At a Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) weekend in October 2012, I read the following passage from Philippians 2:1-11 to all men in the room:
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
I chose this passage because it continued my witness theme of servant leadership. In the secular world we think of leadership as telling people what to do and how to do it. We expect people to follow us and meet our needs. But a servant leader is just the opposite. Our obligation is to find out what our family needs and and strive to meet those needs. We should determine both their spiritual and physical needs. Most importantly, however, are their spiritual needs. There is no “one size fits all” for spiritual needs. Some of our wives/families may need us to spend more time in prayer with them. Some may want us to attend Mass more often. Others may need us to encourage them to more ferverently pursue their faith. For example, recently my wife was asked to take on a long-term leadership role of the women’s CRHP program. While she may have had doubts about her fitness for the role, I believed that it was the right position for her because it would put her in a position to build up her faith and effect the faith journeys of other women. So, I encouraged her to take the position and she did.
Our faith journeys are individual choices hopefully supported by our families and our faith/parish community. We may not all share the same specific religious affiliation but I know we do share the same faith in God and our savior Jesus Christ. Again, another personal example… One of my seven sisters and her husband are not Catholic. However, they are two of the most God loving/worshiping people I know who have raised an outstanding son. Joe is a true servant leader to my sister and their son. When I start to get lazy in my leadership I look to Joe as my model. When we spend time together discussing “religion,” we emphasize our common areas of faith rather than any differences in worship practices. Reflecting on that last sentence, I really should do a better job building up that relationship.
To close this out, how can we be better spiritual leaders in our home? My answer is that our needs must die to the needs of our family. Jesus Christ literally died for us so that we might have a chance for eternal life. The very least we can do is allow our needs to die to the greater spiritual needs of our family. Spiritual leadership is encouraging our wives and family in the pursuit of a deeper relationship with God in whatever way they find most meaningful.