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5 Secrets to Leading Your Family Through Hard Times

Will college football cancel its season? Some conferences already have. If it does, I guess that’s the last straw – what will we men do now? Can you imagine a fall without football? The world is falling apart. Or at least key pieces of it are falling apart for different people. For those of us w…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Will college football cancel its season? Some conferences already have. If it does, I guess that’s the last straw – what will we men do now? Can you imagine a fall without football?

The world is falling apart. Or at least key pieces of it are falling apart for different people. For those of us who love football, it looks bleak.

How are you doing? How about your family? Has anyone lost a job? A lot of people are not doing well. If you’re a student, who knows what school will be like? When there’s a virus outbreak, you’ll probably stay home. How will you decide when it’s safe to go back to school?

So much is beyond our control. It’s normal for our families to be the dumping ground for our anxieties. How do we lead our families through this season of change?

Importance of leadership

Leadership as a concept has fallen on hard times. So many of our leaders have failed us. Political leaders, business leaders, church leaders – every day you see them struggling. Men used to lead families, but are absent in a third of all homes now. 55% of black children live in a single parent home.

Jesus looked out over the masses and felt compassion. They looked harassed and helpless, like “sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt 9:36) I wonder how we look to him now? We have no clue about the future. We are anxious. We need reassurance. We need encouragement.

We need leaders we can count on.With many churches not meeting, the burden of leadership is more important than ever. Maybe we can’t find them in other arenas, but how about in our families? How can we step up and lead them as Jesus would?

1. Vulnerable leadership

Now is not the time for the stiff upper lip. Consider gathering your family for a meeting. Begin by sharing the ways that this is hard for you and how it has made you feel. If you’ve felt anxious and inadequate, dig deep to talk about it. Then ask them how they’ve felt.

You may say, “If I did that, the only response would be crickets.” And if so, perhaps you should go to the person you are closest to and just share with them one-on-one. If you connect, then perhaps the two of you could call the family meeting.

Sharing your own pain communicates that it’s safe for others to talk about where they hurt as well. It shows other family members that you’re in this together. I can’t remember this ever happening in my family, but if it had, what a breath of fresh air it would have been.

2. Lead with prayer

We need God. We need to humble ourselves and call on him together. He is waiting to respond, but he wants us to seek him.

If this doesn’t happen much in your family, then maybe leadership looks like repentance. A good way to begin might be, “I’m sorry Lord for trying to do this on my own. Forgive me for being so self-reliant.”

Maybe begin by reading 2 Chron. 7:14 and talk about what it means to you to be “called by God’s name.” And how it’s hard for you to humble yourself.

3. Listen

Everybody has lost something. They need to share that. And they need the chance to grieve what’s gone. Part of your own vulnerability might be to talk about the things that you’ve lost and how that feels.

Then ask others to share what they’ve lost. Really listen to them. Ask them how they’ve felt.

4. Connect them to the big picture

Before you meet with them, spend some time asking God what he’s doing in your family now. If there is pain, what is it there for? What does it want to teach you?

Your family meeting may not be the time to preach. If you are seeking God together, better to spend some time in silence listening to the Lord together and then discuss what they are hearing. 

Think back to when your family has been close in the past. Encourage them by sharing how that made you feel close to them and how you want to get back to that place again.

5. Decide what risks you can take

When you’re done, debrief the meeting with your spouse or a friend. What worked and what didn’t? Were you able to be vulnerable? How as it received? Some risk is necessary to bring your family together and failure is a possibility. What will you do next?

Pray and ask God to show you. Write it down and ask for another meeting. If your family is not good at honest communication, this may take a while. You may have more to apologize for than you realized.

You may need to consider going to counseling to address the dysfunction in your own life in order to lead well. Remember, the Holy Spirit is our Counselor – lean into his counsel. He wants to give you hope. Maybe it’s been hard for you and this is not comfortable, but don’t your children deserve better?

Your family members were born to bring hope, to bring good news. There is greatness in them. They need your leadership.

Comments (5)

  • God honors our willingness to be vulnerable and trust Him to lead us through these challenging times…what leadership looks like within each of our circles will be different. I am here to serve at such a time as this…thanks for the compass.

  • This is great Seth, we need men to lead their families and their communities, now more than ever. We need to come around our men and encourage them, this burden is not as heavy when we carry it together!

    PS. I am slightly devastated there is no football, we all need it!
    Love you,

  • God made it possible for me to retire. Gives me more time for the Cross of Hope.
    Who needs sports we need Jesus more

  • Seth, in your own inimitable way you’ve pierced to the heart of vital matters here. l take great comfort (and instruction) embracing the truth of Jeremiah 17:9. The days are weighty and frivolous, self promoting ministries do nothing to fortify families nor the Body of Christ. There is a shaking, pruning and demolition occurring. That’s the Lion of Judah. He breaks every chain! Love you.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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