Editor’s note: The following essay appears in the Fall 2023 issue of Eikon.
From the Pastor’s Desk
How are you doing as a man? A father? A husband? A friend? What is the state of your family (and if unmarried, then other relationships)? Does your family zealously love Jesus Christ? How do you know? To answer questions like these, we must establish that faithfulness is the goal, not certain results. We cannot be the Holy Spirit in our family’s life. We cannot ensure certain outcomes when it comes to people. Faithfulness, therefore, is the aim. In preparation for this essay, I sat down and thought about all the Godly Home Leaders (GHLs) I have observed over the years. And I started cataloging things they did that I admired. What made them compelling? And as I did this, I noted that they all did similar things. But I also noted that they all did similar things because of certain beliefs, certain convictions. In what follows, I share five convictions of GHLs, and the fruit that characterizes their lives and families as a result.
First Conviction: The Bible is true and precious.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7).
GHLs are life-long learners. These men read the Bible regularly. They know the Word. They are convinced that “a Bible not understood is a Bible that does no good.” They are “into” theology for practical reasons. It is their life. As Thomas Watson explains, “They meditate, delight in, hide it in their hearts, defend it, prefer it, talk about it and conform to it,” because, “A pious soul meditates on the truth and holiness of the Word. He not only has a few transient thoughts, but leaves his mind steeping in the Scripture. By meditation, he sucks from this sweet flower and ruminates on holy truths in his mind.” GHLs are Ezra 7:10 men, “. . . the good hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” They are Psalm 119 men. As David says, “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times” (v. 20). Or as he adds in verse 97: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all day.” This all-consuming passion and love for God’s Word characterizes a GHL. Being a GHL starts with a love for the Word. And then this love gets passed on to the family. If we do not love the Word, then we will not be GHLs.
Second Conviction: The Lord is to be feared.
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar” (Ps. 139:1–2).
Michael Reeves defines the fear of the Lord this way: “True Fear of God is true love for God defined: it is the right response to God’s full-orbed revelation of himself in all his grace and glory.” GHLs are men of integrity who are intentional in being doers of the Word (Ezra wanted to teach it and do it). This is important to GHLs — they are trustworthy men. This is where so many fail in our day and age. Everyone wants to be a talker, a teacher, an influencer, but not a doer. The world may be impressed with talkers, but our families will not be. Our kids will not be. If we fail to do the Word, then we are teaching our family that the Bible is not true and that God does not exist. We must be doers of the Word. James 1:22 reminds us, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Our Scripture study needs to conform us — not just inform us. The goal is change, to be men of action. The family will not follow if we are not doers of the Word. We can listen all day, talk all day, but the family will know if we obey the Word or not. If we do not obey the Word, then we cannot expect our families to respect our leadership or follow us — they will not trust us.
To be a doer of the Word is to be a man of integrity. GHLs are the same person at home as they are at church or in the office. Some occasions call for different approaches, but they are the same person everywhere. What you see is what you get. Their life is above board — they live in the light. They are not afraid of being exposed because there is nothing to expose. There are no skeletons in their closet. GHLs do the right thing because it pleases their king, come what may. They do not fear their wife or children. They do not fear their boss or friends. GHLs fear the Lord, which results in being fearless and courageous.
Third Conviction: Sin requires a Savior.
“For all have fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Because they have experienced salvation, GHLs love the Lord from the heart. The Bible teaches that the heart is the control center of our lives, dealing with our thoughts, beliefs, desires, and goals. Knowing this, GHLs seek to conform each of those areas to the Lord. They are faithful in using the means of grace to align their soul with the Lord’s. They understand you cannot pass on what you do not have. They forgive because they have been forgiven (Col. 3:13). As recipients of grace, they are grace conduits and are gracious in the home, gracious with their wives and gracious with their children (Col. 3:19, 21). GHLs are leaders in grace. Their homes are filled with grace — they are the first to ask forgiveness and the first to grant it. GHLs own up when they are wrong. They ask their wives for forgiveness when necessary. The same is true with their children. Few things will embitter a wife against her husband, or children against their father, more than when he fails to ask for forgiveness when he has sinned against them.
Fourth Conviction: Marriage should be prioritized.
“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church” (Eph. 5:28-29).
GHLs have great marriages. They honor their wives before their kids — they look for ways to do this and revel in it. GHLs create an environment where the children know and understand that disrespect towards their mother will not be tolerated. GHLs give their wives the guidance, support, and tools she needs to help her flourish in her role as wife and mother. They date their wives and let them know they are special. One of the best things fathers can do for their children is to love their wives well. If we want our sons to desire to be family men, then we had better model joy in the home. If we want our sons to nourish and cherish their wives and serve the Lord together one day, then we had better give our wives some time and have fun with them. Why do people in our day and age despise marriage and commitment? Sure, Satan is attacking the family, and there are cultural pressures against God’s design for the family. But for too many, the home is a drag, and the marriages are dull. The home is not compelling. The GHLs primary human relationship is his wife and he enjoys her.
Fifth Conviction: Family culture must be cultivated.
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 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” (Deut. 6:5-7).
GHLs are able to get the whole family to buy into the family. They create a sacrificial culture in which serving one another is a dutiful delight, in which they set the tone by being a servant leader in the home. They create a culture of praise and worship and awe of the Lord, his majesty, and his majestic works. They create a culture of creativity, one in which the family does not merely consume entertainment, but is active and productive. To develop such a culture requires lots of time and intentional training: time together and intentionality in that time. Being distracted is a home killer. GHLs are not distracted — they have their finger on the pulse of the family and are spending themselves for the growth of each family member under their care.
In order to be a GHL, we must have convictions and live out those convictions. If we do not measure up in certain areas of life, then we need to repent and change course, knowing that it is the kindness of the Lord that leads men to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Let us hold each other to a high standard and encourage one another in love, reveling in Christ, the only one to have perfectly lived out his convictions. May we be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong, and let all that we do be done in love (1 Cor. 16:13).
J.O. Oesterling lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as Associate Pastor of Member Care for Kenwood Baptist Church. He is a certified biblical counselor through ACBC.
 JC Ryle, Practical Religion (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2016), 122.
 Thomas Watson, A Godly Man’s Picture (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2003), 62–63.
 Michael Reeves, Rejoice and Tremble: The Surprising Good News of the Fear of the Lord (Union Series) (Wheaton: Crossway, 2021), 53.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.