Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, singers of songs. – Pam Brown
When asked what we do, most guys describe their work outside the home. I know I do the, since work plays a large part in our identity. But still, it’s only a part. As husbands and fathers, we don’t just work. We provide.
“Provider” is a broad idea, usually framed in financial terms. Fair enough – a Christian husband takes vows to provide for his family’s material needs, and if you’re one, then I’ll bet you’ve put a lot of effort into that. Most of us do, thankfully, because a husband who doesn’t provide for his own house is failing spectacularly, according to Paul:
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (I Timothy 5:8)
Granted, some of us can provide more than others, few of us are wealthy, company layoffs and downsizing are beyond a man’s control, and in 2016 plenty of households rely on both partner’s income. Nothing wrong with that. But provision is still a husband’s primary job description, He insures that his family is provided for, whether he does most or all of the providing himself.
Yet the provision we’re trusted to make isn’t limited to finances. We’re also called to provide for our wife’s emotional and sexual needs (see I Peter 3:7 and I Corinthians 7:5, for example) which are two areas plenty of guys could pay more attention to.
But even more common, I believe, is the problem of Christian husbands neglecting to instigate, nurture, and provide for the spiritual life of their families. For whatever reason, it seems the idea of family devotions (reading scripture, praying, and worshipping together in the home) is foreign to plenty of us. Ditto for the idea of praying together when facing a crisis, studying the Word together when determining how to handle a particular situation, or of the husband generally encouraging both his wife and kids to keep growing in their knowledge of God and the basics of the faith.
I don’t know, nor do I want to guess, why that is. What I do know is that a husband is called to love his wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25) and that one way Jesus loves His church is by being both the “author” and “finisher” of her faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
Interesting words, “author” and “finisher.” Strong’s Concordance describes an author as “one that takes the lead in any thing and thus affords an example” and a finisher as a “perfector” who leads by example and accomplishment. In other words, the shepherding family guy initiates the spiritual tone in the home, and, through word and example, encourages active, growing faith.
Two major benefits come when he does that.
- Trust grows where spiritual life thrives
The joke about husbands and wives forever arguing about how to get from point A to B when they’re driving is no joke. It speaks to what God predicted when He told Adam and Eve that power struggles would enter their partnership because of sin (Genesis 3:16) and, truth be told, getting some wives to trust their husband’s leadership can be almost as hard as getting some husbands to lead responsibly.
But when a woman sees her husband as a man of prayer, striving to stay yielded to God, zealous for spiritual vibrancy, and growing into an ever-better disciple, it’s a lot easier for her to relax and trust.
And why not? If my pastor wasn’t a man submitted to God’s authority, I’d have a hard time submitting to his. Thankfully, I find it easy trusting my Shepherd’s leadership because His submission to His shepherd’s leadership is so evident. I hope all our wives can say the same about us.
- Being a Better Home is more Important than Finding a Better Church
The quest for a church offering the best youth program, worship team, and outreach ministries, is fine to a point. But when kids hit adulthood and leave the church and the faith as well, let’s not be too quick to assume it was because they didn’t find what they needed at the church. Too often, they didn’t find what they needed in their home.
I know we’re not accountable for the decisions our sons and daughters make. That’s on them. But if they didn’t grow up seeing prayer as a way of life, or scripture as a practical guide rather than just a poetic source of inspiration, or consistency between what their father publicly said and privately did, then should we really be surprised when they drift? Where there’s been no anchor, one can hardly
The worst of young adults can spring from the best of Christian homes, for sure. So if we raise our kids in houses where Jesus is honored, communed with, spoken of, and followed, they still have free will, which means they still have the ability to follow a prodigal path. That’s hardly our fault. But let’s be sure, if they do so, it’s not because they were raised by a Dad who forgot that “Fatherhood” and “Priesthood” have an awful lot in common.
“The Family Guy” (full discloser; I’ve never seen an episode, so I don’t know what I’m talking about) is a popular take on modern fatherhood and, from what I’ve heard, not the most flattering one. So I hope, for everyone’s sake, that the image of the father as spiritual shepherd in the home – the Shepherding Guy – eventually becomes so common that a man who sees to his family’s spiritual life, and of course his own, raises no eyebrows.