Spiritual Leadership

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

-Ephesians 6:4

With Father’s Day fast approaching, I want to take a minute to discuss the importance dads play in the family structure. Society today seems to minimize the role of men in the family, but a Godly spiritual leader in the home is irreplaceable. It seems appropriate to share about the man who raised me and the legacy he is leaving behind. I am not always good about expressing my true feelings, but his example is something this world needs more of.

I grew up in a pretty standard all-American home. Two parents, of which my mom stayed home with us most of my childhood while my dad worked seven days a week to keep us afloat. My upbringing wasn’t something I reflected on all that often. It just was what it was. Only now with two children do I see how remarkable my dad’s role in our family was.

My dad did the pretty typical stuff like teach us sports; help coach little league; and take us on bike rides and nature walks. He was known among my friends for his sternness, in fact earning the nickname “The Fun-Nazi” because we had strict rules and seemingly early curfews.

But, reflecting back do you want to know something that really stands out to me? He was and remains a man of the Bible. Nightly, after dinner my dad would sprawl out on the floor with his Bible in front of him, often with a concordance next to that. Each year he read the Bible as a whole. I never understood his devotion. I often gave up on the quest to read the whole Bible by the time I reached Numbers.

In addition to his daily study, he was and still is a man who practiced what he read. I can remember being at people’s homes studying the Bible with them. I remember the people baptized. I remember going to people’s homes to give them food or whatever else they needed. The idea of working seven days a week exhausts me, but he never let it stop him from doing God’s work.

Sometimes I resented his influence in my life. I wanted the rules my friends had. I didn’t want to be picked up early from basketball practice on Wednesday so we could make it to church. I wanted to be one of my peers and not stand out as overtly religious.

Now, I have two children. Now I understand on a level I never knew existed. There is nothing more important to me that the salvation of Turkey-Man and Little-Flower. I appreciate the devotion to being the spiritual leader of our family that my dad had.

Accepting God’s intention for the father to be the spiritual leader in the family is no small task. Ephesians 5 lays out the design God purposed families to be. The man is to be the head of the wife (and by extention, the children as well). Too frequently, our society stops there, offended, demanding woman’s liberation and never reads further. A few verses later though it lays out how the man is to be the head- with the same love that Christ has for the church and the same love that the man has for his very own body. A man’s place in the family is rooted in deep love. It is with this deep love that a man is propelled to teach and live out a Christly example for his family.

I watch my husband nowadays with two little ones under his leadership. Each morning, he starts the day off studying. Each evening he looks for fun ways to incorporate Bible stories into the children’s bedtime routine. There are times after the kids are in bed that he returns to study the Bible further. My husband was raised in a Christian home, but a deep, daily study of the Bible was not a regular occurrence. He sees the example my dad has set and attempts to emulate it.

Now that I am a mom, I look to all that my dad did for our family and admire him for it. I see the importance of regular study. I know the impact it had on me to go with him to help the poor. I admire his success in raising four Godly children. I am so grateful for the example he has set for my husband. His legacy has extended far beyond just the impact he has had on us kids. We now all have children and the influence he has had on us trickles down to how we are raising our children which will hopefully carry on to their children as well.

Was my dad perfect? Certainly not. He was very young when I was born and he is simply human, but one thing I definitely can cite as something he did a tremendous job at was being the spiritual leader of our family.

Thank you dad! I am proud to call you my father and am grateful for the example you have provided for us to follow. You have been a wonderful leader of our family. Our society would be a better place with more men like you raising the next generation. Happy Father’s Day!

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