In his book, ďThe 21 Irrefutable Laws of LeadershipĒ John
Maxwell tells the story of two leaders and their teams. In 1911,
two teams set off to be the first to reach the South Pole.
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and British naval officer Robert
Falcon Scott both led their teams on these incredible missions.
Amundsen was a great leader and explorer. Before setting off, he
studied the ways of the Eskimos and other experienced arctic
travelers. He decided to take dogsleds. He chose expert skiers and
dog handlers to be part of his team. He stocked easily found
depots along the route to make sure they didnít have to carry
all their supplies on their backs. Their trip was highly
successful. They were the first to make it to the South Pole by
more than a month and the worst problem they experienced was an
infected tooth that had to be extracted from one of the team
Scott, on the other hand, was definitely the inferior
leader. Not having studied what was needed, he decided to use
motorized sledges and ponies. Five days into the trip, the sledges
stopped working. The ponies could not handle the frigid
temperatures and had to be killed when they reached the
Transantarctic Mountains. Scott had chosen poor clothes, causing
most of his team to suffer from chronic frostbite. The goggles
were poor causing his team to become snow blind. He did not stock
his depots well so they were always low on food and water. Plus,
he decided at the last minute to add a fifth team member, though
they had only prepared for four. When they finally arrived at the
South Pole, they discovered the Norwegian flag. But Scottís poor
leadership didnít end there. He decided his men should collect
and carry another 30 pounds of geologic specimen, extra weight to
be carried by already weakened and sick men. Their progress became
slower and slower. One man simply sank into a stupor and died.
Another man, believing he had become a hindrance and a danger to
the remaining teammates walked out of the camp and into the
blizzard to die. Finally, the remaining three, having traveled 10
weeks to the South Pole and two months back home were still 150
miles from their base camp. They stopped there and died. We know
their story because they spent their last hours writing in their
diaries, which were discovered later.
What made the difference between a toothache and 5 deaths?
Leadership. Leadership made all the difference. Leadership makes
the difference in countries. Leadership makes the difference in
companies. Leadership makes the difference in churches. And
leadership makes the difference in our homes. Every one of us is
concerned about our homes and our families. The difference in the
family will not be made by the jobs you hold, the houses in which
you live, the schooling of your children. The difference will be
made in leadership. What will that look like in the godly home?
Who is the leader?
If I were to put out a questionnaire asking who is the
leader in the home, I am guessing the almost universal answer
would beóthe husband or the father. After all, we know that the
wife is told to submit to the husband in Ephesians
5:22. He must be the leader. This is, perhaps, one of the
biggest mistakes we make regarding leadership in the home. Now
donít get me wrong, the husband and father should exercise
leadership. In that sense, he is a leader in the home. But if he
is the leader of the home, your home is going the wrong way. According
14:12; 16:25, ďThere is a way that seems right to a man
but its end is the way to death.Ē If we men continue to think we
are the leaders of our
homes, we are leading our families to death.
If we want life for our families, then God must be the
127:1 says unless our house is built by the Lord,
everything we do to build it is done in vain. We may burn the
candle at both ends. We may provide all the things we never got.
We may put them in the best schools, provide them the best tutors,
get them into the best professions, pay for the nicest homes,
cars, and clothes. We may work and work and work, but if we are
leading the home instead of letting God lead our homes, everything
we are doing is in vain. Paul even pointed out Godís leadership
Corinthians 11:3. Yes, the husband is head of the wife,
but Jesus is the head of man and God is the head of Jesus.
We must not miss how important this is. Many a husband and
father have thought that they were the
leaders of their homes. They used that as a whip to beat wives and
children into submission to their dreams and goals. They saw the
rest of the family as tools to accomplish their mission and their
ends. Not so. God is our leader and everything we do in our
interim leadership role must be in submission to Him. Who is the
leader of the home? God.
Where is He leading us?
No doubt, God is leading us to heaven. According to I
Peter 1:3-5, we know there is an inheritance reserved for
us in heaven. God is leading us to that inheritance. However, I
believe there is more to Godís leadership than simply leading us
to our eternal inheritance and reward.
The means by which we attain that eternal goal is
established in Philippians
3:7-11. God is leading us to have a relationship with
Jesus. He wants us to get to know Jesus above all other things.
Remember Mary and Martha in Luke
10:38-42? Maryís great choice was spending time knowing
However, this relationship with Jesus is for a purpose.
Look again at Philippians
3:7-11. The purpose for getting to know Jesus is that we
might have the righteousness that comes from faith in Jesus.
