Spiritual Leadership in a Single-Parent Family
Developing a godly family—what does that mean to me as a single mom? My intention has always been to raise children who have a knowledge of Christ. But as my children have grown, I’ve developed an intense longing to provide them with something more. But how do I do that in a single-parent home? If a father is meant to be the family’s spiritual leader, are my children destined to remain leaderless?
I struggled with this question for a long time until I realized that my kids were spiritually malnourished. While I cannot be both mother and father, I can teach my teen daughters about Jesus and be an example of a godly woman. I’ll never be the perfect parent, but I can lead our family in becoming more Christlike.
My leadership role expanded when I made some positive, though sometimes uncomfortable, changes in our family culture. It was hard for me to initiate the changes, and it was tough to live them out. It meant doing things that did not come naturally. To better serve Christ as a family, each of us had to decide to step out of our comfort zone every day.
One especially tough decision for me was to talk about the Bible and God with my daughters. I wanted to show them that God’s Word was exciting and relevant, but first I had to believe that myself. I prayed, and God gave me the desire to read the Bible with more enthusiasm. I studied and kept a journal of what God was showing me.
At first I felt awkward sharing with my daughters, but the more I did it, the easier it became and the more my kids participated in theological conversations. Many times God showed me a story in His Word that directly applied to a situation in one of my children’s lives. God created opportunities for us to talk about Him and His ways.
Another change our family made was in our music choices. Contemporary Christian music made a significant difference in my life, and I wanted my kids to receive encouragement from God-inspired music as well. My decision to listen to Christian music did not make me a popular parent, and it was difficult at first. My kids sighed or rolled their eyes when I tuned the car radio to a Christian channel. But now they have come to appreciate it, and I’m likely to hear “I love this song” or “Hey, we sang this at church!”
One of the reasons I chose to change our music-listening habits was in response to the instruction of Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” I’ve used this Scripture to limit TV viewing, and it is also an effective guide for choosing movies, magazines, books and Internet sites for my family. And I use resources such as pluggedinonline.com to help make informed decisions.
Soon I realized how important it was for my daughters to memorize Scripture as part of their spiritual development. This came about after I heard about a family who taught their toddlers a Bible verse for each letter in the alphabet (see “A to Z Bible Verses”). I was stunned that their children knew 26 verses, and I had taught my teens none. I felt as though I had failed. I envisioned how empty my daughters’ hearts must appear to God without His Word written on them. The Devil kept telling me, It’s too late. You’ve failed. Give up.
Then I sensed God say, Plant the seed and let Me work in their hearts. I gave the first Bible verse from the alphabetical list (Isaiah 53:6) to my kids. Once they had a chance to sufficiently grumble among themselves, we discussed it. We talked in the car and at dinner about what the verse means and how it applies to our everyday life.
Several weeks later, my daughter and I were talking about a situation at school and how to handle hurt feelings. I explained that we’re going to get hurt sometimes because nobody’s perfect; that’s why the Bible says we’re all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. To my amazement, my daughter quoted Isaiah 53:6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us have turned to his own way.” God had kept His promise. I was encouraged to continue the memory verse campaign with my family. I wrote each one on a brightly colored index card and displayed a new one every week in the bathroom.
Developing a godly family takes time. It required me to institute changes that moved me out of my comfort zone. As my family has taken these steps together, we have experienced a deeper understanding of who God is and His amazing love for us.
Andrea Redd lives in Chickamauga, Ga.