When a man becomes a father, I will usually give him a copy of Mighty Men: The Starter’s Guide to Leading Your Family by John Crotts. This little book is one of my favorites on the subject of spiritual leadership. Simply, because of the author’s emphasis on the authenticity of character. It must first be found in a man’s daily life.
Any man can say and sound spiritual in public, but how is his heart? And what is he doing privately in his life? Crotts addresses these questions in the second chapter of this booklet:1
Certainly some men are leaders only because of title or position. But the kind of man that inspires others to come after him is a man of virtue or character. Former United States General and President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible. If a man’s associates find him guilty of being a phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teaching and actions must square with each other. The first great need therefore, is integrity and high purpose.”
The author is a husband, father, and pastor who understands spiritual leadership. It is both personal and private, first. The man of God must begin with himself and then look to others. Much like what we are instructed to do on an airplane:
Leadership starts in your heart and your life. If you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others… All airline flights have either safety videos or personal instructions that include information about the loss of cabin pressure. If the plane loses cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down. A parent is told to first put their own mask on before securing their children’s masks. A Dad or Mom who passes out while trying to secure their child’s mask is of no use to himself or his child! This picture is also true of family leadership. You must first take care of your own heart and life before you will be fit to properly lead your own family.
When it comes to spiritual leadership, character must be the first area of development for the man. It matters. It is not what he says, but what he really does. It is not how he looks, but how he really lives. Character counts, and here are three reasons why:
1. Root produces fruit.
Jesus’ words in Matt 7:15-20 give evidence of this, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.”
This concept is true both in your life and family! Your heart for God will come out in a life lived for God. Your godliness will bear fruit in your wife and children.
2. Others will hear your example.
One’s talk is not good enough. Eventually, people will hear more than your words. They will hear your example. That is why men must walk the talk. No excuses. We fail, yes. It is a lifelong pursuit, yes. But godly character will be demonstrated by a day-to-day commitment to personal holiness.
People do not follow leaders they don’t respect. You can wax eloquent to your children about Jesus being their top priority in life. But if they watch you skip church three out of four Sundays for recreation, your words will ring hollow!
3. People were made to imitate.
Men, in this commitment to godliness, what are some of the spiritual disciplines practiced in the privacy of your home? Would others be able to say that you demonstrate a commitment to your own personal growth?
Jesus didn’t just drop down to die on the cross, rise again, then fly back up to heaven. He came to live with His disciples. He taught them by word, but He backed it up with a perfect 33-year example. The spiritual leadership that you so desperately need to be assuming must begin in your heart and life.
Gentlemen, character counts. Take the first step today and pick up a copy of this little book for yourself.
1 Crotts, John H. Mighty Men: The Starter’;s Guide to Leading Your Family (Sand Springs: Grace & Truth Books,2004). 6-9.