If you’re a parent, this post is for you. I know you really want to be the spiritual leader your children need! What a privilege and responsibility we’ve been given! Whether you share that role with your spouse, you’re going it alone as a single parent, or you have a spouse who’s an unbeliever, I pray this post will encourage you to start where you are or continue in faithful perseverance as the spiritual leader of your home.
This post was written by my daughter, Maddie, and I’m delighted to share it with you.
Earlier this year I was reminded of the crucial role that father’s play in the spiritual lives of their children and was thankful as I reflected on my own father’s pursuit of guiding my siblings and me in our spiritual lives. From a very early age, I can remember him gathering us in the living room at night to do a devotional with us and asking us how he could pray for us. Although I might not remember what all of these devotions were about, I do remember his devotion to leading us each night.
My dad has worked two jobs for as long as I can remember so that he and my mom could be obedient to their calling to homeschool us. My dad often left before I was up in the morning and returned late. This did not stop him from setting aside time to pour scripture and the truth of God’s love and faithfulness into our lives.
At the age of seven, I came to know Christ personally as my Lord and Savior. The beginning of my relationship with Christ began at home and occurred late one night. I was lying in bed listening as I heard my parents talking to my brother in the living room. I got out of the bed, walked into the living room and sat cross-legged in the floor eager to hear what they had to say. My mom shared her testimony and my dad’s testimony followed. My dad cried as he shared what God had done in his life. I was astonished. This was the first time I had ever remembered seeing my dad cry. I immediately began wondering, “Who is this man that would make my dad cry, not tears of sadness, but of joy”. I could see that this was something that had affected him deeply. Now, up to this point I had been to church every week of my life. I had heard the Gospel several times. I had heard my Sunday school teachers and pastors talk about Jesus and who He was and what He had done for me. I knew the stories but what truly hit home for me was the personal impact that I saw that Jesus had in the life of my dad. It was a tender moment and it is one that I will never forget.
More Than Taking them to Church
Dads, I know that you are busy and you are being pulled millions of different ways. I want to commend you for making sure that your children are in church. It is so important that they are being surrounded by truth on a weekly basis and it is definitely crucial to the spiritual well-being of your child. However, I do urge you not to allow church attendance to replace the role that you play as the spiritual leader of your home because the truth is that it can’t.
Church attendance was never meant to replace the father’s role as spiritual leader of the home.
The church is an amazing piece of the puzzle but it cannot have the same impact that you can on a daily basis. Your children need to see what the Christian life looks like lived out whether your day is good or bad. They need to see you treating and loving your wife as Christ loves the church. They need to see you actively studying the Word and pursuing a deeper relationship with God.
A Firm Foundation
You may make it to all their games, take them on amazing vacations, buy them the best car, and pay for their education at the school of their dreams, but when life hits them hard and everything they know is ripped out from under them, what foundation will they have to stand on? Who or what will they turn to? You hope that it will be Christ, but are they seeing you do the same?
It may seem like a major amount of effort, and to be honest, it is, but don’t overthink it. Being the spiritual leader your children need can be as simple as changing a few things in your daily routine. Shut off the tv at night and spend time talking with your kids about Christ. Read a five-minute devotion with them and pray with them before bed. Send them encouraging texts with scripture and remind them that you love them and that you are praying for them.
Lead your children and continue to lead them even after they leave your home. I am living in New Orleans and going to school and my dad calls and/or texts me every day to check on me. He has not quit just because I am living seven hours away.
You will never regret any effort you make in cultivating the relationship your kids have with the Lord. Being the spiritual leader of your home and showing them Jesus is the most valuable gift they will ever possess. Don’t look at it as a task to complete, but as a gift, you are given and can give away.
Thank you, Maddie, for sharing your heart with us. What a powerful testimony to the faithfulness of God and the powerful role father’s play in the lives of their children!
How to Be the Spiritual Leader Your Children Need
Three suggestions I’d like to make for mothers and fathers:
- Tell your children what Jesus did for you. Do they know how and when you were saved? Tell them the story!
- Live as if Jesus is your Savior. Do your children know that Christ is your firm foundation or would they say it’s something else (work, money, success)?
- Receive the forgiveness Christ offers you each day. We’re not perfect people or perfect parents and our children know that better than anyone. Don’t let your mistakes keep you from being the spiritual leader. Be willing to admit your mistakes and confess to them when necessary and appropriate. Then claim the forgiveness and freedom you have in Christ. Your kids need to see what it looks like to live in the freedom of Christ.
“It is for freedom Christ set us free.” Galatians 5:1