During February, love is in the air! This month on Faith First Parent, I invite you to get to know four women I respect, admire, and really enjoy. Each has found her sweet spot in serving God and others. I hope you’ll enjoy their stories and be inspired by their passions and labors of love for the Lord.
Today, Tricia Goyer shares her thoughts on leadership in the family. Along with her husband, John, they discuss how God has a plan for families and how parents are to lean into that design. Their words are honest and thoughtful.
He Said/She Said…on Leadership in the Home
Tricia: I never considered myself a leader—just a mom of three kids under the age of five. I wasn’t more than a kid myself (22-years-old) when my third child was born. Part of a small church launch, a children’s church leader was needed. My best friend and I signed up. We had $0 for a budget so we had a simple plan. We taught the kids songs. We read them Bible stories. We helped them to memorize Scripture.
I remember the joy I felt one Sunday we led a dozen little kids to the front of the church to recite Psalm 100. “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs,” squeaky, little voices said in unison.
I replayed that event in my mind over the coming days. I was helping to input God’s word into young minds and hearts. It was a good feeling. It was only later—as my children grew (and we added on three more kids)—that I realized that even greater than my influence in children’s church, was my influence at home. In children’s church I had to prepare for two-hours of teaching. At home, the leading and teaching never stopped. The older the kids got, the more training was required.
Did I really sign up for this? How will I ever succeed?
Born to a single mom, and raised in a home where she ruled the roost, the model I followed was one of Mom Knows Best. Yet often I didn’t know best. I didn’t act best. As the months and years passed I was ineffective, unproductive, and overwhelmed. I needed help!
The amazing thing was that help was there, waiting. I wasn’t a single parent—God had given me a wonderful husband and life partner, John. In fact, I’d soon discovered that “family” started with John and I. The kids, in fact, were welcome members that would pass through our home into lives of their own.
More than that, John and I had Jesus.
Jesus and parenting. Jesus and marriage … what a concept!
What do you think of when you see these two phrases? Do they make you uneasy? Do those two sentences scream 948 ways you’ve failed? They did that to me. Through my growing up years church was a “Sunday” thing. And if we look around, our culture has perfected the art of drawing lines and keeping our spiritual lives separate from our daily duties. Faith happens on a church pew or during a 10-minute morning devotional reading, right? Or does it?
John: Tricia was only 17-years-old when we met. I was twenty-two. Though our ages were less than five years apart, we came from completely different worlds. I grew up in a solid Christian family. My parents were firm, yet loving. I saw a clear role of leadership in my father (from police officer to pastor, over the years). After high school, I joined the Marine Corps and quickly moved through the ranks to become a corporal in less than two years. Before leaving the Marines, I was a leader of men. Men that were disciplined (most of the time) and knew who they were … then I got married.
When I “met” Tricia, her newborn son’s age was still measured in hours. He was born earlier that same day. Sure, I knew of her in church, but until that day, we had never really talked before, other than in passing. (The usual church greetings: shake hands and a “hearty welcome.”). What started as a conversation on the day of her son’s birth, quickly grew into something much more. In less than a year, we were married. Instant family, just add a ring … conflict would come a little later.
In the next few years, we quickly enjoyed the addition of two more children. Before I knew it, I was the leader of a family of five, and yet I was barely 27-years-old. I knew how to lead men, but I did not know how to lead this family.
I tried to make the best decisions I could, but I always had a nagging fear that I was not leading like my ultimate role model—Jesus. I always had a feeling that I would be leading and, one day look back, to find no one following. After all, a leader is often judged by the actions of his followers. What would this family, that God had entrusted to me, end up looking like? I looked to Jesus, trusting He’d guide me as I figured it out.
Tricia: Looking back John and I had a lot of challenges, but thankfully we had Jesus who was there every step of the way. In our twenty-three-years of our marriage, we’ve led kids, led children’s church, led mission teams, and led organizations and ministries. We didn’t start out as great leaders, but God has grown us to become better at leading, as we do so with a servant’s heart.
Do you want to grow into an effective leader in your home, church and community? This will only happen as you surrender all of your life (yes, even your family life!) to Him. In fact, if we could sum up this “secret” it would be found here:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
There is one phrase that is especially important: “in all your ways acknowledge him.” Not “in all your ways except parenting and marriage and family life” but “all your ways.”
If you dig into the Bible, Jesus is clear about how He wants us to lead: He asks us to make a difference in our world, in our families, church and community by being an effective servant leader. It all starts by understanding the ways you are weak … and turning to Jesus to be strong.
You may not consider yourself a leader, but Jesus wants to be a strong leader in your world … through you.
Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. A bestselling author, Tricia has published thirty-three books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com. Tricia is also on the blogging team at MomLifeToday.com, TheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched www.NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired. Learn more about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.
Tricia’s coauthored book with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, Lead Your Family Like Jesus, is a wonderful resource for families!