In my little section of the Appalachian Mountains, I have and continue to experience what happens when men do not follow God’s commandments. In our neighborhood, my family is the only one with both biological parents in the home. We eat dinner together around the table. Our neighbors witness us playing in the yard with our children. When it rains, you can find us inside playing a board game.
All of this is because my husband is the spiritual leader of our home. What does that mean? Why must the spiritual leader be the man? How can I encourage my husband to be the spiritual leader of our home?
What Is the Biblical Definition of a Spiritual Leader?
The term spiritual leader is thrown around in evangelical Christian circles. During the premarital counseling sessions, my husband and I took part in, we heard this term and discussed what it meant.
Scripture tells us that being a spiritual leader is to be one who possesses the spiritual gift of leadership. It is a person who can lead well because their directions come from the Holy Spirit. This person can guard and guide those they lead.
But what does this have to do with the home?
How Do We Know Men Are Spiritual Leaders in the Home?
Before we go any further in our discussion, we must understand why men are given spiritual leadership in the home. Women can be spiritual leaders, but God did not desire that structure in the home.
The creation of people all started with a man. God created Adam first (Gen. 1:27). In the second chapter of Genesis, we read how God saw there was no one to tend the land. Therefore, he created man from dust and breathed life into his nostrils (Gen. 2:7). Further, in our reading of Scripture, we see God giving Adam the instruction to name the animals (Gen. 20:20). He placed Adam in the Garden of Eden and instructed him to complete tasks that leaders would do. When Eve joined him, she was to help or assist Adam in his duties. God desired for Adam to lead his wife and guard her against sin.
We know Eve ate the fruit she shouldn’t have. We also know God did not call out for Eve as He was walking through the Garden that day. He called for Adam (Gen.3:9). The man God created was supposed to lead his family and because he failed, they were banished from the Garden, and God cursed the land, animals, and people.
The spiritual leaders of the home should be the men because that was the way God created the family structure to be.
Why Do Families Need Spiritual Leaders?
“Gender equality has been a hot-button subject for decades. I mention this because when we speak of spiritual leaders in the home being a man, the question always asked is why can’t women be the spiritual leader of the home? Why do we need a spiritual leader, anyway? Can’t men and women both lead?
Families need spiritual leaders because families need leaders. Without a leader, there is no structure, and chaos becomes the norm. The marriage relationship weakens, and children are not learning what healthy relationships look like. Boys are not learning to be godly men and have respect for others. Girls are not learning what healthy expectations in a husband are or how to find their identity in Christ, not the magazines”.
The old saying is that a boy will marry a woman like his mother, and a daughter will marry a man like her father. In a family that has structure and a spiritual leader, this saying is true and good.
“Women are capable of being spiritual leaders and because of the rising divorce rates in the country, women are taking on a role God did not create them for. While I commend the women that are raising their families up, I also believe that men need to step up”.
It is imperative that families have spiritual leaders. Our families will have structure, our children will feel safe and happy, and the future of the next generation will learn to lean on God.
What Are the Qualities of a Spiritual Leader?
Recently my husband and I were talking about how men are always told to pastor their families but are never told how. This made me think about what qualities a spiritual leader has and how they can execute a plan for good spiritual health in their homes.
1. Have a strong relationship with God. Being a spiritual leader is all about following the commands and will of God. If your relationship is weak, then you may not hear the instructions. Men can do this by praying, reading their Bibles, and being involved in their local church.
2. Have integrity. A man that has integrity is a man that is respected. Your family will listen and heed your advice. A husband with integrity will have high moral principles. They will be honest and forthcoming with their wives and children.
3. Be proactive. Being proactive means you anticipate what is coming next. As a spiritual leader in your home, you are going to think about the consequences of an action. You are always going to be looking ahead. A proactive husband and father will have plans to prevent future problems. They are always assessing how their family is functioning and willing to change things if needed.
4. Always be ready to guard and defend your family. In Ephesians 5:25-33, Paul speaks of the way husbands should love their wives. He states husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. He goes on to say that husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies.
These verses instruct husbands and fathers to be ready to guard your family. Christ took on the sins of the world to give us a way to guard our hearts against sin. Paul tells us to put on the armor of God that will guard us against the devil’s schemes. Putting on the armor may include you saying no to certain requests or asking if we really should watch that movie or TV show.
5. Balance your commitments. This is probably the toughest requirement of a spiritual leader. Personally, my husband is a pastor, and he does not balance commitments very well. To combat this, we have occasional calendar meetings.
When you don’t balance commitments, your family could feel like they don’t matter. If you need a calendar, get one. If you need a daily list, make one. In the age of smartphones, use your Google calendar. You will need to make time because time doesn’t make itself.
6. Display sacrificial love for your family. God sacrificed his one and only son so that we could have life. If God did that for us, why shouldn’t we sacrifice for our families? I am not saying that husbands should be crucified. I am saying that times and events will come up, and you need to say no to them. You must be willing to sacrifice your desires for your family’s desires sometimes.
Help for Spiritual Leaders in the Home
I have told you all these ways to be a spiritual leader in your home, but I know well that not all men have these characteristics. That is okay! Becoming a spiritual leader in your home can take time. Don’t worry that you will never reach leadership status.
“Becoming a leader means you have to be a servant first. Take the time to develop a servant’s heart. Read accounts of great spiritual leaders in the Bible. Pray with your family and take part in family devotions. Speak with your mentor or pastor”.
Fathers can look to Noah, Moses, Joseph, and God himself to learn more about being a spiritual leader. Noah protected his family, and Moses guided the children of Israel. Joseph accepted God’s will and married Mary, even though she was pregnant. Ultimately, God the Father gave his Son for us.
“Spiritual leaders need grace and encouragement. Wives can encourage their husbands with kind words and gentle suggestions. Most importantly, wives need to pray for their husbands. Ask God to lead your family and give your husband the skills he needs to be the spiritual leader”.
Men are to be the spiritual leaders of their home because God designed it that way. He created an order and desires that we keep that order today. Our children need to know how to live a life for Christ in a society that lives for the world. We need men to rise up and be the leader God wants them to be.
God’s desire is for us to have a life filled with joy and abundance. If we follow his example, we will have just that.
Ashley Hooker is a freelance writer who spends her time homeschooling her two children, ministering alongside her husband as he pastors a rural church in West Virginia, and writing about her faith. Currently, she is a contributing author for Journey Christian magazine. She has taken part in mission trips with the NC Baptist Men during the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey in Mississippi and Texas. In her local church, she has served on various committees focusing in the area of evangelism along with traveling to West Virginia and Vermont to share the Gospel. Her dream is to spend her time writing and sharing the love of Christ with all she meets.