In the previous post, we saw that leadership requires action on the part of the leader. An inactive leader is no leader at all. Today we will look at the second critical aspect of leadership: attentiveness. Applied in the home, we as men (as husbands and fathers) must have an active awareness of the current status of our family and to know the needs of each family member in terms of spiritual direction.
This is a responsibility of spiritual leadership that never stops. You never really “finish” this task, because the needs of your family are always changing.
In order to lead your wife, spiritually, you must know how she most needs to be led. This is the same with each kid, because the needs of each will be different, and will change as they grow.
Your wife and each child will have weaknesses and blindspots, spiritually-speaking. Things they are particularly vulnerable to. As their spiritual leader, you will need to take the time with each of them to learn what those are, and to study / prepare / pray / etc. to know how God’s Spirit is leading you to lead and respond to their needs and weaknesses.
This attentiveness also requires effort on our part to be self-aware – to know our own weaknesses and blindspots and to be submitted to our wives and other spiritual mentors who can help us as men to be prepared to combat our own liabilities.
Another important element of attentiveness as husbands and fathers is simply paying attention to our wives and kids. Spending time with them, continually getting to know them more and deeper, continuing to cultivate a relationship with each of them through daily conversations and quality time spent together.
Actually, by committing to pay regular attention to our wives and kids over the other lesser important things that constantly demand our attention (TV, facebook, home “projects” and repairs, our individual hobbies, etc.), the responsibility for us to be attentive to their current spiritual and emotional status and needs will almost automatically be fulfilled.
And by spending quality time with each of them, we will earn that invaluable entrée into their lives and hearts to speak truth, wisdom, and encouragement in response to their needs. It’s hard to “receive” advice from a family member who doesn’t really pay much attention to you, or who hardly ever spends any quality time with you.
The subjects of these past two posts on spiritual leadership in the home have been initiative and attentiveness. I am by no means the expert on either of these things, but I am giving them my genuine effort. Every week, I have to try to summon the courage and the energy to lead my family, to lean on the Spirit’s help and guidance, to study my family and know their needs, to be proactive and be the initiator, instead of just passively sitting back and only acting when there is an unavoidable crisis.
Eugene Peterson said it well: “There is nothing I am less good at than love. And yet I decide, every day, to attempt what I do very clumsily – daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.”
I am certain that I fail at least twice as much as I succeed in the areas of initiative and attentiveness, but I am committed to giving my all to my family and to God in His call on me to be the spiritual leader of my home. Limping through genuine effort is far better than giving no effort at all. And the Spirit is committed to help us grow as we practice and don’t give up!
Oh Lord, please help us to be such men and leaders in our homes!