Last time I wrote about Godly discipline of children. I discussed how discipline was primarily training a child and how punishment may be part of this, but it is not the core of discipline (Proverbs 22:6).  This week I want to discuss another aspect of how we train up a child, especially as they get older. This blog will introduce the idea of leadership within the family.

So what is leadership? As a basic definition I would say leadership is the ability of an individual to influence or guide other individuals or groups of people. In the Bible, there are a multitude of scriptures that give us examples of good leadership. Here are two that get us started on what biblical leadership is.

The first one is Psalm 78:72, “With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.” The second one is Matthew 20:26–28, “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The biblical practice of leadership is not just about guiding people.  It is about taking care of them and loving them.  So a biblical definition of leadership in the family would be “someone who serves the family by guiding them towards God with true love and care.”  So now that we have a working definition of leadership, why is it important in a family, when disciplining children?

In my experience, the course of a child and the quality of his behavior is always correlated with the degree that the parent truly cared about how the child turned out and the example that the parent set for that child.  So how do we go about being good leaders in our families?  A model that I was taught by my dad and seems to apply well here is the military’s old leadership development model of Be-Know-Do.

You must first identify and accept what you are. Within a family structure everyone has a God-given role. After accepting that this is what you are, then you have to identify the internal characteristics that this role requires and cultivate them.

This is about competency, or your skills. For me this boils down to two skills.  First, study and know the word of God and how to apply it to your life.  Second, know how to pray, and do it. Pray as part of your relationship with God, and also unashamedly pray for and with the people around you, especially your family.

In 2 Timothy 2:15 it says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 it says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

This is about putting action to the internal characteristic as well as the knowledge and wisdom. The question I ask myself here is, “What mission does God have for my family specifically?”  I don’t mean the generic idea of “love God and do His will.”  I mean real, practical, and planned. So something like, God wants my family to spread His word to the people around us.  So I’m going to have everyone in the family mentally track everyone they spread God’s word to this week.  At the end of the week, we are going to sit down and discuss how this went. If we don’t develop a personal plan of what God has given us as a mission, then it is likely that we will just do the minimal to just get by or nothing at all.

Leadership within the family is a broad topic, and I have just scratched the surface. In my next blog, I will talk more in depth about how to live the Be-Know-Do of leadership in the family as well as the kingdom.  As always if there is anything we at Sanctuary Family Farms can do to help support you or your family in Christ, please let us know.

— Written by Jeremiah, a PhD psychologist