If you read just one parenting book this fall, it needs to be Leading Your Family Like Jesus, one of the clearest and most thorough guides for modeling Christ in the home in recent years. While there are many good parenting books, based on opinion or research, this book takes its lead straight from the life of Christ and connects it to parental leadership in the home.
Part I: The Heart: “The character and the values you employ as you lead and influence your children”
Chapter 1: Important Forever
Leading as parents, as Jesus led is a spiritual matter. It is about EGO. It is either “Edging God Out” or “Exalting God Only.” “Edging God Out” will lead to parents making choices that will cause pain in the end. “Exalting God Only” is choosing to lead like Jesus led in His life.
Parents lead like Jesus in their homes by having an eternal perspective. They choose to hold loosely to the things of this world while cling tightly to cherishing loved ones.
Chapter 2: Say No to EGO
Leading like Jesus means parents choosing to be humble in their homes. These are parents who are secure and know their self-worth is found in worshipping God, separating their hearts and happiness from comparison with others. It is a movement from pride to peace: 1.) Identifying time when pride or fear pops up. 2.) Remembering whose we are. 3.) Taking the “So That” test. 4.) Give up control, and let God be your guide. 5.) Trust Him.
Chapter 3: An Audience of One
Parents leading like Jesus focus on God, not on others. Parents too often focus their attention on comparing their strengths and weakness to others. Instead of comparing, they need to focus on the person God has created them to be and the parent that He has called them to become. It is time to begin to “Exalt God Only” by altering their leadership approach.
Part II: The Head: “…Where you store your beliefs about parenting…”
Chapter 4: Family Values
To lead like Jesus, parents need to discover their family’s mission and take on that mission together by: 1.) Seeking the quality and service business of the family. 2.) Picturing the future of the family. 3.) Discovering the value of integrity, relationship, success, and the teamwork of the family. These all reflect Jesus’ own vision, values, and future goals.
Chapter 5: To Do or Not to Do
Parents leading like Jesus, know to say “yes” to the best and “no” to the rest. Parents saying “yes” to the priorities of Jesus; Loving God and loving their neighbor. Understanding this will set in motion the process of: 1.) Following God. 2.) Heeding His Direction. 3.) Discovering Core Values. 4.) Dedicating of Time and Resources.
Chapter 6: Staying on Course
Knowing the difference between a crisis and just dealing with one of life’s bumps in the road is another way to learn to lead like Jesus. This comes through learning purposeful responses to on-purpose behaviors of children. There are four responses a parent can give: 1.) No response. 2.) Negative response. 3.) Positive response. 4.) Redirection. Learning these responses allows parents to see the big picture and follow the purpose-driven Savior in the life of their family. Parents will experience both success and setbacks, but they will see them as purposeful life bumps and not allow them to become crises in their home.
Part III: The Hands: “…Family members will experience what is in your heart and head when your motivation and beliefs about parenting affects your hands, your actions.”
Chapter 7: For a Limited Time, Only
Parents who can lead like Jesus, can make the most of the child-rearing years. The season of Jesus’ leadership on the planet was limited to roughly three years. The urgency of time did not cause Him to panic but kept him from wasting His time on the nonessentials of life. There are four ways to avoid wasting the limited time of parental leadership: 1.) Value every day. 2.) Pay attention to God’s nudges. 3.) Get a mentor to help and encourage. 4.) Pinpoint each stage of children’s development.
Chapter 8: Teaching to the Test
Parents leading like Jesus have the opportunity to help their children succeed. Jesus coached His followers to be successful. Performance coaching works in the family as well. Parents need to prepare their children to perform well on the tests ahead in life. “Performance coaching” is about: 1.) Performance planning. 2.) Day-to-day coaching. 3.) Performance evaluation. The best way for parents to be successful in coaching their children is to be able identify their child’s stage of development from “Novice” to “Apprentice” to “Journeyman” to “Master”.
Chapter 9: Follow Me
Jesus-Modeled leading for parents inspires obedience not rebellion. Obedience in more than just getting children to conform, but rather modeling Christ-like obedience. Inspiring obedience in the home happens through: 1.) Standing your ground. 2.) Not letting fear set the agenda. 3.) Tailor your tactics to the situation and child. 4.) Model obedience as a parent. 5.) Build and inspire trust in the home. 6.) Testing children’s understanding of obedience.
Part IV: The Habits: “…the way you review and act on your daily comment as a parent to serve rather than be served…”
Chapter 10: Time with God- A Dad’s Perspective
Leading like Jesus as a father means staying on track by staying close in your relationship with Him in having healthy habits of solitude, prayer, studying scripture, accepting God’s unconditional love, and involvement in supportive relationships.
Chapter 11: Time with God- A Mom’s Perspective
Leading like Jesus as a mother means facing challenges by meeting with Him through healthy spiritual habits of confession, solitude, prepared connection, regular prayer and praise over the family, and making time for what is most important.
Chapter 12: Moving On
The final principle of leading like Jesus is learning to turn mistakes into opportunities through forgiveness and grace. Forgiveness require intentional surrender that leaves behind past offenses of others. Pride and ego demand payment, but grace in the home offers forgiveness. In a home of grace, it is more than something that is said before a meal, but something that is lived out by being able to move beyond mistakes. It is being able to follow the leader in being fully present in the moments of life and forgiveness.