It doesn’t happen a great deal, but occasionally a father and/or husband will hear my message of spiritual leadership responsibilities and ask me to show them where the Bible specifically gives the role of spiritual leader to the man. When a man does summon the courage to ask this question, I know that the underlying motive fits into one of three categories.
- The guy is simply trying to challenge the assertion that he is responsible for the spiritual leadership of his family because he doesn’t want the responsibility.
- The guy is skeptical about his true biblical role, but is willing to step up if I can persuade him with evidence in the Bible.
- The guy genuinely feels the responsibility of the spiritual wellbeing of his family, but really doesn’t know where to start.
The latter two categories bring joy to my soul, as I know I’m dealing with a man willing to be the spiritual leader of his family. The former, I have no patience or tolerance for such a man. Regardless of which category I feel the question is rooted, I typically start with Ephesians 6:4. In this one verse, Paul tells the fathers that we are to train up our children in the instructions of the Lord. Then I usually back up a chapter and reference Ephesians 5:25-27 where Paul we husbands are to sacrifice for our wives in order that they may grow spiritually to point of being holy and spotless. Under most circumstances I can stop with those two references, but certainly the Bible contains more.
Well, now I have yet another reference to address the question – Joshua 4.
After the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua: “Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, and command them: Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.” So Joshua summoned the 12 men he had selected from the Israelites, one man for each tribe, and said to them, “Go across to the ark of the Lord your God in the middle of the Jordan. Each of you lift a stone onto his shoulder, one for each of the Israelite tribes, so that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you? ’ you should tell them, ‘The waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the Lord’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s waters were cut off.’ Therefore these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.”
Do you notice the very specific mention of the men chosen for this task of building the stone altar? God told Joshua to select 12 men, then Joshua selected 12 men – 1 man from each tribe of Israel. God was specific to mention men and Joshua was specific to select men. Before you run to the conclusion that God specified men to do this work because moving the stones required the physical strength found only in the men let me share with you how chapter four of Joshua ends.
Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan, and he said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones? ’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God.”
Uh oh men, there is no hiding behind the physical labor reasoning now. When Joshua looked out over the entire crowd of Israelites, he specifically mentioned that the children would be asking the fathers about the meaning of the stone altar. God didn’t ask the women to move the stones, nor did He ask the women to answer the spiritual questions of their children. Now this is not to say that it is somehow sinful or against God’s will should a mother answer a question related to God or the Bible. Instead, this is simply a very clear indication (or maybe indictment) that we men need to step up and be the spiritual leaders of our family. We need to take the responsibility to grow in our own relationship with Jesus in order that we can ensure the proper growth of our family.
Sometimes the truth hurts, but it is still the truth. Step up men and answer the questions that might come from your children or even your wife. When your children or wife come to you and ask “what do these stones mean to you?”, what will be your answer? They likely won’t ask about stones specifically, but you’d better be prepared for… “Dad, why do we have to go to church today?” “Dad, why do we have to memorize Bible verses?” “Dad, why do we need to prayer before meals and bedtime?” “Dad, why…?”
Your kids aren’t asking those types of questions? Well, you likely have deeper issues.
What questions related to God, Jesus, or the Bible are your family asking? How prepared to you feel to answer those questions? What insights can you share with the rest of us that might help us lead our families well?
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