Have you ever been accused of being an instigator? If you have siblings and think back to when you were young, maybe you remember some times where you instigated something with your sister. You teased her just enough to get her riled up. Or maybe you remember pushing your music teacher’s buttons to get a reaction. Or maybe even now you love giving your wife a hard time about that one thing she did…just because it’s fun!
It turns out that you are an instigator.
Being a “Spiritual Leader” can seem like an overwhelming or impossible task. We may not admit it to ourselves, but sometimes we let fear, doubt or shame stop us from trying. Sometimes we forget that God equips those he calls. He has called you to be the spiritual leader, and He will help you.
And actually, in some ways spiritual leadership is as simple as being an instigator. To instigate means that you get something started. You decide to take an action that results in other actions. That’s the core of spiritual leadership, and that’s why you have always had a bit of an instigator inside you! Now it’s time to use that tool for its original purpose.
Let’s be practical. If spiritual leadership is new to you, then it may be helpful to read through some practical tips to get you started.
1. Say a prayer with your wife every night after you turn out the lights.
If you don’t consistently pray with your wife, this may be awkward at first. If so, just turn out the lights and pray in the dark. This can be as simple as: “Dear God. Thank you for this day. Help us sleep well tonight. Keep us safe and be with us. Amen.” Trust me, your wife will feel loved and taken care of once she knows knows why we are starting this new habit.
2. If you have kids, say a prayer over them every night.
Again, simple is fine. “God, thank you for these kids. Protect them. Watch over them. Help them to hear Your voice. Amen.”
Simple prayers are simply powerful, and the consistency of an every-night-prayer will marinate them in goodness, like a Kansas City barbecue. It will also model for your children that talking with God is important and should be done on a daily basis. It also helps them to go to bed with good thoughts that will also lead to a good night’s sleep. (If you don’t know what to say, download the Wild at Heart One Minute Pause app and let John Eldredge lead you both!)
3. Take turns praying at meals.
A simple prayer of gratitude is all it takes. “Thank you for this food. You have given us so many good things and we love you! Amen.” Prayers of gratitude remind you and your children that everything we have is from God. It helps retrain the way we think. It helps us change from entitlement and selfishness to contentment.
4. Take them to church. Make one positive comment about the service, and then ask a question about it on the drive home.
Start with something simple. “I liked that 3rd song today.” Or, “he really had some good points.” Or, “my favorite scripture was…”
Then, if you have kids: “How was your class today?” Or, “What did you think of the sermon? What did you learn about? What friends were there today?”
With your wife: “What do you think about the sermon? Did any of the Bible verses or main points jump out at you?”
5. Read your Bible once a week.
Start with Luke or Ephesians. Just read through a chapter or 2, and think about what it means and how to use it to make your life better. Write down one verse that stuck out to you and think about it throughout the day.
6. On your drive home from work, ask God what your wife and kids need from you that day.
This may mean you have to stop and spend $10 on flowers once in a while, or that you drop your plans and play basketball in the driveway after supper instead of finishing a project. God knows what your family needs and He is more than happy to share it with you. Some days you will have a thought come to mind, other days you will hear nothing. Whether you hear something or not the focus of this exercise is to get in the habit of asking God questions and listening for the answers. The more you do it the better you will get at listening and hearing His voice. Trust me, it is worth practicing. I can’t guarantee these results, but my wife was amazed when I walked into the house after work with her favorite flowers on a random Tuesday. I didn’t know it had been a terrible day at home, but when she found out God told me to buy her flowers she was blown away. She felt seen and heard by God, and loved and cared for by God and by a husband that cared enough to ask the question.
Instigator Equals Initiator
Commit to doing these 6 things on a consistent basis, and you will be started on the path of being a Spiritual Instigator. Ultimately whether or not your wife or your children choose to love and serve the LORD is not up to you. It is their decision. But as the spiritual leader, the spiritual instigator, your job is to get the ball rolling or to keep the momentum going. You need to create an environment in your home where your wife and your kids bump into the LORD. Where they hear about Him and experience Him. You don’t have to be a hero, you just have to be humble and courageous enough to start.
If you don’t feel equipped, talk with someone you respect and ask them for advice. We never have to do this alone.
These are six ways I have brought God into our lives. What are your favorite ways to do it in your home? Please comment below so we can all become spiritual instigators in our homes!