God calls Dads to be the spiritual leaders in their homes. This is evident from the last part of Ephesians 5 and the first several verses of Ephesians 6.
- “Wives, submit to your husbands.”
- “The husband is the head of the wife.”
- “Fathers … bring them [your children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
As a Christian husband and father, God has placed on my shoulders the responsibility to be a spiritual leader for my wife and for my children. I cannot abdicate that responsibility if I am to be pleasing to the Lord.
It is as important for us to understand what leadership is not, as it is for us to understand what leadership is. The fact that my wife is instructed to “submit” to me does not make her my servant. I am to love her enough to die for her if needed (Ephesians 5:25-28). I am commanded to be considerate of her and to respect her (1 Peter 3:7). There is nothing chauvinistic about that kind of loving leadership. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is a leadership characterized by humility, which should be the nature of every Christian – young or old, husband or wife, parent or child – in every aspect of life (Philippians 2:3-4).
The fact that my children are instructed to obey me (Ephesians 6:1) does not give me free reign over them as a tyrannical dictator. I am specifically instructed, as their father, to not exasperate them (Ephesians 6:4). The word exasperate carries the idea of being harsh and unreasonable, impatient and overly strict or severe. As a Christian father, my children are expected to obey me, and I am expected to be considerate of them, patient with them, and reasonable in my expectations of them as I fulfill my responsibility to train them in the ways of the Lord.
Training my children is a huge responsibility. It is my job to teach them right and wrong, and to help them develop the ability to discern between the two. It is my job to shepherd them lovingly as I introduce them to the Great Shepherd. I cannot leave that responsibility to the Bible class teachers, the youth minister or the preacher. It is my responsibility, and I will answer to God for whether and how I fulfilled it.