Isnít that what we are hungering and thirsting for? We should be
according to Matthew
We need to understand that God has not saved us simply to
save us. He has saved us to bring us to righteousness that we
might be zealous for good works (Titus
2:11-14). God is not simply leading us to our own
salvation. He is leading us to be a force of righteousness and
good even in this world. Paul made the same point in Ephesians
2:10. God has created us to walk in His good works.
Finally, all of this leadership is intended to accomplish
Godís great purpose: His glory. Ephesians
1:6, 12, 14 demonstrate Godís great goal in His
leadership of us. He has redeemed us, forgiven us, predestined us
in Christ in order that we might be to the praise of His glory.
That is the ultimate goal toward which we must journey. That is
our destination. While walking on our own, we have fallen short of
Godís glory (Romans
3:23), we have caused shame to be brought on Godís name,
but God is leading us to be a praise to His glory, just as I
Peter 2:9 demonstrates.
Three keys to follow Godís lead.
ďYour word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my
path,Ē says Psalm
119:105. If we walk our own path, weíll end in death.
But Godís word can lead our families and us to life. Spend time
in the word, not because youíre a Christian and thatís what
you have to do. Do it because Godís word is the lamp that leads
us on the way to life. Godís way works.
Spend time in Godís word individually. Spend time in
Godís word together as a family. Spend time in Godís word with
other families. Consider what Jesus said in Matthew
7:24-27. If you build your family on the foundation of
Godís word, when the storms come, youíll overcome. If you
build your family on some other foundation, the storms will crush
says to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in every
circumstance. Make this a family practice. Make it the anchor for
each person in the family and make it the anchor for the family
teaches us to cast our cares on God because He cares for us. He
cares for your family. He cares for your spouse. He cares for your
children. He cares for your parents. He cares for you. He wonít
turn you away. He wants you to bring to Him what is troubling you
about your family, your life, your work, everything.
Once again, donít do this because it is your Christian
duty or daily homework. If prayer becomes merely a daily checklist
item, it wonít help you follow Godís lead. Ephesians
6:10-18 explains why we need to pray in our homes. We are
fighting against powerful enemies that we canít beat. Satan is
on the hunt. He is hunting for you, for your spouse, for your
kids, for your parents. The big problem is you canít beat him.
He is too strong for you. Only God can beat him. That is why we
must pray. Prayer is the means by which we connect to the only
power that can beat our enemy.
11:8, we witness Abrahamís faith. He followed Godís
lead even when He did not know where he was being led. We need to
do the same. We need to learn to trust God completely, doing
things His way.
says that God will work everything out for our good if we love
Him. To me, this means that my job is to love God. His job is to
take care of the outcomes. Too often, I want to perform His job. I
want to manipulate and control the outcomes. I want to know that
things are going to work out in a certain way and then push them
that direction. However, once again weíll remember that the way
that seems right to man leads to death. My job today is to love
God. Practically speaking, my job is simply to do what God wants
me to. His job is to make everything work out for good in the end.
My job is to do the next right thing. His job is to deal with the
outcomes. When I find myself saying things like, ďI know God
says Iím supposed to talk to someone Iím mad at, but that
would just cause problems in this situation,Ē then Iím not
trusting God. Iím trying to manipulate the outcome to where I
want it. I have to read this verse over and over again to remind
me that our job is to do the next right thing, Godís job is to
handle the outcomes. We need to trust Him that He knows what He is
doing with the outcomes. As Matthew
7:9-11 demonstrates, God will give us good gifts and work
things out for our good. We may not be able to see how that will
happen right now, but we can trust God that it will.
Leading under Godís guidance
It is true that God is the
leader of our homes. However, as we live out our lives sometimes
we must assume the role of leadership within the home. Sometimes
this may be the husband leading the wife, the parents leading the
children, older siblings leading younger ones. Sometimes it may be
that those who ought to take up the leadership mantle refuse and
others must lead in the home. I want to share six principles that
show godly leadership in the home no matter what role of
leadership you are filling.
When God spoke to husbands, He commanded us to love our
5:25). That love is transmitted by nourishing and
cherishing our wives (Ephesians
5:28-29). Love is the heart of godly leadership. I
Timothy 1:5 explains that the goal of all our instruction
is love. If our leadership is not anchored in love, then we
arenít really leading, we are manipulating.
defines love for us. We need to work on doing more than just
saying, ďI love you,Ē though we need to say it loud and often.
We need to demonstrate it by being kind to our family, being
patient with our family, not boasting or being arrogant, etc. Can
you say these things about your relationship with your family?
