As a father, I think a lot about the command given to fathers in Ephesians 6:4. This is a command that God did not give to mothers, although mothers also are to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Prov. 31:26-28, 30). The command in Ephesians 6:4 is given to fathers, which tells me that God wants fathers and husbands to be leaders in the home (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-23). This notion is not a popular one in our society these days, mainly due to so many men NOT being leaders in their homes. Our homes, our nation, and the church are in decline as a result of this lack of leadership, and God is not pleased.
Men, God wants us to take leadership in the home. He wants us to take the helm, to be a man, a leader…especially when it comes to making the home a godly, spiritual sanctuary for your wife and children. When we do this, that’s when WE…not our wives, not our parents, but WE…will be bringing our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Our marriages will grow stronger, our families will be more godly, and over time our nation will begin to rise from her declining morality. The church also will grow stronger. After all, one of the scriptural qualifications of a leader in the church is that he “must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Tim. 3:4-5) Do we want stronger leaders in the church? It starts with being a strong leader in the home. It starts with husbands and fathers.
As a husband and father, I want to be the type of leader in the home that God wants me to be, and I want all of my fellow fathers and husbands to be the same. I want wives and mothers to also be good leaders for your children, setting the proper example for them and for their husbands. I want those who are in leadership positions in the workplace and who are leaders in the church to be the type of leaders God wants you to be.
When I think of biblical leadership, I think of Joshua, a man who had great influence over those in his generation (Josh. 24:29-31) because he was faithfully obedient to God’s Word (Josh. 1:7-8). He was also a very humble man, shown by the fact the was willing to serve others both before and after he became a leader. He served as Moses’ assistant for forty years (Ex. 24:13; 33:11), which tells me that great leaders are people who have no problem serving others. In fact, serving others helps them to lead. When Joshua took the helm after Moses’ death, God himself magnified the man (Josh. 3:7)…but Joshua didn’t let that go to his head. He was still willing to serve One greater than himself (Josh. 5:13-15). This tells me that I as a husband and father need to be humble if I want to be a great leader, because great leaders do not let praise go to their head. Great leaders are humble enough to know when it is time to serve once again. They are humble servants as well as leaders.
Joshua’s humility is shown even more when we see that he was a man of faith and trust in God. When ten of his fellow spies had no faith in God (Num. 13:25-28), he and Caleb remained steadfast in spite of the peer pressure they felt to join the majority in their lack of faith (Num. 14:6-9). Later, God would give this military commander with lots of military experience directions to take Jericho which would make no sense from a militarily strategic point of view…and Joshua obeyed them to the letter due to his strong faith and trust in God (Josh. 6:1-5; Heb. 11:30). This tells me that great leaders realize that they cannot place their faith in men, or in themselves. They must look to God and completely trust in him!
Closely related to this is another quality of Joshua that made him a great leader, the fact that he was a man of God’s Word (Josh. 1:7-8). His success as a leader was directly related to his adherence to Scripture. He would tell others to stay true to God’s Word (Josh. 1:12-15), and would read the entire law of Moses to the whole nation and commit them to obey it (Josh. 8:30-35). Even at the end of his life, he was encouraging the nation to obey God’s Word (Josh. 23:6, 14-16). The following passage sums it up best: “Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Josh. 11:15)
We know that faith comes from God’s Word (Rom. 10:17). This means that I as a husband and father cannot expect to be a godly, faithful leader in the home without being a man who knows and follows all of God’s Word to the best of my ability. None of us can be faithful leaders in the home, in the church, or in the workplace without being men and women of the Book. God is telling us the same thing he told Joshua (Josh. 1:8; 1 Tim. 4:13-16). Fathers and mothers, do you want to lead your children to heaven? Husbands, do you want to lead your wife to heaven? Bosses, do you want to show your employees the way to heaven? Elders in the church, do you want every single member of your flock to go to heaven? The way is simple. Know God’s Word, and obey it. All of it.
Additionally, we must follow Joshua’s example by being devoted to prayer. When hard times came, Joshua and the elders of Israel prayed to God (Josh. 7:6-9). Joshua would even take time to pray in the middle of waging a great battle (Josh. 10:12-14). This tells me that he didn’t trust in his own strength; rather, he looked to the Lord for help. Fathers, mothers, husbands, bosses, elders, deacons…when leaders need all the help they can get, they need to be people of prayer!
Basically, Joshua was a man who put God first. We know this because he took the time IN THE MIDDLE OF A HUGE MILITARY CAMPAIGN to read the entirety of the Bible as it was at the time to the whole nation (Josh. 8:30-35), even when doing so would give his enemies time to regroup (Josh. 9:1-2). Nevertheless, he still put God first. He didn’t care what others did or thought. As for him and his family, they would serve the Lord (Josh. 24:14-16). That is my goal for my family. Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives…is that your goal? Employers, is that your goal for your company and business? Pastors, deacons, is that your goal for the church? Are all of us actively pursuing that goal?
Israel served God while Joshua was alive (Josh. 24:31). Why did they do this? Because Joshua was the type of leader that we need to be if we hope to lead our loved ones, our fellow Christians, and those who are lost to heaven. Do you want your family, your church, and your employees to serve God? Be a leader like Joshua. It is my prayer that we can all be people of humility, men and women of faith and trust in God, men and women of the Word, men and women of prayer, men and women who put God first in all areas.