We know God through His creations, just as we know an author through his books. With God, though, the creations are epic in scale—the universe, nature, the animals, and our very bodies, to name a few. But just as every author has notable works that speak the hearts of the masses, so does God have his—the family.
Families reveal God’s character better than anything else. The love between husband and wife allows us a glimpse at the love of God for creation, and the experience of parenthood gives us a look at how God feels about His children. Family provides a structure in which we grow during our most vulnerable years, a place to get learn how to interact with others in safety. Family is one of God’s greatest gifts to us, and one of our best windows into His character.
This is only so, though, if we keep Him as the head of our families. A non-Christian family can, of course, be perfectly happy—but because our actions are reflected through our worldview, it won’t be the active example of God’s character that the world desperately needs to see. Consider these 6 ways to keep God at the head of your family, and be that beacon the world needs.
Make Time For God
This admonition may seem like common sense, but it is foundational, and often overlooked as we go about our busy lives. The simple act of meeting a few days a week at dinner to talk about God can make all the difference. Don’t be afraid to assign everyone a little homework—that includes yourself, your spouse, and your children. Read scripture. Talk about it.
God needs to feel close to everyone in a family—not just the abstract idea of a distant creator heard about on Sunday mornings, but a personal, loving God from whom we can learn how to best live. Make time to allow Him to be an active part of your lives. Jesus says, in Matthew 4:4, that we’re not to live on “bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” This means that we need more than the material, more than the everyday. We need spiritual nourishment.
Make time for God, just as you would a beloved family member, and He’ll begin to feel like more than a nebulous presence—He’ll be family. Create the vertical relationship with Him, and it will flow into the horizontal relationships around you.
Invite questions of faith in your family. It’s important to create a safe space where family members can ask difficult questions. If your children question the existence of God because of something their friend told them He’s not real, or if they’re anguished over why God allows tragedy to happen, don’t get angry. Get talking. God makes sense, and all of reality—and thus, all questions—will point back to Him. You may have to educate yourself or reach out to outside sources such as pastors or theology teachers, but strengthened, affirmed faith is well worth it.
Putting up walls and making questions off-limits only fosters division and resentment—especially for children, but sometimes for spouses, as well. This creates an environment where it is easier to simply walk away from God because secular answers become more satisfying. God gave us intelligent, reasoning minds—satisfy those minds, and your faith will be all the stronger.
God loves His children in a way that none of us can understand, despite knowing our every errant thought, our every flaw, and our every imperfection. Recognizing that love and striving to show the same in your own family not only creates a loving home, but provides an example of God’s characters to outside observers.
We should strive to love our spouse and children in an unconditional way—not only this, but we should make that love known. Our families shouldn’t have to guess—it should be apparent that they are well-loved.
And how can you do this? You get to know your family. Find out what makes them tick, what they love, what they can’t stand. Connect with them on these subjects. Find out what your son is reading and read it, too. Pick up that second controller when your daughter plays a video game. Join your husband on that hike. People are deeply multi-dimensional creatures, and having someone take a genuine interest in what makes you unique is one of the best feelings around. Doing your best to actively love your family as God does sets a great example for others, and encourages your whole family to emulate this characteristic of God.
Don’t model the human brokenness which comes from attempting to lead by yourself. Place God at the top, and be the best family you can be.
Modern life seems to conspire against togetherness—there are myriad ways to entertain yourself without any human interaction at all. But families who engage in activities together are closer, happier, and communicate better. Just as the trinity of God represents perfection in closeness, community, and communication, you should strive to be a human representation of the same.
What better way to do this than by helping others? Your local church likely has numerous volunteer opportunities such as food drives, community cleanup, and other kinds of outreach programs. This shows the secular community what Christians are capable of, drawing outsiders in.
If we take the example of Jesus, which Mark 10:45 tells us is, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” we know that serving others pleases God, so Honor him as a family, and volunteer.
We’re human, and so problems happen within families. James 4:1 asks the question, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” The fourth chapter of James goes on to list causes of conflict, most of which stem from differing forms of selfishness, and separation from God. Resolving conflict in a scriptural way keeps God as the head of your household, not your emotions.
James 4:11-12 reads, “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law…” We are not to insult or speak badly of our family when they make mistakes. Remember that the goal of problem-resolution is to keep someone from causing themselves or others harm, not to take revenge. Guide, remind, and in the case of children, discipline, but take God’s example and do so with their good as the end goal, not their harm.
God is orderly. He created the natural laws of the universe by which everything runs like clockwork, after all. Scripturally, He created roles in families, as well.
The word “role” is contentious. To many, it represents a cage, or a set of inviolable instructions by which we must live, or face consequences.
The scriptural truth? That’s not what roles are at all. Let’s rethink the word.
Every government, corporation, and organization runs on a certain hierarchy. If they didn’t, anarchy would prevail and nothing would ever get done. For the Christian family, God is the CEO. He’s the president, right up there at the top. While the roles of parents and child are fairly well-established and defined, the Biblical roles outlined for husband and wife are where the controversy lies. Throughout history, many have interpreted scripture as commanding that wives be absolutely subservient to their husbands, who hold utter dominion over the family.
That’s not correct.
The key here is found in Ephesians 5:22-24, “The husband is head of his wife as Christ is head of the church…” Notice that this scripture doesn’t simply say that the husband is the head of the wife—it says that he does so as Christ is head of the church. This makes all the difference. Christ’s leadership isn’t merely dominion—it’s servitude, too. Christ died for us. He was made humble flesh for us. He led through example, not force. Yes—scripturally, the man should strive to be the leader of his household, but that leadership is not our idea of leadership—it’s Christ’s. It’s leadership that comes out of love, humility, and communication, not tyranny.
Keep God at the top, in the president’s seat, and remember His version of familial roles—not man’s popular view.