5:25, God explained how far we must take our love if we
would lead in submission to Him. He told husbands to be like Jesus
in the home, sacrificing themselves for their wives. Sadly, too
often leadership is seen as directing others to sacrifice for us.
Jesus turns that idea on its head in His school of leadership. He
didnít lead us to sacrifice for Him. He sacrificed Himself for
22:24-27, Jesus explained that leadership in His kingdom
means serving. If we would be great in His kingdom, we must become
small in our own eyes. If our leadership is directing others to be
our servants, we arenít leading Godís way. We should lead with
Envision the goal
5:27, we see an integral part of Jesusí leadership.
Jesus didnít simply sacrifice Himself for us willy-nilly. He
didnít just act and react. He had a plan. He had a goal. He was
working toward the goal of presenting the church without spot,
wrinkle, or any such thing, that the church might be holy and
without blemish. He saw His goal and was willing to sacrifice
Himself to get us there.
We need to see the same goal. Jesus did whatever it took to
help us be sanctified and walking His path to heaven. If we are
not focused on helping our family achieve that goal, we may get a
great deal done, but in the end it wonít matter one bit. Again,
remember Mary and Martha. Martha was doing good stuff, but Jesus
said only Maryís choice would not be taken away from her (Luke
10:42). Marthaís would be taken away. God may use us to
do a great many things as we walk His path, leading our family to
a relationship with Jesus, but if we put any of those other things
before a relationship with Jesus, they will all be taken away.
Merit scholarships are great, but if our kids donít know
Jesus, what good are they? Nice houses are nice, but if our
spouses donít know Jesus, what good are they? Big paychecks are
exciting, but if our families donít know Jesus, what good are
they? When we stand before God in judgment, He wonít ask us if
we made straight Aís, which side of the tracks we lived on, or
what was our bottom line. Heíll ask us to see if Jesus is our
friend. Keep your eyes on that goal with your family.
Empower, donít control
Have you ever noticed how Jesus led the apostles? He never
once made them do anything. He didnít force them to follow Him.
He didnít make them teach His will. He didnít coerce them to
perform miracles. Instead, He empowered them to accomplish what He
wanted and taught them how to do it. Luke
9:1-6 demonstrates this.
Sadly, when I want to lead, I often want to control. I want
my wife and kids to do what I want, the way I want them to do it,
without any room for judgment or initiative. I micromanage their
actions, calling into question every little detail, disciplining
every little variance. They are not allowed to feel what I donít
want them to feel. They are not allowed to question. They are not
allowed even volunteer. I claim leadership and authority and press
them into service my way.
God hasnít done that to us. Certainly, He has a way and
if we would be saved, we must live Godís way. But God doesnít
force and control us. He empowers us as Jesus did with the
apostles. Leadership in the home should do the same. Instead of
the manipulative control of our spouse and children, forcing them
to look as we want them to look to gain the approval of the world
around us, we need to point the way to the goal and help empower
our family to go that direction. That means helping them learn
their strengths. Helping them see their worth. Demonstrating to
them their usefulness in Godís kingdom and providing them with
instruction, guidance, and opportunities to be part of Godís
One of the biggest downfalls most leaders make is thinking
they donít need help, that they know all the answers. Donít
make that mistake in your home. Develop relationships with other
Christians who can provide you with good counsel and advice. Proverbs
15:22 says, ďWithout counsel plans fail, but with many
advisers they succeed.Ē The home is no different.
Get counsel from your shepherds. Get counsel from older
Christians. Get counsel from Christians who have families that
look the way you want yours to. Go beyond just getting counsel
yourself, let your family develop relationships with these
counselors. Let them have spiritual parents and siblings, let them
have a spiritual community with which they can grow and develop.
Donít ever think you can lead all on your own.
provides the last guideline for us. Godís ultimate picture of a
leader is not a dictator, it is not a king, it is not a ruler.
Godís ultimate picture of a leader is the shepherd. If we would
be leaders in our home (or anywhere for that matter) we need to
follow the shepherding model.
Shepherds spend time with their sheep, leading them to rest
and renewal. Shepherds protect their sheep. Shepherds feed their
sheep. Shepherds do correct and discipline the sheep, but for the
sheepís good, not to assuage the shepherdís anger or
embarrassment. Shepherds give their lives in service of their
sheep. As Ezekiel
34:2-6 demonstrates, shepherds are to strengthen the weak,
heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the straying, seek
the lost. They are not to rule with force and harshness, but
through love are to take care of the sheep. In our homes, we must
not be like the rotten shepherds of Israel, but like God the good
John Maxwell says, ďEverything rises and falls on leadership.Ē The home is no exception. Whoís really leading
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