The most important life role leadership position you will ever have is your role as a leader in your family! Yet most people have no training or framework to help them be the best leader of their family. That is one of the reasons that Phil Hodges, Tricia Goyer and I wrote, Lead Your Family Like Jesus.
By looking at how Jesus might lead your family, I hope you will learn how to build a more loving relationship with your spouse, children and extended family – no matter how you were raised and no matter what challenges your family faces.
To lead your family like Jesus, there are four domains – your heart, your head, your hands and your habits. Let’s take a look at each.
"First comes the Heart of leading your family like Jesus. Your heart has to do with a couple of things. One is character, which is the sum of all of your capabilities and how you use those to live your life in the way that God created you. He has a plan for your life and He wants you to serve people, not to be served."Ken Blanchard
The second part of the heart is your intentions. Are you actually serving God and serving your family, or are you really interested in serving yourself? If I asked you, which would you check on this survey?
- I’m a servant leader
- I’m a self-serving leader
- I’m a little of both
Most people say, “I’m a little of both.” Why? It is reality. The Lord made us in His image and made us loving, caring, serving human beings, but then He gave us free will, which allows our egos to get in the way, and we want things to be our way.
The second domain of leading your family like Jesus is the Head. This is your viewpoint or belief about leading and influencing your family. Servant leadership is the only leadership approach that Jesus ever endorsed.
There are two parts to servant leadership. First is the leadership part, which is vision, direction and goals. Leadership is about going somewhere. If your family doesn’t know where you want them to go, they’ll have a hard time getting there – let alone get excited about the journey. You’ve got to start with a sense of direction and goals. The second part is about implementation, which is how you help your family live according to the vision and accomplish your goals.
A compelling vision tells you who you are (your purpose), where you are headed (your picture of the future), what’s going to guide your journey (your values) and what you should focus on right now (your goals).
Did Jesus have a vision for His disciples? He called them and said, “Come with me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). That was the business they were in. What do you think the picture of the future was? “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
What about values? The Pharisees came to Him and asked, “Which is the most important Commandment?” What did Jesus say? “Love God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul and love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-40). It’s all about love.
Then what about goals? He was clear on goals, particularly on the first commission when He told them what to wear, where to stay and told them to preach, “The Kingdom of God is near” (Matthew 10:6-7).
Do you have a vision for your family? Do the people in your family know what business you are in? What you are trying to accomplish?
People say to me, “Blanchard, did you have a purpose and mission statement for your family?” We did. In fact, our son, Scott, says, “When I was young and got into trouble, which I often did, I wish I was disciplined like my friends. But, no, I had to go down to the dinner table and tell my mother, father and sister why my behavior was inconsistent with family values, which had been established in an offsite retreat.”
We realized that if we didn’t provide our family with a clear vision to serve, our kids would end up serving themselves. They would become self-centered. We wanted to get into their hearts that life is not just about them. As the Bible says,
"Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained."Proverbs 29:18
The third part of leading your family like Jesus has to do with the hands. “Hands” are how you put into action what is in your heart and in your head. When Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, He was transitioning from vision and direction to action. To carry out this vision, Jesus empowered His disciples. His role then became to work for them as their day-to-day coach.
Most parents don’t even get into coaching or set academic goals for their children. So what happens? The kids bring home grades that are unacceptable. Without clear goals, you have nothing to “coach” about.
We set goals for our children focused on their academic achievement, their relationships with adults, their relationships with their friends and their contribution to the family. Let’s take academics. We wanted them to have at least a 3.0 average. Why not a 4.0? We thought a 3.0 average combined with school activities and student leadership positions could get them into a good college.
How did we coach them? We learned that teachers filled out a weekly progress report for students with academic problems, but as a parent, you could ask for the weekly report even if there wasn’t a problem. So we asked for those reports. Scott and Debbie didn’t like it, but it gave us a way to monitor their progress. We would use this to praise them when things were good, and when they needed more time to focus, we used the reports to determine what they could and couldn’t do on the next weekend. We used it as a way to coach them.
Habits help you stay on course in leading your family like Jesus. These are the daily ways you connect with God to refocus your commitment to lead your family like Jesus. Jesus modeled keeping connected to His Father. I just love, “I am the vine, you are the branches … without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus knew about being attached to His Father. In John 5:19 He says, “The Son can do nothing by Himself. He can only do what He sees His Father do.”
There are five habits that are really important. The first one is accepting the unconditional love of God, which trumps all the others because it keeps us from edging God out. How do you continue to build on and accept God’s unconditional love? The other four habits reinforce that you have a loving partner as a family leader.
The second one is solitude. Did Jesus use solitude? Yes. After His baptism, He went off for 40 days by Himself. He also went off by Himself when He found out that John the Baptist had been killed, probably to deal with grief. He went off by Himself after he fed the 5000, probably to deal with pride because they wanted Him to be king.
The one I love is where Jesus is doing a lot of healing, and there is going to be a big crowd the next morning. The Bible says, “Early the next morning, Jesus went off by Himself to pray” (Mark 1:35). When the disciples found Him they said, “Come, everyone is waiting.” Did He care about those people? Sure. There was not a more caring person that ever walked on the earth. What did He say? “Come with Me, let’s go to the next village so I can preach, for that is why I’ve come.” So if you don’t make time for solitude, you’re going to get off purpose.
The third habit is prayer. I love the A.C.T.S acronym for prayer. It starts with A for Adoration – Lord, you are unbelievable, look at what you’ve created. C is Confession – what you did that day that you wish you could have a do-over, a mulligan. Tell the Lord, He already knows anyway. T stands for Thanksgiving. He loves for you to have thankful heart. S stands for Seek or Supplication – your wish list. Typically, when most people pray, it’s really, “Lord, do this,” or “Lord, I need/want that,” and that’s okay. He wants to know your requests, but I think it works better with adoration, confession and thanksgiving first.
The next habit is the study of Scriptures. When I first read about Jesus being tempted by the devil, I smiled, because I realized He could have dismissed the devil because of who He was. Instead, every time He was tempted, He would say, “It is written.” He quoted Scripture. What Scriptures help you in daily life?
Margie and I love Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:31, “If God is for you, who can be against you?”
The last habit is involvement in supportive relationships where you are part of a group that continually encourages you to stay on track and to be the person God wants you to be as a family leader. I meet with a men’s group at my church every Thursday where we study together, encourage each other and support each other to be the best we can be. I’m also on a telephone Bible study group every Wednesday morning.
Remember, be intentional about your love for your family and your spouse. Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He also said, “Surely I am with you always until the end of time.” Jesus wants to be your friend; He wants to be with you. Jesus is always there to help and guide you as you build a loving and caring family.
By: Ken Blanchard
In addition to being a renowned speaker, consultant, and bestselling author, Ken Blanchard currently serves as the Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies. His book The One Minute Manager has sold over 13 million copies and has been translated into 37 languages. He has coauthored over 30 other best selling books, including Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service, Leadership & The One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership, and Gung Ho! Turn On The People In Any Organization.Read More Articles by Ken Blanchard