Perhaps you would agree with me, that if we were asked which is the greatest commandment for a father, it would be that famous saying, “the best thing a father can do for his children is Love their mother.” But there appears to be a “second like it”. (Just like our Lord Jesus has “two great commandments.”) This second commandment for fathers is to manage themselves: This is what Bill Hybels calls, “Self-leadership.” He alludes to Daniel Goleman’s observations: “He [Goleman] calls it ‘emotional self-control. … this form of self-control is exhibited by leaders when they persevere in leadership despite overwhelming opposition or discouragement; when they refuse to give up during times of crisis; when they manage to hold ego at bay; and when they stay focused on their mission rather than being distracted by other people’s agendas” (Courageous Leadership, p. 184).
I know I need a lot of work on this “self-leadership.” And I know I definitely need the Lord Jesus Christ: He is my grace when I do not persevere in leading my family—whether they follow or not; He is my courage in times of discouragement; He is my strength in my moments of weakness; He is my focus when my vision blurs….
Oh, I’d like to share that I came upon this quote just last week. I was preparing myself to have a personal quiet time instead of sermon preparation when I felt a strong nudge in the Spirit to read this book, Courageous Leadership. “Aaa, Lord, I really would rather read Your word…,” but the nudge became a poke and then a—well, you get the picture. And I happen to read where a book marker was so conveniently placed…. “Yes, Lord, I’m listening.”
Lifestyle worshiper, maybe you have the same personal struggle I have: leading when it appears that no one is following? I am often mystified at how Moses didn’t want to lead, but he was leading. And He was leading people who didn’t want to follow, but they followed (you remember, out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, into the wilderness). As I lead my family, I often desired to see the responses I would get as a coach. We run a drill, no questions asked. If there’s any whining or slacking, “Take a lap,” and you know what? They did. But in the home, I just can’t say, “Drop and give me 20! Nope.
So, dads, perhaps you’ve already learned what I’m in the process of learning: Lead anyway! Love anyway! Persevere and hang in there. This second ‘greatest commandment’ for dads is truly a challenge, and that challenge is remembering to rely on the Lord Jesus Christ to be the dad in my Life He designed me to be and ‘lead’ myself toward Him. Just maybe the rest of the family will follow—especially if I’m also loving the mother of my kids, eh?
Main Text: — Matthew 22:36-40 — 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [NIV84]
Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. — Colossians 3:13 (NIV84)
In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate partner. Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers. —1 Peter 3:7 (ISV)
In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, as the Messiah does the church. — Ephesians 5:28-29 (ISV)
Heavenly Father, empower me to lead with integrity and courage. Strengthen my feeble arms and weak knees. Embolden me to lead my family in Love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.