The summer months are almost here, and the summer is typically a time of relaxation and ease. However, as husbands and fathers our God given task should not cease. In fact, the summer is a prime opportunity to take initiative to lead our families. In my new book Manhood Restored I examine several aspects of leadership in the home that are vital. Let’s look at them here.
Ministry of Presence
It is almost embarrassing that such a practical point must be mentioned, but men must be at home. Men must be present. When children grow up, they remember certain details about their upbringing. Many times those things are major details, like vacations and big-time punishments. But one thing children never forget is if their father was present in their lives and what that presence was like. When men speak of their father being absent or not around, it is an embedded memory. Presence in the home is the bedrock of being in a family.
As Psalm 127 articulates, a man is to labor in his home. This laboring includes providing, visioning, praying, instructing, and much more. None of that happens without presence—the active involvement in the life and development of the family. Our family is to be the people with whom we have deep and rich relational commonality. Jesus has restored the ability for the man not to be a passive and/or aggressive presence in the home, but one that impacts the life of one’s wife and children. What should the memory of a father and husband be like for his family? This is the sort of burning question men should think through each day in the home.
Ministry of Spiritual Formation
Planning for the spiritual growth of one’s wife and children cannot be overstated. We must be able to biblically work through God’s vision for them. As it pertains to the children, we must seek to root them in the gospel as much as it depends on us by saturating them with a biblical grid. Take initiative and instruct your family in the word of God. Show them the beauty of God’s redemptive story.
Ministry of Gospel Promotion in the Home
Whether we are discipling, challenging our wife, having fun, or instructing, the principles of the gospel must permeate all. This isn’t an easy priority to have before us. Many times when I am discipling my sons, I become so agitated by their actions that I forget the gospel. I forget mercy, love, grace, and, most of all, I forget I am supposed to be helping them to understand forgiveness. Without the gospel, I am only projecting behavioral modification. Change of heart must trump mere change of behavior. Therefore, the goodness of God through the gospel must trump all other philosophies in the home. Don’t only teach them how the gospel transforms all of life, but show them how the gospel is transforming your life.
Ministry of Family Vision
The family must know where the family is going. We are not on some aimless journey of spirituality, but on our way to God. Because we are on our way to Him through Him and with Him (Titus 2:11–15; Matt. 28:20), there is divine reasoning and meaning in every day of our lives. Having biblical vision gives the house biblical grounding and purpose. Vision keeps us from running aimlessly. The culture of biblical vision running the household will give the family a great sense of gospel hope. Remember, Jesus has vision for His family. Jesus has prepared a place based on His vision for us to spend eternity with Him (John 14), has an image that we are conformed to (Rom. 8:29), and will bring it to fruition (Rev. 19–21). To follow His example means we project a similar vision for our own families.
Men, step up and be the husband and father that God has called you to be. Be intentional about being home, engaged and interested in your family. Take the task of spiritual formation and gospel promotion in the home seriously. This is the most important legacy you can leave your children, and the most formative way to love your wives. What is the vision for your family this summer? Are you setting a trajectory for family that is centered on Jesus? Where are you as a leader taking your family? Does the family identify that direction as the goal?