by Reid Patton
When my wife and I first got married (six and a half years ago at the time of this writing), we went to a church we loved that continually emphasized the importance of spiritual leadership in the home. Being newly married, we sought to take what we were hearing at church about how to be a godly family and apply it to our new family.
During this same period, we were also in a small group with five other couples, each of whom had been married less than six months. All six couples were trying to do the same thing. What we found out was family worship and being a spiritual leader was easier said than done.
Every time I talked to the other husbands, we all admitted our struggles in our newfound role as a spiritual leader. Awkward was the word that came up most often. We felt so awkward. The kind of spiritual leadership being recommended to us by our church was never modeled for us by our own parents, even though we all came from Christian homes. So how do you go about doing something you’ve never done, never seen done, and feel awkward doing?
The answer is less complicated than you might assume. We just started having family worship.
There’s an old Puritan saying about prayer that says, “Pray until you pray.” The Puritans realized that everyone struggles with prayer. Everyone’s mind wanders when they try and pray. So the way you have meaningful prayer is you simply pray until you pray. The same logic applies to family worship. You keep trying until you succeed, realizing that some times will be better than others. To feel less awkward, you have to keep going. To learn how to do something you’ve never seen or done before, you do it. In time you will figure out what works best for your family. As a husband and a father, what’s important is helping your family pursue the Lord.
For our newly formed family, this looked like reading the Bible and praying together. Some weeks were better than others, but my wife read her Bible, I read mine, we talked about it, and we prayed with and for one another. It was really no more complicated than that. We continued to talk, and it got a lot easier.
Thankfully, this whole process has gotten even easier with a toddler (though it may be the only thing in life that got easier by adding a toddler). The folks at B&H have created The Big Picture Interactive Bible Stories for Toddlers, available in Old and New Testaments. These resources are really affordable, well made, and are aligned with The Gospel Project curriculum our daughter uses at church. These small board books have allowed us to sit down with our daughter, read a story she has just heard at church, talk with her about it, pray with her, and point her back to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We cannot recommend them highly enough. The whole process with my daughter takes around 10 minutes at bedtime.
So maybe you’re wondering what it means to lead your family spiritually. I think you will find yourself in good company with most of the Christian husbands and fathers you know. We all feel awkward at first. Allow yourself to feel awkward. Talk to an older, wiser husband at church. Glean his wisdom for leading a family. Plan to take time with your wife and kids to talk about the Bible. Just start somewhere. Hey, it may be awkward now, but it won’t be awkward forever. Eventually you will get comfortable and having some kind of family worship and devotions will become a natural part of your family rhythms.