One of the ways you can spot a godly man is by looking at his children. This is what the Bible says when it talks about those who aspire to become leaders in the church. Church leaders are models for the congregation. So, whatever quality the leader must possess is the goalpost for the congregation to strive to possess. In this case, the church is to strive to have godly households.
Over the past few months, we have learned the importance of having a blameless reputation, sexual purity, a sensible mind, restrained appetites, respectable attraction, responsive sympathy, powerful speech, continual soberness, stubborn calmness, persistent patience, and a peaceful pursuit. Now, we want to devote our attention to building a successful home.
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”1 Timothy 3:1-7
Up to this point, all of the qualities preceding this one have been made up of one word in Greek, except for “the husband of one wife,” which is three words in Greek. This characteristic is spelled out over 25 words in the original language, making it the lengthiest and requiring special attention. Again, for the sake of clarity, here it is:
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?1 Timothy 3:1-7
The Sandbox of Leadership
Web developers have a “sandbox” environment, which is a space to test and improve our code before launching it into production. And similarly, the home is the space for men to work on their leadership, improve their skills, and develop helpful confidence outside the home. For this reason, the household is a great place to observe a man’s godliness and management skills. This is why it says, “if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” The inference here is that the home is a mini-church. How a man leads in the home will indicate how he will lead in the church.
The concept of “management” is front and center in this quality. It involves a kind of skill that leads in the manner of love. I use “skill” because this quality can be developed and improved with practice. But we shouldn’t miss that this is still a character quality. It is something a godly man must become. This is to say that he must lead and love from his heart. It is an expression of his true desires and habits. A godly man must lead and love as manager of “his own household.”
This brings us to the focus of his management. He is to manage the household that belongs to him. Today we can find a variety of household types that might include multiple generations, mixed families, or even households with unrelated people. The principle is still the same. The godly man must lead and love those within his household that belong to him, and you should adapt that to your setting and for whom you are responsible. In this passage, we find the most common of circumstances, a household of children that belong to the father.
The manner in which we are to lead, and love is summed up in one word, “well.” This means that he manages in a way that exceeds the norms. His management is distinct, not mediocre, and relatively usual. He doesn’t do what everyone else does. He doesn’t manage the flow. He steers with intention, having a specific goal in mind to glorify God, knowing that he can measure his skill at management by looking at his children, or those he manages.
Again, looking specifically at how he manages his children, we see that the submission of his children can observe excellent management. This refers to him keeping things under control and not leaving them to lead themselves or steer the household in the direction of their choice. In other words, the godly man is to run the family, not be run by the family. He is to control the environment, not be controlled by the environment. He is to maintain the household’s direction and quality of life, not relinquish his responsibility to his wife, children, or even the state.
The way this is accomplished will look different from home to home. You are to express your leadership and love for those in your care using the gifts and resources that God has given you. But, you are always to strive to manage with excellence and the kind of behavior that is above reproach, higher than normal, and worthy of admiration and respect. Godly men don’t manage their households like the men of this world. They do so in light of God’s Word guiding the household toward Christ and His grace.
The Aim of Leadership
Imagine yourself on a ship sailing in the ocean. You experience times of trouble as well as peaceful waters. Sometimes, you are steering with all your might to prevent capsizing. Other times, you are enjoying the bliss of the still waters that allow you to sit and watch the landscape God has created. But, whatever the circumstances, you are always attentive, always prepared, and always at the helm steering the boat in the direction of the sun, chasing the goodness of God and the purity of His light.
To pull it all together, a godly man leads and loves his household by carefully and intentionally steering the hearts of those in it toward the grace of God. A man who abandons this role is not a godly man; neither is a man who manages with abusive and dishonorable methods. The godly man is mindful of his manner and his methods of managing. He builds a successful home with the principles of Scripture for the glory of God and the good of his household.
It’s important to note that this quality is not requiring perfection. Neither you nor your children are perfect. Instead, it means that you lead and love your household in a way that doesn’t give space for others to bring a legitimate accusation against you. None of us men will guide and love all the time correctly. The home is a place to improve through humility and determination. We will fail and fail more than we want, but we can admit our shortcomings and model humility as we do. And we should strive to improve our management each time we do. This is what a successful home looks like — a godly man at the helm leading and loving his household in the grace of God.
Here are five steps to help you build a successful home.
For some of us men, there is an unhealthy fear of our children that exists in our hearts that causes us to yield to our children’s direction rather than God’s. So, make it a point to surrender yourself to God’s authority, not that of your children. Ultimately, God is the boss in the home, and we are merely the stewards. We need to fear Him, not our children. He knows what is best for all in the household, even if that is inconsistent with what the children want.
To lead and love your household the way God desires, you have to know what God wants and how He expects you to manage. So, make time to read and study your Bible each day to shape and transform your mind to think in the way Christ thinks. You may not notice a change immediately, but over time, the Lord will work in your heart to develop you into a more godly manager without you even noticing it.
Reading and studying the Bible will teach you more about being a godly man. You must put these principles into practice to exemplify godliness in your household. They need to “see” how to behave. They need to know what it looks like when you deal with challenges, rejoice in victories, and learn in hard times. Some of the best ways a little one can learn is by watching, and they are watching all the time. So be sure to give them a pattern of godliness to model.
More is needed to model godliness. You must also teach your household about godliness by pointing them consistently to Christ. Ephesians tells us to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The instruction of the Lord flows from the person and life of Jesus Christ. Show your children Christ in all of the Bible. Show them His kindness, forbearance, love, truth, and all He is and should be to them. You want your children to love Christ above all else. This is what it means to direct your household. It is steering them toward Christ and His grace.
As the leader of the household, you are responsible for the lives of the household and the overall direction of the family. You cannot do it by your strength. So, turn to the Lord in prayer often. Ask Him to help you, to give you wisdom, to help you improve, to soften your heart, and build unity within the home. Also, consider interceding for your children when you pray. By this, I mean that you should go to God on their behalf, asking for mercy, blessing, and favor. This is part of leading and loving them.