Wandering the savage garden…

Thoughts for being leaders for our families

The men’s study for Monday nights has started back up. This week, the fellow speaking (one of my church’s pastors) asked for a more interactive session, where men contributed some of their ideas for being “lead learners” for their families.

The text was the Sh’ma (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

In English, from the ESV:

4“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

This particular pastor was a teaching pastor at his church years ago, and had this position despite being a “pioneer Christian,” meaning a Christian whose family was not Christian, and who had no family support or education in the faith. A mentor told him that he should become the “lead learner” for his church, meaning one who learns first and teaches as he learns.

It’s worth pointing out that this pastor is a fine man, a strong Christian, an honest person who is a wonderful example of an overseer in the tradition of 1 Timothy 3:1-7. He blesses those around him.

So he went into the Shema as a source text, showing us that this core statement of Judaism (and thus Christianity, being echoed by Jesus as the “Greatest Commandment” in Matthew 22:35-40) tells us, as leaders of our families, to be the same “lead learners,” to focus on our own lives in Christ such that we can help others in our families as well.

It was interesting feedback. From memory, and thus poorly quoted and incomplete to boot:

  • Find a mentor.
  • Love the Bible, and study it.
  • Study with your family.
  • Discipline yourself to make study a regular occurrence.

I wanted to add “be willing to fail” to the list – because one of the things I want my sons to know is that the attempt is the thing, not success. That isn’t to say that I want to try to fail, because I don’t.

But I want my sons to see me picking myself up, returning to the task until it’s finished or I have an alternative solution. I want them to see my dedication to accomplishment; I don’t want them to think any failure is the same as all failure.

One thing I’ve started doing recently: I’ve started praying with my family. I started taking time to pray for my family a few months ago, but they don’t see me praying for them; it’s something I can say that I do, without actually doing it.

But if I pray with them, they see the evidence of me taking the time, instead of thinking I’m spending some abstract moment perhaps in prayer for them – they know, without a doubt, that I’m committing time and energy to prayer, they see how I pray and when I pray.

They may not follow my example. They may not even believe my sincerity; that’s all right. Time will heal every issue there, by the grace of God. I just want them to see real evidence of someone taking time to pray for and with them, so that some day they might remember that old, grey, broken-down fellow who took the time to care, and lead the best he could.

And who knows? My sincere hope is that some day they exceed me in every way – and they now see the bar I’m trying to set in my own life.

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