’t there. And when they’d seen it was stolen, Peter and John, the men, had run.  

Here’s a thought I think I’ve shared with Mary Magdalene, the sister I haven’t met yet: I’m standing here alone, frustrated, terribly frightened, confused. I have no idea where to go or whom to turn to. Why am I deserted? Why can’t I figure this out? Why am I left here hollow, sad, and ignorant? Why is it so quiet, and why am I alone?

Maybe they stole His body because they were going to deface it and mock it the way the Gibeonites had once done to the dead sons of Saul. Maybe they were just wicked and stupid and cruel, and had thrown Him into an open grave. Scoffers who didn’t understand Him. Who didn’t treasure what she treasured.  

Not even a body to anoint and say goodbye to. And now where could she go? Who would have her? The only Shepherd who’d ever wanted her had been struck down. The religious leaders certainly wouldn’t take her. 

 Maybe the demons wouldn’t even want her, now.  

Alone in a graveyard. Not even Peter and John had stayed.  

But one of the most beautiful sentences of the Bible is coming.  

Mary was alone, like she had been before Jesus. So she wept, because that was all she could do, since there was nothing to anoint. Nothing left but to let sadness be sadness.  

Well, that and to look.  

“She stopped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.'”

My Lord. See, when you’ve been reborn, when your heart’s been cracked open like Mary’s had, you only have one Lord. There’s no one and nothing else for you in this world. Wherever He is, you’ll go. Mary had only one person to turn to.  

And so she turned to Him.  

“When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there.”

She saw Jesus standing there.  

Be with Mary there, by that tomb, for just a minute. Feel the joy she must have had thrumming in her chest once she realized it was Him, her Jesus and her treasure, a few seconds later. Once she realized that the only One who’d ever been able to save her was alive, forever alive. That no one could kill Jesus, though many try. Stand with Mary there for a minute, and look to the same One she did.  

I’ll make you a promise, and I’m not big on making promises. No one will ever stop Jesus. Those demons never get to grip Mary’s mind again, because once the Christ has found you, you have been truly found. Once the Messiah’s freed you, you are free indeed. They can nail Him to a Cross, but they can’t keep Him there; and they can’t unrescue Mary Magdalene. She will be presented to the Father by her Jesus. Because the treasuring thing works both ways, you see. Mary treasured Jesus. And for entirely different reasons and in an infinitely deeper way, Jesus treasured Mary.  

My promise: No one will ever stop Mary’s Jesus. My Jesus. He will do all He set out to do. He will recover all He set out to recover.

No one can stop Mary’s Jesus.   

So turn around. He’s there.  

For Troubled Hearts


We worship a God of peace. A God who is never troubled, never worried, never unsure of what will happen. I may tremble, worry about my inabilities or weaknesses, or wrestle with the effects of my sin. But not Him. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly pure. When I freak out because I’m not sure how to pay for something or whether someone has a serious health problem, He is standing guard over me and all of His other children, providing only what is for their ultimate good and molding them to be more like His Son. When I have to humble myself, confess my sin, and turn from it, He proves Himself to be the God of perfect grace and mercy, and then continues to give me strength to overcome the world.

In my weakness, His strength is magnified. In my uncertainty, His faithfulness stands firmer than ever.

When my life feels tumultuous or tenuous or tragic, I can know in the marrow of my bones that He is as good as He is sovereign, and put my mind on that instead of my troubles.

We worship a God of peace. He will someday destroy all the conflict, pain, and anxiety that result from the horror of sin. And He will watch over His children until that day comes.

“May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.”

From 2 Thessalonians 3

They All Obey Something


Our children are always obeying something. They are either obeying their parents and God in tandem, as God has commanded and says He will bless, or they are obeying their friends, the lusts and desires of their own hearts, television, the internet, or some other influence they value more than their parents and their parents’ God.

Every human being is a slave to something, and every human child is learning his or her slavery, is feeling it out. Each of us will either submit to Jesus and be His slave, which is to be free from death and sin, or be a slave of the Devil and his own lust and wickedness. Each of us will submit his heart to the worship of something. Our kids are the same, but smaller and without much knowledge or experience.

Ephesians 6 tells children to “obey your parents, for this is good.” So it is good for children to obey and honor the father and the mother He has given them. Jesus confirms the same in Mark 7. God considers obedience to His ordained authorities good. And He considers obedience to wicked things bad. And so for a child to obey his parents (excepting a child being instructed to sin or being abused in sin or something similar) is for him or her to do childhood the way God desires it to be done. It is Godly and healthy and good.

And for him or her to instead follow and obey and submit the bulk of his or her heart and will to pop culture, friends, or even decent secondary authority figures like teachers or coaches, is to do childhood in a flawed way. It is not good.

So what does your child’s clothing say about who he obeys?

His language?

Her friends? The things they talk about? Where they talk?

What he spends most of his weekends on?

Do our kids look like children who are obeying us as we obey the Lord?

Take one evening and watch your kids. Whose words are they using? Who or what governs their attitudes? Who or what is in control of how they respond to their grandparents, their teachers, their uncles, and aunts? Who or what has control of their hearts and wills and mouths? Is it their little buddies, the wider culture, their favorite singer, their own lusts and sinful desires, or God through you?

We cannot cause our children to love God. Only He can do that. Only God through His Spirit can cause someone to be born again. But we are told to have our children in submission for a reason: Because it is possible and it is good. It is good for them, good for the family, good for the church, and good for the community for children to obey their parents. And it blesses the children themselves by, generally speaking, forming them into the kinds of people whom God has designed the world to bless. People generally want to be around people who obey authority and are not spoiled, entitled, disruptive, or rude. And people generally want to hire or promote or marry or be friends with conscientious, self-aware, empathic individuals.

We cannot save our children. But thankfully we are not called to. We are called to do that which we can, and that is to place them in the way of blessing. We can help them to understand who God is and what it is like to obey Him, we can help them to see what He desires and what He blesses, by teaching and demanding the obedience that He calls good.

They will obey something.

And of course so will we.